35 and Content

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I turn 35 in a few days.

I couldn’t wait to be 30. 30 was real life. 30 was a real adult. No one could question that you were a real adult at 30.

30 is also the year I had long said I wanted to start having kids. “I wanted to wait until I’m 30,” I would tell anyone who asked (which is rude- stop asking this, people!). The number was a little arbitrary, except, as I mentioned, 30 was adult.

A month and a week after I threw myself a 30th birthday party, I found out we were expecting. 

“I want to be done having kids by the time I’m 35,” I used to say. A month after I turned 34, I gave birth to my second, my last, my baby.

Before my 30s, I spent my 20s always chasing the next milestone. First, I was excited to graduate from college and finally start my teaching career. Getting my own classroom was a goal post that felt all mine, and I cried many times before I made it there (and after, too, if we’re being honest).

Soon after setting up my first classroom, I was itching to get married. After all, my then-boyfriend, now-husband, and I had been together for many years. My friends were having weddings, and I wanted to have ours, too.

I was ready to buy a house within a few months of getting married. We decided to forego a real honeymoon to check the next thing off my list.

Reflecting on my life, I have always been looking ahead to that next step. When I was in elementary school, I would obsessively watch shows about kids in middle school, and I decided I needed to decorate my locker just like the Olsen Twins once I finally made it there. Middle school started, and all I wanted to do was be a high schooler, drive a car, have a part-time job, and be “grown-up.”

During my senior year of high school, I daydreamed about going off to college in the fall—what life in Bloomington would be like, away from my family for the first time.

And now, 35. What is the next thing on my checklist at 35? This is about as far as I’d really planned ahead. What am I supposed to look forward to now?

I think it’s contentment. I think I am finally at a spot of contentment—not looking ahead to the next thing, enjoying what I have right now, today, and this minute. When I say I am unsure if I have ever truly been at this spot in my life, I really mean it. 35 and beyond hold so many possibilities and so few preconceived expectations for what it should look like.

I am ready to enjoy the stage of life I am in without trying to jump ahead. I am ready to watch my sons grow and hit their own childhood milestones without making them about me and my timeline. I am ready to own my happiness today and not think about tomorrow. 

35 is here and it feels good to just be here.


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