Monday, March 14, 2011
This week I turn 30. That's right. You heard correctly. Thirty. It's kinda hard to believe. It has snuck up on me quite unexpectedly. Maybe that's because I've been busy having children for the last six years and when I started that venture, I had just begun my mid twenties. As they say, "Time flies when you're having fun!" Ha!
But in all seriousness, I've been thinking a lot about it and what it means or really if it means anything at all. On the one hand, in today's society, 30 is considered quite young. A lot of women aren't married yet and if they are, it's pretty normal not to have children at this point. You remember the quote from the box office classic, 13 Going on 30, "30, Flirty and Thriving". It's the I've Still Got It attitude and no one's going to tell me I'm getting old. Kinda like a forty year old mom trying to fit into her teen daughter's mini-skirt...it's disgusting, embarrassing and in reality, plain doesn't fit! Yet Jennifer Garner's character Jenna, wants to be 30 because to her, 30 typifies womanhood. At thirty you have an established career, lots of money and a killer figure.
But on the other hand, generations ago, thirty was more middle-age, more normal. Probably more where I find myself now just days before the "big event". I've got gray hair, stretch marks from pregnancy, not as youthful of a figure after four children (no matter what, the body will never be the same!) and some wrinkles! Gasp! Every birthday before this seemed like an excitement to get older. Now for some reason, I'm told that this one tips the scales and I'm supposed to be a bit more cautious about time. So currently, here I am, married for almost a decade, the youthful figure has faded with four children under my roof and that career, well it was put on the shelf years ago. Definitely NOT thirty and flirty. There are a lot of women who might look at my life and feel pity.
Thirty and flirty...where has your life gone?
Pity? Because my "prime years" have been wasted, have been swallowed up by others and their needs. My fleeting, beautiful, youthful twenties have passed in a triumphant swoop of otherness. Otherness. And I've been asking myself, in a very truthful sort of way, if this sort of thing has any merit. If I had the opportunity to choose again, would I travel this road, or would I take another one? Not because my Thirtieth Birthday has brought on some fourth decade blues or anything like that but more in a curious way. This path has had its ups and downs, and it sure hasn't been easy. Would I travel this way again?
Have the sacrifices been worth it? Because there's no way to deny it...I've been totally and completely taken over by my marriage and my children. They are my priority. If you could break me up into little pieces to get a glimpse of what's really inside you would find that in every inch of my body and soul, lie the images of my family. They encompass who I am inside and out. There is no part of me that exists outside of them. I can get away from them at times to get rest. I can do other activities that I enjoy as hobbies. I have great friendships that mean a lot to me. But no matter what, my husband and I first, and then all of my children are a unit. We're all intricately woven together and those bonds cannot ever be broken (nor would I want them to be). We're a family. And my role is critical.
I recently read an article about a woman who felt like motherhood had swallowed her up and it petrified her. In fact, it scared her so much that she literally moved out of her home, divorced her husband and stopped being a mom to her two boys because she felt she needed to "find herself" again. If you don't believe me, read about it here. Numerous times she claims that her children are fine and that they even have a better relationship now than ever because she's able to spend strategic uninterrupted time with them rather than the day to day busyness a typical mom faces.
Looney bin, people. Pure lunacy. What drives a woman to really believe that her family is better off without her? What happens in a woman's soul to get her to the point of literal abandonment?
Of course her story is the extreme. But even so, would I go more that route if I had to choose again? Would I try to preserve more of myself so that I could still have an identity? And would I see it that way...that I don't have an identity by just being a wife and mom?
I've been thinking this through because really, I feel like the culture that surrounds me tries to say that I shouldn't be satisfied, that I shouldn't be happy with this path, that I've been squelched and my education left to gather dust on the shelf, and that I'm a doormat to the man I married because I consider him the head of our home.
But the crazy thing is that I don't feel that way, in any part of my being. Truthfully, I don't. Sure I feel stretched. Sure I feel overwhelmed sometimes. Sure I feel like I just.can't.do.it some days. Yet when that weakness wells up within me, a Courage stronger than my fears calms the storm and I know that God has me right where He wants me...serving, giving, laughing, loving--living.
And in that role, I flourish. In that role, I find freedom.
"So the woman who accepts the limitations of womanhood finds in those very limitations her gifts, her special calling--wings, in fact, which bear her up into perfect freedom..." Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman, pg. 23
Courage. Hope. Faith. Grace. Wings.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
This is the path my feet have been set upon. Not all get this path. But I do. And I'll keep running...it may not be 30 and Flirty but...I'd say, by God's grace, it's thriving.