As I am about to enter the last year of my 20’s, I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic. So much has changed this decade. While there are the big, obvious changes, there are also a lot of random changes. In no particular order, here are some observations…
1. Bridal/Baby Showers
When friends and family around your age start to have bridal showers and baby showers it can be exciting. The thought is always, “I could be next!” But after the first three or four, the jig is up and you’re totally over it. If you move heaven and earth to get a chunk of free time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, the last thing you want to do is go sit and watch someone take their sweet time opening a bunch of gifts. You go anyway because friendships take work, but really the big draw here is just being able to sit and eat without your kids interrupting. Maybe you will get hot coffee too.
Much like #1, these were fun at first and it was like a big reunion with all of your high school or college pals. Now, it’s expensive and you can think of things you would rather do while you have a night out. If you are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to be in a wedding, then you most likely need to burn a vacation day on Friday along with the wads of cash to get your hair and nails done and pay for your dress and shoes. If you have to travel out-of-town to be a part of the wedding, you might as well take out a small loan to cover the cost of this ‘fun-filled weekend.’ Guess what, diapers and wipes aren’t cheap and some of us live on a tight budget around here. Other people’s weddings become more stressful than your own. Sure, you are happy for them and are flattered to be invited, but you know that they will soon feel the way that you do about all of this.
At the beginning of your 20’s, the responsibilities were so few and far between that you could go and indulge yourself every now and then. Now, your biggest indulgence is allowing yourself to buy a sweater from Target from the clearance rack. You look through your closet and realize that everything was bought on sale and your cabinets are stocked with nothing other than Great Value brand. This is fine because you can stretch the heck out of a dollar and you now would rather heat your house than splurge on something totally unnecessary. Just keep walking right by that Coach Outlet. Plus, the peace of mind that comes from having a budget and savings (albeit meager) is better than running out of the mall with armloads of shopping bags.
What vacations? If you are able to go on vacation, odds are you are either going with family or friends so that the costs won’t ruin you. Other than the cost, you now have one or more kids and vacations are suddenly the least relaxing week of your entire year. It’s still tons of fun, but you leave feeling more tired and burnt out than when you clocked out of work before your time off. Also, the amount of junk you have to bring with you on vacation never ceases to amaze you. If you go to the beach, you will spend your week lugging said junk back and forth and will actually go home from vacation several pounds lighter than when you left thanks to all the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to set up shop multiple times a day.
You began the decade sleeping in until noon, getting up just in time to go to your college’s football tailgate, then taking a nap when you got back from the game before meeting up with all of your friends again. Now you are functioning on way less sleep than you thought was humanly possible while taking care of kids and working. Obviously, you expected the exhaustion when your kids were infants. What you didn’t expect was that you still wake up feeling like you have been hit by a Mack truck every morning even when your kids are sleeping through the night. What’s the deal?! You chug water all day long, cool it with the caffeine by mid-afternoon, and get a full eight hours consistently. It’s starting to hit you that there is a distinct possibility that you will never feel well rested again. While it bums you out, at least you know that your days are much more productive than they used to be.
The age of 30 is barreling down the track at you pretty hard, but that doesn’t bother you as much as you thought. Instead, you are dreading the fact that your oldest kid is going to be heading off to kindergarten before you know it. This is how you track time now – by school years that are no longer your own. In just the blink of an eye you will be sitting at your kid’s baseball games and taking them to various after-school activities. Even though you’re not completely freaking out about how fast time is flying, you still buy some night creme and under-eye serum just to be safe.
You realize that you are approaching that season of life when some of the women you knew growing up transitioned to Mom Jeans. Not gonna happen here! Or so you say. Remember, 10 years ago it was nothing but graphic tees and short shorts in your closet. You haven’t set foot in an American Eagle in at least two years and you could not care less. Who knows what sense of style a few more years will bring to your wardrobe? At least the Gap Factory Outlet is treating you well in the meantime.
The problem here is that you think you are taking care of yourself, but if you lift your arms up in front of someone who did not vow in front of family and friends to love you no matter what, you are bound to get not just a gasp, but a scream. You look in the mirror only to find that your eyebrows have joined forces as one. You go to put on a pair of shorts and are confronted with the fact that you have managed to shave just half of your left leg during the past week. You blame this on the fact that the majority of the time you are in the shower you hear phantom cries and noises even though you swear the kids were asleep two seconds earlier. Relax, it was just thunder – not your kid falling down the stairs.
There’s not much to say here other than the fact that a minivan keeps looking better and better (if you don’t have one already).
While some people might see your life and feel sorry for you, you now feel like you have a distinct purpose in life and that is incredibly fulfilling. Others might see the cheap clothes, generic brands, budgets, and exhaustion as a curse; but you see it for the blessing that it truly is. Hard work is an understatement for what you do, but the payoff is so immense that you keep plugging along. When your kid busts through your bedroom door at 6am, runs to your side of the bed, and scares the crap out of you during a REM cycle, you don’t care (ok, you care a little bit). But as soon as you look at those clear, blue eyes on that freckled face, you are reminded of how strongly he resembles you and how deep your love is for this little one. Bring on the exhaustion and the aging as long as you get to spend your days surrounded by the crazies you call family.