Its official... I am 30. And as this birthday has a approached I have often thought, "I feel like I should have been 30 a long time ago," but then I also think, "how is it possible I am 30 years old when I still feel like I am a teenager some of the time." This year not only brings my 30th birthday, but also my 10 year wedding anniversary, and my middle child turns 5 years old. At 30 I have an 8 year old, an almost 5 year old, and a 3 year old. It sort of feels like I should be 30.
I know so many people who dread getting older, or who do the whole I am 20 for the 2nd time... or I am 29.95 plus tax... etc. And while yes, I can commiserate with the whole getting older feeling, but I also think we really should be celebrating and proud of each year that passes. Why do we so often hide the age we are instead of looking at each year that passes as one more year in which we can say, "I learned a lot this year, and here is what I am going to take from it." Or why not look back on the year and say, "I am so grateful for these things!" and keep adding to that list every year. Each year we get older should just be another jewel in our crown, because each year holds beautiful memories, moments, lessons, and hardships. And yes, even those hardships are beautiful, because without each one of the things that happens in our life, we wouldn't be able to grow a little stronger or a little wiser and who doesn't want to grow stronger and wiser.
So, going forward into 30, I look back and think about what did I learn this year and what I am grateful for.
Well, the first thing I learned was I am striving more and more to be a better wife and mom. And how is it possible for me to do this. Well, it comes from simplifying my life and my family life. The conversation in our house has become what can we cut so we can have more time at home and with each other. I have started thinking about ways I can better manage my time, and this summer I started putting things in place to help me do that, and as school has started I have been working to make those plans fit in to the craziness of our school schedule. I learned that no matter how many years you are married each year takes work and requires never getting lazy or complacent in how things are going. After 10 years it's easy to begin taking things for granted and so this leads to a something I am grateful for. I am so grateful for the husband I have... he loves our family and provides for us and really tries to lead us the way he thinks God wants us to go if I am not being stubborn and trying to say how I think things should go. So I've learned I need to listen first and not always say everything that comes in my mind, and I need to follow his lead because he is the leader, something really hard for this stubborn brain and heart of mine to do.
Second, I learned I am in love with a little island and it's people. I made my first trip to Sri Lanka when I was 28, but the following 3 were made while I was 29, and I am about to make my 5th trip. I can honestly say, the place, the people, the food, they have taken a small place in my heart. And I am so grateful for all teh of the friendships and relationships I have built. I am grateful that God has allowed me to connect with this place. I could not imagine my life without these people. However, that as also taught me another lesson on loving and loving well, and loving unconditionally, and sharing my love. It is very easy to pour all of our energy into one thing at the expense of another, and I have realized I can't love Sri Lanka and cheat other things and people in my life just as much as I can't love other areas of my life and cheat Sri Lanka and the people who mean so much to me there. So it's about finding balance and making loving each important part of my life in just the right ways for them, and it won't be an overnight accomplishment, but I can work to find just the right balance.
Third, I learned I am not as bad of a teacher as I thought I was. While I may not be good at teaching all the details of a subject I am good at showing students how to be passionate about following God's plan for your life, and about loving people. And not being afraid to figure out who you are. I learned that I do need to work on certain aspects of teaching in order to better communicate with the students the information they need to learn, but also showing them I love them and care about them and want to see them succeed no matter what happens. Which leads me to another lesson I learned: I can be overly critical of myself, but not in a perfectionist sort of way... more in a way that I see how things should be and I don't think I meet that standard. This really affects my teaching in a way that when anyone says something I take it as criticism and don't take the feedback in a way that would just help me improve.
Last, (well not really last, I did learn other things, but last for this post) I learned that I function so much better when I take time for my relationship with God and my own personal growth and mental/physical health. When I make sure I have that time, it really gives me more energy to give to the other people in my life. This gives me more to grateful for, especially grateful for my husband, who lets me have nights to go the movies free of kids, or lets me go sit and have a coffee completely alone to focus on time with God, time for school or things that just allow me to grow for me. Or the time to go ride my bike and get exercise when kids are refusing to stay in bed!
So in learning these things, it has helped me decide on a few goals for this next year and what I hope year 30 will bring me.
1. More time with my husband and kids.
2. More time at home so I can feel better about how the house is running.
3. Work on listening to my husband more and communicating better so that we can continue to have another successful 10 years.
4. Balance my love for my family, my friends, Sri Lanka etc. by not cheating one to give time to another.
5. Take feedback I get and make it positive and beneficial to growth.
6. Continue to share what God has made me passionate about with the students I am impacting and the people in my life.
7. Find time for my relationship with God and strengthening myself mentally, spiritually, and physically.
I really want to embrace being 30 and I look at this as a new decade beginning in which I will be able to grow and learn even more about who God made me (that is never going to be finished), and a new decade for making relationships with my family even stronger (my kids are out of the baby years now, so this next 10 years will usher all of them into the teen years!), another decade of discovering I really did marry my best friend, and another decade for living my life to the fullest enjoying each beautiful adventure that comes my way.