Friday, September 5, 2014

The one where I turned 30.

Well, here I am, on the other side. Thirty years behind me. So weird.

A few days before my birthday, I panicked. For all my joking and feigning distaste for 30 over the past year or so, I really didn't feel that bad about it. But something flipped that day. I was 2 days away from my big milestone birthday, and facing a weekend of few plans and little celebrating. And while I am not a showy person, and I don't even enjoy a lot of attention, I was sort of regretting that.

For a while, I was hinting to Matt that I wanted this big, chocolate-covered party where we'd have a big chocolate fountain, with chocolate cake, and sponge candy and even chocolate martinis. But every time I brought it up, I'd laugh it off because I also felt guilty about it. I didn't want anyone to have to go to the trouble to put it together, and I didn't do anything big or special for Matt's 30th (though he requested it be that way). I guess, maybe, I'd hoped that there'd still be some sort of party, even if it wasn't the big chocolaty affair I continually hinted at wanting.

Usually, for any and all holidays, I am completely content to spend them humbly with my little nuclear family. I wasn't even sure that I wanted a big shindig. When Matt asked what I did want to do, I just kind of shrugged it off and said, "whatever, I don't care!"  I don't think I realized that I could have used the distraction.

So a couple weeks before my birthday, I asked some of my closest friends to come over for a backyard fire. We'd open some bottles of wine, have a mini-version of the chocolate fest of my dreams, and just sit around and laugh together. I should have known better, because my birthday is on labor day weekend (or within days of it, and always has been) and people have other plans. If I really wanted to put something together - anything - I should have gotten started in May or June. But I couldn't help it - I was disappointed, anyway.

Matt knew that I was feeling a little down about it all, and he came home from work early bearing flowers. He said that he picked the flowers with a fall-ish summery feel in mind, and he did an amazing job! It's such a gorgeous bouquet, and it's been making me smile every day since.

Those flowers did raise my spirits, but I just couldn't get out of this funk. And it's silly - I knew that no matter what my plans were, my husband, my kids, and my BFF would be involved - no matter when, where, or how. And that's all that should have mattered.

But here's this big, new milestone in life, and there's something funny about it. It's not that 30 is so old or scary or anything like that. It's more like - wow. I've actually done some real living, now. Look at all of the big, monumental life things I've already crossed off my list. Look at that incredible decade I just lived through. Look at all the wonderful friends - oh, wait.

I have a handful of wildly incredible, hilarious, sweet, caring, funny, strong, intelligent, friends. I am eternally and limitlessly grateful for them. But instead of only seeing their bright, beautiful spots in my life, I was noticing the gaps. I was seeing spots where big, important players in my life used to stand. And at this big junction in life, even when you're happily existing in your bubble of necessity most of your days, you want to look around and see a big, hearty tribe. You want to see the ones who said they'd be your friend til the end of time, and your kids would be too, and maybe even their kids. And when those people aren't there at one of these "stop and look around" bus stops of life, it does something to you. That was really the root of my feelings, I think. A couple of them couldn't even spare a few seconds for an impersonal FB post.

One of my friends that couldn't make it to my proposed fire asked if I'd like to go out to dinner with her and some other girl friends. I heartily agreed, excited not only for the chance to get out for a few hours and spend time with some friends, but over the fact that she'd even suggested it. It really raised my spirits despite how I'd been feeling. So on Friday, I met three of my friends and my cousin for some yummy dinner! I had delicious french onion soup and a yummy almond chicken salad, but the laughs were my very favorite part of all.

Oh, and this super cute bracelet my BFF brought for me:

I didn't realize I was an Alex and Ani fan until she gifted this to me, and I've been so excited to wear it every day since! I also love thinking that she's wearing hers (even if not every single day), because the constant reminder that there's another person in this world, aside from my husband and the three little people we made, cares about me and GETS me - like really, really GETS me - makes me feel all warm and fuzzy!

The rest of my birthday weekend was fabulous, and included...

♥ Garage sale-ing with my mom, where I scored a few frames, doilies, and some adorable clothes (yuppy neighborhood sales FTW!).

