This week I turn 31. I feel no need to hide my age. Last year, I turned 30 and I wondered briefly if I should feel old or depressed. I didn't then and I don't now. I suppose part of that is because everyone assumes I'm older because I have so many kids. I get some sort of strange satisfaction in being younger than everyone thinks. Odd, I know. Many women would love for people to think they are younger; I'd rather be younger. So far, I'm really enjoying my thirties. I love the stage of life I'm at, and this is why:
*DH is no longer in school. This is a big deal, as he was in school for five years of our marriage, three of them with kids. I was pregnant with #4 and #5 when he finally graduated. He was under so much pressure to support his family and do well in school and money was tight.
*DH has a very satisfying career that allows him plenty of flexibility. His commute ranges from 30 seconds (when he works from home) to 7 minutes (office #1) to 10 minutes (office #2). He takes the kids to most doctor's appointments and can get away during the day for school events or teacher conferences. He works several nights each week, but I gladly take that inconvenience for the blessing of having him around during the day when needed. When Sarah cut her head open at a mall playground last year, he left everything and met me at the doctor's office within 10 minutes. It was he who held her hand and reassured her as the doctor put her stitches in.
*We live in a great neighborhood with wonderful neighbors. One of my neighbors is always telling me I'm a good mother. True or not, I always feel uplifted when I talk to her. Is it any wonder I love her? Another nice neighbor takes DH and Joey fishing. Our kids have friends in the neighborhood, and so do we. Our kids can walk to school.
*We have a nice home with room to grow. All the baby plants I've been nurturing all summer long finally started to grow this fall.
*I love my kids and I'm grateful to stay at home with them. I love that my job description includes tickling, silly voices, singing, and reading. I love having my hands full.
*I have very satisfying hobbies. I feel at many times I'm a jack of all trades and a master of none, but I think that's a good thing for a mom to be. I love scrapbooking, blogging, designing, photoshop, and reading. This year I discovered Goodreads and have found so many satisfying books to read based on friends' recommendations. I love living in a digital age where I can connect with so many people in such positive ways. I can use my computer to help a friend far away, make a grocery list, order Christmas gifts, create beautiful scrapbook pages, reconnect with an old friend, write about my life and encourage others, keep my family history, listen to uplifting music, and more. What a wonderful time to live. The hardest task I have sometimes is choosing what, of so many enjoyable things, I want to do.
*I have three elementary school kids. I have to say to you moms who struggle every day with young children, just hold on. Things get a lot easier when you have school-age kids. It's still chaotic and crazy and we all have hard days, but when your children are old enough to be somewhat responsible, to be an actual help to the little ones, and to really engage in life it's so nice. The best part is that they're becoming little people who can be your friends -- you can play real games like Phase 10 instead of annoying ones like Candy Land. You can laugh and joke and really enjoy each other. I'd much rather have 3 school age kids and 4 preschoolers than have just 3 or 4 preschoolers. Something about the way I can see how all those years of nurturing is paying off just makes everything better. There's a lot less disciplining and tantrums and a lot more enjoying each other.
*My twins aren't two (I know I've mentioned it before but having two two-year-olds is about the hardest parenting challenge I've experienced). They're not three (the second hardest parenting challenge). They are four. They still aren't the easiest children to raise, but much of the exhausting battles have subsided. Their attention spans are growing. Allison is so intensely engaged in life. She can color at the table for hours, creating one masterpiece after another. Sarah is sweet and silly and fun. They both have a zest and excitement for life that is fun to watch and encourage.
*Eliza, despite being two, is so enjoyable. She drives me crazy because she's into everything at home, but she is a fun and delightful companion when I take her places. She's patient and good at the grocery store, the library, the van, the post office, and the bank. She adores her dad and her big brothers and sisters. Having her around makes everything more fun, from carving pumpkins to trick-or-treating to reading The Giant Jam Sandwich.
*Harmony is a bright, shinging addition to our home. She's so smart and active and happy. She seems grateful simply to be here. I love singing to her and watching her sing back. She grins and talks and lights up our lives.
*Our family enjoys vacationing together. We budget and pinch pennies in other areas so we can afford to travel. DH is the main impetus behind this. I'm always worried about spending too much money while he can't wait to take us to some new destination. We've bonded at Indian ruins, old mining towns, rockhounding sites, Disneyland, beaches, the Grand Canyon, and hotel swimming pools. DH is really engaged in his children's lives. He spends his spare time poring over atlases and Mapquesting his latest idea for a fun family trip or a fun Daddy trip with just the older kids.
*My health is good. I'm not as skinny as I want to be, but I enjoy exercise and have the strength needed for all my daily tasks. I've had scary challenges with health in the past, so I recognize what a blessing good and prosperous health can be.
Happy Birthday to Me!