On Being Thirty


Once the boys are in bed I usually sneak into Jemma’s room for some girl talk. We snuggle in the dark and she says sweet little things like, “Isn’t my bed the most comfortable, beautiful bed you’ve ever seen?” and “Did you know my name backwards is A-M-M-E-J?” and “While I was waiting for you I asked Jesus to come into my heart … again … because it’s just so important and nice to have him there”.

Often, I have no words. I just nod or sigh and hold her tighter. 

What else is there to do with such a sweet little soul?

– – – – –

Today I got ready for the first time in I don’t know how many days. I kind of forgot that I don’t perpetually have ragged hair, tired eyes, and leggings on. I put on lipstick and the moment Max saw me (thankfully he still recognized his dear ol’ mama!) he said, “I wuv your wips! They is sooooo handsome!”

I couldn’t be happier to be a boy mom. Or more pushed to the edge crazy.

To calm the wild a bit we’ve been adventuring outside more and more. With three it’s quite the production to leave home and on the days I do I definitely pat myself on the back for my valiant efforts. We hiked a trail last week that was covered with ivy vine covered trees. It was truly beautiful to see how the ivy climbs and where it’s going next. Almost a metaphor for life these days. Slowly moving upward and onward, while constantly growing out, fuller, larger. There is focus amidst the density and various trajectories. If that isn’t motherhood, I don’t know what is. 

– – – – –

It has taken 2 hours to write the above. Reid has a stuffy nose and a new tooth coming in. We rock and rock and rock and I swear he’s completely asleep before I lay him in his crib. But, 20 minutes after laying him down, his whimpers begin and we start all over again. I’m annoyed. But, then again I’m not. I mean, what if he’s my last. What if these are the final baby snuggles of my life? And he settles in so perfectly against my shoulder. His warm, heavy body like a puzzle piece to the lumps and rolls left behind from pregnancy. Gosh, I love him so.

I rock in that glider at least three times a day with him – morning nap, afternoon nap, and bedtime. I didn’t get a glider until Reid was 6 months old and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t have something as cozy and functional for Jemma and Max and Reid’s first 6 months. Best investment. And really, it wasn’t even much of an investment because it was the final one at Costco and I bargained the manager down to $100 because it has a small crack on the back behind the cushion. 

– – – – –

When the clock strikes midnight, I should take it as my cue to settle into sleep myself. But by then, I’m on a roll. I’m no longer tired. Rather, I’m wired. I sip water, sometimes coconut water or hot cocoa. I listen to the Superior Study Playlist on Spotify. I get distracted. I load the dishwasher and flip the laundry and sometimes take a bath and read if I think no one will wake for a 45 minute stretch.

The night is my friend. And I shalln’t give her up no matter how much the books on productivity say I should ditch her and befriend the morning. Maybe when I’m 40.

– – – – –

By thirty, I thought I would have it all together. Or, at least, more together.

By it, I mean my laundry (it’s always behind), my eating habits (sweet tooth confessions), my attitude (it’s often in shabby shape). And so much more. I’m keeping up, but the grown up feeling I thought thirty would bring? It didn’t. 

Most days I still feel like that junior high girl with braces and bad bangs. And that rough spell lasted far too long. I mean, I still struggle with bangs.

Thirty seemed to be the benchmark where life would settle and I’d have routine and a semblance of collectiveness. But I don’t. And I wonder if it will ever come or if this is some kind of crazy, sleep deprivation, or maybe, in a spiritual sense, the heavenward yearning that causes life on earth to never feel complete. 

– – – – –

Earlier this year I chose today as my word for 2016. I wanted to focus on the here and now, embrace moments, loosen up a little. Be present. Whatever that means. 

I wanted to try. And try I have. Try I will. But overall, I’m sucking at it. Maybe today will have to roll over to 2017.

– – – – –

I’m older. None the wiser. Still figuring things out. Addressing old issues. Old heartaches. New obstacles. I’m holding on tighter to my children than I should. Smothering them with kisses and too many toys and cookies for their own good. I’m praying that balance will suddenly appear in my life while almost daily implementing some new tactic to stay sane and organized (most lately, a time log … which, if I’m being honest, is driving me batty!). I’m happier than I’ve ever been and so often brought to tears by the weight of this world, these times.

I’m thankful to be another year older. Years feel like riches because each one is an opportunity to do more, be more, give more, love more, try more. Bless this horizon, dear Lord, may it be full and treasured and everything I never thought thirty could be.

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  1. Marie Cole says

    I just turned thirty myself and as crazy and hectic as my life often is it’s the few calm and sweet moments with my kids that really matter. I always thought that by the time I was thirty I would “have it all together” but I’ve realized over that past few years that no one ever really does. Life is all about the ups and downs not just the ups and “having it all together” isn’t nearly as important as handling what life throws at you and finding the bliss in the chaos.

  2. Kristyn says

    Love this post, Gretchen. I’m going to be 34 in December (yikes! haha!) and thought I would have things more together by this point. I, too, struggle with balance. I think I will choose the word today for 2017. I’m always looking ahead. It’s my downfall.

  3. Sandra Caballero says

    Amazing post! I’m 35 years old this year. I’m also learning to balance my life with two daughters. Sweet to watch the little ones grows when my life feels like it stop for a while. Because I’m not working or doing what I used to do. But I love my life being a mom.