♥ Breakfast with my mom & Grandma at this really cute mom & pop style diner we like to go to. Jake ate most of a giant pancake on his own!

♥ Ice cream take-out at home while we played Minecraft with the boys.

♥ A very excited little boy - my Luke is a birthday junkie, and he woke his brothers up early for our celebrations followed by handing me my gifts and showering me with "Happy Birthday!"'s

♥ A birthday card that was entirely written by my awesome Kindergartner. He wrote out his brothers' names for them, and added an I ♥ U to it. My fav!

♥ Gifts of a griddle pan, a butter dish, a box of Watson's coconut clusters, one of the Valerie Wieners paintings I wanted (!!), and some gift cards to go shopping with from my boys.

♥ A handful of lottery scratch-offs (including a $20 winner!), a diamond candle, a bright bouquet of gerbera daisies, and some of the sweetest cards I've ever been given.

♥ An intensely delicious, extremely chocolate cake from my favorite bakery in town (where we also ordered our wedding cake from). It was incredible, and the chocolate, chocolate chip mouse filling is always the best part.

♥ A bottle of one of my new favorite wines - Heart of the Lake by Limeberry Wines. Oh, yum. If you ever visit the finger lakes, it's a must-stop!

♥ Lots of shopping at Target and the outlets. I've gotten some new skinny jeans, a new jean jacket, about 5 new tees, a new hoodie, some new socks, and some new fun jewelry.

♥ A total surprise visit from my sister that lives out of town and I haven't been able to see in person for a couple years! She's on my list of favorite people to spend time with, and not only was it incredibly sweet of her to surprise me, it did my soul good to chat with her!

♥ A playground playdate and lunch with my boys on the last day of Summer vacation. It was so nice to get out and enjoy our freedom one last time before all of the hard work ahead.

♥ A Greek birthday dinner that my Dad brought over and cooked for me, as well as another birthday cake. YUM!

Looking back at such a full, loving weekend, I knew that I was way more blessed than I was giving myself credit for. In fact, the morning after my birthday, I looked at all the various pieces of celebrating from the days before and I realized that there's something sort of special about 30. The friends that have stuck around this far probably know me in a pretty thorough way. Even making new friends at this point, with adults that have had enough time to know themselves well and get to know others a certain way, is a blessing.

My tribe may not be as big as it once was, and I may be missing a few people that I desperately wanted to keep around through the years, but the ones that are here - they are even more wonderful than I realized. And I want to spend this year showing all of them how thankful I am to have their presence in my life.

Next year is my golden birthday. You know what that is, right? It's the birthday when your age is the same as your birth date. I will be 31 on the 31st. I never thought I'd be thankful for this, but I SO am. Because I feel like my age  has given me the chance to celebrate it the right way. I'm old enough to know what's important to me in this life, and thirty is distracting and confusing. I feel like my next birthday will be the perfect one to celebrate the way I wish I could.

I really wanted to have a RAOK day on the 30th of this year (30 things for 30 years carried out on the 30th), but my biggest hang-up was a lack of funds. It doesn't cost anything to be kind, but it does to give gifts and surprise people with treats that they weren't expecting. I thought about asking people to donate to my cause instead of giving me a gift for my birthday, but I also didn't want people that wouldn't normally give me one to feel obligated. And with two of my kids starting at two different schools for the first time, plus all of my various jobs I've been working to keep up with and starting my Jamberry business in August, I just plain ran out of time. So now, I have an entire year to plan for my RAOK day for my golden birthday. My goal is to raise/save $350-400 between my own savings and others' donations. I will have a list of all of the items I plan to do, so anyone that donates to my cause can see where their donations will go. Any extra funds that I come up with will be put towards my items (for example, giving away Gift Cards for bigger amounts), and everything will be gifted or donated.

I can't wait to share my list with you soon!

I've got a busy year ahead, full of changes and growth and love. And this birthday was a great one for lessons. These life ups and downs are pretty wonderful, aren't they?

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