As a kid, I counted down the days – no the weeks – until my birthday. It was probably the best part of the year – a day all about me.
Now, before you go thinking I was a total brat, I’ll mention this – I wanted it to be my birthday, but I didn’t want any outside attention for it. You see, when we were growing up, we rarely went out to eat. Only on special occasions and birthdays was one of those occasions. On the fateful one day of the year, we got to choose whatever we wanted (within reason) and my parents would take us there for our birthday meal. And you know when you go out to eat on your birthday at a restaurant, they bring you a complimentary food items – usually dessert. And this was highly coveted because my parents never bought appetizers or desserts.
But along with the dreamy dessert came the staff and other diners singing to you. This is where I drew the line. I never wanted to get attention, so I always turned down the dessert. Every year, I would beg my parents not to announce it was my birthday and every year, they reminded me that I wouldn’t get the cake. And I always agreed and said I know, I don’t care about the cake. Did I care about the cake? Eh a little bit, but my mom always made us a cake so it wasn’t like I was cake-less.
Every year, I’ve looked forward to my birthday. I think the most fun part for me is being able to dictate the entire day’s activities. My brother is younger than me and when I was about 5 or 6, I was very distraught that his birthday came before mine. “But I’m the oldest – how come his birthday comes first?!” I would whine to my parents, who tried to explain to me that’s not how these things work. There’s tales that for a few years, I refused to sing happy birthday to him because I was so irritated that I didn’t get to celebrate first (ok, so that was the extent of my brattiness).
I eventually grew out of that and realized that I was still getting the fair deal by being the older sibling. Throughout college and afterwards, I would always find some fun way to celebrate my birthday with friends. When I turned 18, I told my boyfriend that all I wanted was to go to Disney World, so we did. When I turned 21, I honestly can’t remember what we did, but I’m sure it was some sort of house party. Even when I turned 30 last year, I made a big deal about it. Instead of being sad and depressed about the big 3-0, I had a Gatsby-themed party and claimed this would be my last birthday as a kidless adult.
Welp, I was wrong. Here I am, almost 365 days later, still without a baby; still not pregnant. I could be really depressed right about now, crying about all the things I had on my “Year of 30” Bucket List that I didn’t accomplish. In fact, I did bring that list out a few weeks ago and actually giggled over a few of the things I had chosen. I won’t share them all with you, but here are just some highlights
30 before 30 (2016 year goals)
- Boudoir photos ✔️
- Take a photography course
- Take a weekend trip in town ✔️
- Run in a race ✔️
- Update my wardrobe to include staples for career & mother✔️
- See a concert ✔️
- Visit a new city
- Get pregnant!!
- Complete 30-day squat circuit challenge ✔️
- Build a new habit: compliments
- Start going to church ✔️
- Work on removing salt and sugar from diet ✔️
- Find an ideal weight & be happy with it! ✔️
- Finish honeymoon scrapbook
As you can see, my bucket list didn’t quite get accomplished, at least not the “big” things that I’d been looking forward to. I was adamant that by my 31st birthday, I would either be pregnant or have a small baby. I was convinced that I would be staying at home and possibly preparing to move to a new state. I was convinced that I would be happy with my weight (finally) and not care if I had stretch marks or even some post-pregnancy weight.
Now can you see where I’m coming from when I say I should be depressed as the big 3-1 looms around the corner, less than 72 hours away?
But as I glanced over my bucket list and saw that prominent goal – the one that I was obsessed with this time last year, I found myself feeling nothing. I didn’t feel sadness or anger or regret; nor did I feel joy or relief. I was pretty neutral, which was surprising for me. Not even three months ago, I was completely torn up over the idea of how uncertain my future was and that I couldn’t even promise to myself that I would have the chance of being pregnant before the end of 2017. Now, the idea of not being pregnant doesn’t really bother me.
