*First published in her Magazine**
I go to bed at 9pm. I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. My alarm goes off at 4am. I eat lunch around 11am, dinner around 5:30 or 6pm. I have had a skin regimen longer than I can remember. I like to go to antique malls and I like to garden. I read real newspapers, prefer movies made before 1960, and New Year’s Eve is the last time I saw midnight or beyond. My church sends me the robo calls for the 50+ Night Out excursions.
I turn 29 this month.
Some of you reading this will think “Man…she is so old.” Others will think “Pffft. She’s a baby.” Age has never been a “thing” for me. However, full disclosure, I cried when I turned 20. I can’t even begin to explain that to myself, much less you. Also, full disclosure, my husband is a couple of decades older than me and that only adds to my inability to see age. Which probably explains, at least a little, why I am posing as a 104 year old.
It’s funny what age means to some and how the perception of various ages has changed over the years. My husband’s grandmother was 13 when she married his grandfather and 15 when she had his father. His parents were 18 and 19 when they got married. His mother had three kids by the time she was 23. Today, we are shocked at such heavy and life changing decisions being made and executed by someone so young. And yet, not so long ago, it was considered the norm.
Some things, however, have not changed. Here in the South (and frankly, most other places), women are expected to get married and have babies. And there are timelines in which this should happen. We don’t really help each other with these expectations. We date someone for awhile and within a year we are asking each other when he is going to put a ring on it. We get married and are barely back from the honeymoon before we start asking each other when we are going to have kids. There are “rules” to this life and while we want others to be understanding if we stray from the suggested guidelines, we have little sympathy when others forego our cultural normalities. I’m as guilty as the next gal. Sisters, cousins, friends, get married and I start taking bets on when they’ll announce the arrival of their new addition.
But what if we don’t follow the rules? What if we don’t get married? What if we do and don’t have kids? Maybe we marry late in life. Maybe we mother children who don’t biologically belong to us. Maybe we have fur babies, godchildren, nieces and nephews. Maybe we follow our career goals and dreams.
Or…maybe we get married, set-up house, and have kids. Maybe we work and take kids to baseball practice, soccer practice, theater rehearsal and swimming. Maybe we plan family vacations based on the most kid-friendly destinations. Maybe THAT is our dream.
Maybe we live a mix of the two and our “normal” is nothing that looks like what society expects of us.
None of these options are more or less valid than the other. And yet, we as women do a poor job of supporting each other in our chosen life paths. We choose marriage and kids and somehow we settled. We choose career and travel and we can’t seem to “settle down”.
I kinda fall in the middle. I’m a full time wife, who is a bonus mom to two “kids” who are grown and every other weekend, I get the opportunity to help raise our precious granddaughter. I work a full-time, fairly demanding day job and work part-time as a writer. At almost 29, my life doesn’t look at all like what I thought it would as a teenager, or even as a younger 20-something. But, I’m happy doing my version of this thing called life.
Late last summer, I experienced the kind of loss that turns your world upside down. It wasn’t exactly unexpected, but it shook my core all the same. My perspective changed. I realized we are not promised tomorrow. I got a front row seat to an instant life change.
So, I made a decision. I decided to cheer on my girls in their choices. I decided to be the person who encourages others to “just do it.” No matter how unconventional, no matter how impossible, no matter out-of-the-box, I am going to cheer and uplift. I want to be the kind of friend who offers encouragement. And I want to surround myself with women who are committed to the same mindset.
I made a list I want to complete in what my husband calls my “30th Year”…**insert eye roll here** (I completely disagree with his math on this one, but I’m all about cheering on choices and cheering starts at home, so…) My list is a mix of silly, serious things for me, things for others, things I want to do just to see if I can, and things that shouldn’t be put off until later. I plan on keeping you in the loop for accountability purposes and, ya know, so you can practice cheering too.
My 30 before 30 List
|Hike the Pine Mountain Trail|
|Take Sally to the beach|
|Read all of Hemingway’s books|
|Start running again|
|Write SOMETHING everyday|
|Take a trip to Texas|
|Plant more flowers|
|Write letters to Randy|
|Read Pride and Prejudice (Again)|
|Give up cheese for 30 days|
|Remodel the hall bathroom|
|Go fishing with Randy|
|Reestablish the Cols YRs|
|Teach Sally Salutations|
|Spend time with my siblings|
|Blog once a week|
|Print the pictures I take|
|Get rid of more of my shoes|
|Clean out our shed|
|30 day/30 gallons|
|Go to yoga consistently|
|Give up absolutes|
|Visit our happy place|
|Write more thank you notes|
|Go to the Driving Range|
|Clean my car out once a week|