31 looks nothing like I envisioned it at 16 or 21 or 26 or really even at 30. I don’t really have a super-solid or clear vision of what my early thirties would look like, but here’s what I can tell you: I would have placed bets on a toddler or two, a family car, and a totally different job. My husband would be an academic. I’d be climbing the career ladder in Student Affairs at a college. We would be life-long Southern California residents and Easter and Christmas Christians.
I could not have been more wrong in my vague imaginings.
Although these days and weeks aren’t what I imagined them to be, I am not sad at this life. I long for the Godly husband – someday. I long for the babies to love – someday. And I’ll probably long for that swagger wagon – someday. But those days aren’t yet, and I don’t want to be unappreciative of what I have and where I am now, because it’s a pretty wonderful place to be.
My days aren’t busy with wiping sticky hands and changing dirty diapers and taking kids to school and practice, but they’re just as full and long with work, the laughter of friends, and time spent building relationships that will be the backbone of my life.
My work isn’t teaching my children to read and helping manage my home with my husband, but it’s just as satisfying. I spend 40 (or more!) hours a week serving others and bearing others’ burdens and learning, each day, to be a little more Christ-like. I have so much to learn and so many beautiful faces to teach me during this season.
My soundtrack isn’t children’s worship music or Veggies Tales or Disney Jr. For now, it’s Netflix – so much Netflix – and Gilmore Girls. Always more Gilmore Girls. It’s funny movies late at night with visiting friends. It’s listening to music as loud as I want because I don’t have to worry about the family I keep awake.
My weekends aren’t full of birthday parties for my kids’ friends. They’re full birthday parties for my friends’ kids. Those precious Saturday and Sunday hours are filled with bridal showers and china gifts and weddings and table runners in beautiful bags and baby showers and tiny baby clothing and sweet knitted blankets. It’s rubbing the swollen bellies of my friends and hugging brand-new wives and whispering to new husbands “If you hurt my friend, I’ll kill you” (in a totally loving way, of course). It’s loving those as their new lives begin with husbands and with babies, and man, it’s so beautiful and miraculous that I cry every time.
31 is watching Charisse show me the house she built in Minecraft. It’s lots of dog sitting and house sitting. It’s eating leftover ribs for breakfast on my birthday, spending money on silly crafts, and generally being irresponsible with my time and learning to be more responsible with my finances for that Someday Wedding. It’s pinning ideas on Pinterest to boards called Someday Baby, Someday Big Kids, Someday Wedding, and Someday Husband. I know that someday isn’t too far away.
In so many ways, 31 isn’t what I imagined it to be. But it is exactly what I want it to be, because I will always look back at this time in my life and remember the fullness of joy I feel every day. God has given me the gift of laughter and He has filled my life with those who make me laugh. How can I wish away such a gift for something else? The things I long for and hope for and pray for in the quiet time before I fall asleep might feel so far away, but they will come before I know it – and they will be gone before I know it as well. So I laugh and love and live fully in this moment while I can.
The days are slow, but the years are fast indeed.