So on the same night that I uncovered my “30 things before I turn 31” list, I decided to come up with another list: a list of everything that I have accomplished. And as I began making this mental list, I realized just how much there really was to celebrate. Looking back on this year, I think the one word I could use to describe it would be “metamorphosis”. That was the theme of my 30th year on this planet and God didn’t take the task of teaching me this lightly. In every way possible, he demonstrated that it’s possible to be tested and to go through the absolute worse, only to come out on the other end a much stronger person…
- I moved back to my home state – a place I’ve been yearning to move back to for years
- I ran my very first (and probably only) Gate River Run – a goal I’ve had for at least the past 10 years of living in Jacksonville
- I made the decision to go back to school – and have self-funded the journey!
- I have planned trips to 4 new cities in 2017 – and those are only the ones I have booked air fare for!
- I committed to doing the unthinkable – running a marathon
- I finally started this blog – something I’ve had on my mind for the past 2-3 years now and never had the confidence to do
- I finally found a way to deal with my anxiety and stress – and it no longer involves nights that I don’t remember
- I’ve begun to write again – something I gave up in high school, but was such a passion of mine
- I ran 3 half marathons in the span of 6 months and have fallen in love with running – again
- I’ve begun to relinquish control over what happens in my life – of the things that I can’t control no matter how much I fret, cry, or pray
- I can look in the mirror and smile because smiling back at me is someone I love
So now, looking at the list of what I have accomplished in the past twelve months and I ask myself: is that “goal” what I truly wanted? For months, I spent every waking moment trying to find ways to improve my fertility; to day dream about what it would be like to be pregnant; to pray that God would let me have a baby. I was so convinced that it would make me happy – that with a babu, my life would be complete.
But can I tell you a secret?
I think becoming pregnant would have been the worse thing ever for me – at that time.
A year ago, I was in no place or form to become a mother.
- I couldn’t control my weight and I wasn’t distraught over this.
- I was always stressed out from work and couldn’t “leave it at the office”.
- I wasn’t paying attention to anything in my personal life except my obsession to get pregnant.
- I was completely caught up in the comparison game and belittling myself for not having the life like everyone else.
- I was grumpy most of the time and the only thing that seemed to solve it was drinking – or eating.
- I would often go through spells of eating junk, knowing full well that the next day (or even later that night) I was going to hate myself.
- I wouldn’t ask for help on anything – I had become solely dependent on myself and would just do things alone because it was easier.
- Although I’d learned to be pretty self-sufficient, I was still very emotionally co-dependent. When he was up, I was up. And when he was down, I spiraled out of control into an anxious downward spiral.
- I hated looking in the mirror because I didn’t know who the person was in the mirror. I felt like a fraud – a thief living in a borrowed body.
- I took responsibility for everything – and boy do I mean everything. I apologized for things that I didn’t even do or were out of my control.
- I was that person who tried to do it all for others, but never took the time to do stuff for myself.
All of those things – and none of those things – would have helped me as a mother. I would have been stressed and anxious my entire pregnancy, at the mercy of all the elements of my personal and professional environment. I would have spent the entire nine months apologizing for gaining weight; apologizing for having morning sickness and fatigue; apologizing for wanting to eat certain foods; apologizing for wanting to go running or to do nothing at all. I would have been so wrapped up in my own awful story that all my baby would thrive on was fear, anxiety, and stress. It would have been born with this engrained in their DNA and then the awful cycle would continue to live on – in them.
And I would have been eternally angry that I passed such an awful gift onto something that I love so much.
Talk about a hefty therapy bill.
Instead, God insisted that it wasn’t my time; that I had a lot of work to do. He made it very clear that I wasn’t meant to have a child before my 31st birthday because it wasn’t the loving decision – for the child or for me. Over these past twelve months, he’s showed me what it is to finally love myself and to find peace within. All the years, I was looking to others and the world to fill this gapping hole inside of me. Food, alcohol, drugs, parties, clothes, forgotten nights, men – nothing helped.
And after all these years of feeling like I would never find true happiness – here I find it, on the other side of what I thought was the end of my life.
So to my nearly 31-year-old self, I have nothing by gratitude and love. This year was the learning year – the transformative year seven – and I don’t believe it will end at the stroke of 2:20pm. No, this journey is far from over and I couldn’t be more excited.
Bring it on, 31. Show me whaha got!