I have a birthday coming up. *coughJune24thcough*
It’s a big one. The big 3-0. And it can kiss my behind. I refuse to turn 30, and here’s why:
A lot of people celebrate ‘milestone’ birthdays. At 13, you’re officially a teenager. At 16 (in my home state of PA), you could drive. At 18, you were an adult in the eyes of the government. You could vote, enlist in the military, and do things without asking your parents first. At 21, you could drink.
My 21st birthday was celebrated in June of 2004 in the backyard of a house in the Philadelphia suburbs, a cookout with copious amounts of alcohol, barbecue sauce, laughter, and good times. My life was just beginning, and I looked forward to so much more. Returning to college. Summer road trips to wherever I wanted to go. Montana? Yup, I was going to go there the following summer. It was a stop on what was to be the epic summer of 2005. I’d see the country (again, since I’d seen much of it as a child), and maybe celebrate my 22nd birthday on a beach in California.
But six weeks later, in August of 2004, I’d be staring at an object that would forever alter my course…a positive pregnancy test. All of my plans came to a screeching halt.
I had my second child in March of 2008, then my son in October of 2011…at ages 24 and 28, respectively. Yet within me there still remained vestiges of the wanderlust-filled 21 year old. I still wanted to see the country, I still wanted to go out with friends more often than I do. I still want to change the world, make a difference, leave my mark. But I just don’t have the time, it seems.
From a young age, we’re schooled through various means that your 20s are for exploration, for finding yourself and taking risks. Your 30s are for being a responsible grownup. Gone are the booze fueled parties of the 20s, in are the classy gatherings with wine and hors d’oeurves. Gone are the loud cries of “Road Trip!”, replaced with shocked exclamations of “Whose baby pooped?” while covering your nose, because it certainly wasn’t your baby.
I reject this notion. I will not accept it. I am not saying I’m going to spend my 30s in a constant state of inebriation. Good times and fond memories aren’t always about alcohol-soaked ragers. But I spent most of my 20s doing what I thought I’d be doing in my 30s: raising children and growing up. So I shall treat my 30s as a fresh shot at my 20s. I will get out more. I will socialize more. I will make new friends, and make sure I find time to travel to the place where I grew up, to make time for the friends and family who are still there (and I will let go of my jealousy that they are still there, when I’d very much like to live there again). I will make my mark on this world. I will make my legacy. I will do it all while continuing to raise my children with the compassion and love that I value so much, that I strive to live up to, and instill it in my children.
I will hike more. I will hang out more. I will write more, read more, learn more, and yes, on occasion, I shall drink more too. I will recapture the vitality and free-spiritedness I once held so sacred within myself, and I will not compromise my morals and ethics to do so. I will make sure to visit my grandparents, my parents, my family more, because I do not wish to have any regrets when their time in my life reaches the inevitable end. I do not want to say “I wish I’d gotten over to Grandma’s more often”. I am not emotionally equipped to handle that kind of regret, and so I will not allow myself to have that regret. I want to look back and say “I spent as much time with the people I love as I possibly could, and I have no regrets in that regard.”
I have been blessed to have my grandmother and grandfather as long as I have. The near proximity of my 30th birthday has really made me aware, all too keenly, of the fact that I am not promised any length of time with them. They raised me, so all my life I have seen them more as Mom and Dad (no offense to my parents, who both understand that me seeing my grandparents as Mom and Dad has no effect on my love for my actual Mom and Dad), when in reality, they are my grandparents, and a generation older than my parents.
I hope I have another 30 years with all the people I love, but I know that I am not guaranteed that amount of time. I am not guaranteed one more minute, let alone another generation, and I will no longer keep putting off spending more time with them in hopes that eventually I’ll have more time. I have to make time, in the here and now, because life is a fickle mistress.
And because she is such a fickle mistress, and time an indecisive master, I will make sure that I will live my life that when my time comes (hopefully when I am older than dirt but not soiling myself), I can smile and assure the people I will be leaving behind that it’s okay, that I have left no unfinished business or unrealized goals and dreams, that I have lived and loved with all of me, and that, when my time comes, that I will be ready to be reunited with all the people that left me behind over the years.
Morbid? Not really. But I never had a 25th birthday quarter century crisis. 30 is making me see that the years don’t stop marching simply because I have put some things on hold. I’m not going to put anything on hold anymore. I will write without abandon, I will schedule a road trip. Maybe not this summer. Maybe next summer, when the children are older and maybe my mom would be willing to have her grandbabies over the summer while the Mister and I go on an adventure. He’s always saying he wants to see the country, this place or that place. I will make more friends. I will hang out with them more often. I will see my family more.
So thank you, 30, for forcing me to take a look at my life and see where I want to make improvements.
But on the 24th? I’m turning 29. Again. Sorry, 30.