The Other Side of Thirty

birthday, balloons, 30

Yesterday, I turned 36. It was different than turning 35. I realized that I am now on the other side of my thirties, plunging head first into the big 4-0.

I remember the exact day when my mom turned 40. Early in the morning, before she woke up, I blew up a bunch of gold balloons with big black letters and numbers on them that said: Over the Hill and 40! From a child’s perspective, I wanted to do something nice for my mom on her birthday. From a 36 year old’s perspective, maybe that’s not the first thing she wanted to see when she woke up. (Thanks, Mom, for receiving my “surprise” with a smile.)

While it continues to be a somewhat strange and existential experience to grow older and see crow’s feet forming around my eyes, I love this side of THIRTY.

Here are 5 reasons why (in no particular order):

#1- Friendship. It’s so much easier than it used to be. Maybe because I’m more comfortable in my own skin (though I still have a long way to go) or maybe it’s because me and the women I’m around are able to overlook minor offenses and petty comparisons. Not so easy to do in 4th grade.

#2- Friends. Not a repeat of #1, but an added benefit of being on the other side of thirty, is that age is beginning to mean less. I have friends who are in their 20s and friends in their 60s. That’s a beautiful thing. Generation gaps can sometimes cause confusion, but they can also open the door to enlightening conversations and much-needed paradigm shifts.

#3- Marriage. As I grow older, it means my marriage is growing older, too, which is quite frankly the BEST thing about being on the other side of thirty. How did we get through that first year(s)? I was an emotional basket case.

After 13 years of marriage, I can truly say we really KNOW each other. We’ve grown so much in taking ourselves less seriously, but taking our marriage very seriously. Even this morning, we were laughing about our less-than-helpful patterns of communication (his) and our relentless insecurities (mine).

#4- Kids. Seriously, one of the greatest things about my birthdays now are the enthusiastic responses of my children. They love picking out and giving gifts. Of course, I don’t need anything from them, but it’s a joy to watch them G I V E.
I got a dollar from Stephen (from his own money), wrapped in a handwritten note. Abby picked out a very HIP color of nail polish. And Aidan gave me what every teenager dreams of–an iTunes card (not sure what that says about me).

#5 Parents. It’s true that as we get older, we appreciate our parents more. For me, it’s because enough time has passed that I understand how hard parenting can be. There’s more GRACE for weakness, because I am weak myself.

* * * * * *

And then you realize that this life is passing by really, R E A L L Y fast, which makes you want to hold on tight to everyone. Parents. Kids. Friends. Spouses. But you can’t. And so, you do the best thing you know how: enjoy THE STORY now, with open hands, trusting that there is grace to laugh at the future, because THE STORYTELLER is the one who’s writing it.

  • Ashley Berger

    Oooh. My 2-7th birthday is next week… And I dread it! Every year! This is so helpful to read and know growing older is okay! XOXO Let’s celebrate at Bouchon soon!?

  • Duane Davis

    Hey, wait a minute…who has less-than-helpful-patterns of communication? Seriously, though, I’m overjoyed that we’re figuring out where our identity is really found, that we’re actually not taking ourselves as seriously as we used to, that we’re finding moments where the people are more important than the problems, etc. And: great use of the balloon photos from the McNair Party. Nice post. Proud to support a blogger today!

  • Julie Davis

    awww. Don’t dread it. At least there’s steak au poivre! : )

  • Heather

    Love this. Also, in wisdom years, I feel like you’re way older than me. ;D

    • Julie Davis

      Well, I am OLDER than you. Aren’t you like 27? : D

  • Sarah Pacosa

    You so wise. Also this is the third time I have tried to comment. Stupid disqus.

    • Julie Davis

      Thanks for the perseverance!

  • Joel Ledbetter

    I love Aiden’s i-tunes gift card… the birthday gift for you, that just happens to also expand his ipod selection 😉

    • Julie Davis

      Exactly. He’s a smart kid, although he thinks all the music I listen to is BORING. So, it probably won’t be much of a temptation.