Last year I went to a women’s conference. They had a twenty-somethings meet and greet with the keynote speaker and I went. I must have been thanked four times for volunteering to help the youth.
I updated everyone on my birth year, but I was a little embarrassed.
I had three kids and a mortgage. The young twenties asked about driving, dating, and still lived at home. It was an amazing capsule to see just how much development takes place in the second decade of life. You certainly aren’t the same person you were when you entered it.
Monday, the 6th of February- I turn 30. I can confidently say, I’m happy about it. I’m ready for it. I have seen a maturity, critical thinking, and a self-confidence in myself that I didn’t have in my twenties.
We spent the weekend at Hampton Court Palace. People go there to see King Henry VIII’s lifestyle, art, and architecture, but I go there because I love the natural lighting that cascades through the windows. I love photographing this light. Sadly, most of my shots consisted of my kids with snot on their faces, but I enjoyed myself fully.
In my twenties, I learned to capture moments.
There is something about composing photographs of your kids that allows you to see them a bit differently. I really love that. It helps you be present, connect, and see the attitude in their expressions, their tiny little features, and notice changes as they grow. I’ve slowed down a lot as I’ve approached thirty. I’ve learned to be still and capture moments- recognise nuances and little things that make me cherish people deeper. I lost some loved ones, moved away from familiarity and embraced a lot of change this decade. I realised things aren’t forever, so taking what’s in front of you and seizing the day is essential.
If you blink it, you might miss it.
This also goes for pain. Good moments pass, but so do the bad ones. I hadn’t really thought of that before.
In my twenties, I learned to own my voice.
I learned to state my needs, and acknowledge my preferences. No one can read my mind, but so often, I held people accountable for being able to guess how I perceive things or expect that they should meet unstated desires. Each person’s unique perspective helps give the world some flavour. It is a gift to share your heart and mind with others and let your story be known. It is a gift to let people know how they can connect with you best.
Being able to ask for help, get clarification, recognise a misunderstanding, and apologise when I’m wrong have been some of my highest achievements in my twenties. These aren’t lines on my resume, but being able to navigate sticky interpersonal relationship dynamics have made my quality of life improve significantly.
I planned the day out for my birthday instead of expecting James to guess what I would like. I’ve learned to be specific about plans concerning myself and special holidays.
Take Mother’s Day last year . . .
I wanted the kids to do something to show their love. Put a bit of effort in, not just sign their name on a card, or buy something with daddy’s money. So I came up with the great idea that the kids could do a special Mother’s Day photo op. I love my kids and I love photography.
This gem was the result.
So I rethought this plan and decided they could run me a special Mother’s Day bath. The spa was all booked out, but I could still be pampered, right?
The little people brewed me a cup of tea. Dished me a trifle. Do American’s know trifles?
America meet the trifle. It’s sponge cake + custard + jello + fruit. I tried to get a picture, but it didn’t last that long. Honestly, it’s not my favourite. It reminds me of being a kid going to a Golden Corral, an American buffet family diner. You can’t just pick one treat, so you pile them all into one bowl.
Anyhow, the kids drew the water, and lit candles. Turned on some refreshing spa music.
I climbed in and closed my eyes to the sound of waves crashing on the beach.
Sniff. Sniff. What is that smell?! My hair was nearly on fire. Rugrats lit candles where my head rests in the tub. I moved the candles and sank down deep under a blanket of bubbles.
Alone at last . . .
Except it didn’t last.
Sweet James thought his work was done. He went and played computer games while the two oldest climbed the stairs secretively. Barging in, three year old Evan entered excitedly, plonking a toy shark in the water. “Shark attack mommy! Roar!” Scarlett, age 6 was a few steps behind him. She put her hand in the water and swished it around.
“Ooo mom, this is dangerous. Too hot. I’ll add some cold water.”
So now my hot bath was luke warm.
Swishing the water some more, Scarlett eyed the salt scrub excitedly. “Oh mom, let me scrub your feet.”
The foot scrub was nice, but then it turned into a leg, hand, arm, and back scrub. By the time she finished, I was sitting in a tub full of murkey sandy luke warm water.
Then she decided to sit on the edge and do her own feet insisting we split the tub in half. When she finished, she dried her feet using my dressing gown. Evan splashed with the shark in the sink.
Not that I could hear it very clearly always, but the refreshing wave music stopped abruptly. In it’s place, Evan began singing his own off-key rendition of Happy Birthday.
Wrong holiday, buddy. It’s Mother’s Day.
But he wasn’t listening; he was blowing out the candles.
Without missing a beat, safety conscious Scarlett flipped the bright overhead light on exposing my cold, salty sandy body. She commented about my stretch marks, inquiring if they would “ever go away.” At least this time, she didn’t ask whose cat scratched me.
I sipped my tea which had more than a few drops of bathwater in it. Mmm… salty.
As I reached for the spoon to eat the trifle, Evan and Scarlett both declared, “I want some!”
. . . But hey, at least I had a shark to play with.
So this year for my birthday, I sent the kids out for the morning so I could take a bath. I’ll get my own bath water. I’ll even brew my own tea- no salt this time. I climbed in with music on, poured in the bubbles, and relaxed.
BRRRRRIIING. Riiing. Our doorbell decibel is so obnoxious.
I had forgotten about the parcel delivery. [insert mental profanity word]. I climbed out, stubbed my toe on the door frame, grabbed a towel and hopped to the window. Just the neighbour boy. Whew. Back in the bath, I switched my phone on silent. I don’t care if the Queen comes knocking, I’m relaxing in this tub.
And I did.
I made sure to get a good family photo at Hampton Court palace by bribing the kids with money. Baby Meredith decided daddy’s money was good enough for her, but 2 out 3 is better than the Mother’s Day disaster last year.
We had a great weekend.
Age brings more than wrinkles.
I’m excited about this year, this decade, and this life. I’m ready for the next big adventure, open minded about new possibilities, intrigued to meet new faces to add to my inner circle, and very thankful. I’m thankful that as age brings unwelcome changes, it also brings perspective, character, insight, wisdom, personal growth, experience, and memories. I’m thankful I’m not the same girl I was yesterday.
Goodbye 20’s. Hello 30’s.