The Final Approach

I’m a day away from 30. And I’ve never felt better. I’m embracing it, looking forward with nothing but excitement and optimism.

In my 20s, I got a first-class education. I found a husband. I created life. I learned how to keep dear old friends and make new ones, how to sustain loving relationships with family members from halfway across the country. I learned how to apologize, really apologize. I learned to let things go. I took writing classes. I started a blog. In my 20s, I learned to cook for my family, everything from bread to baby food. I learned to grow my own food in a garden. I learned to zest a lemon and roast a chicken. I learned to knit, got better at sewing, developed my artistic eye. I learned to take pictures. I learned to drink coffee. I bought a car. I bought a house. I started an IRA.

In my 20s, I lost a father, and then a stepfather. I watched my own mother become a widow, and then I stood next to her at her wedding. I learned about grief, and then recovery. Then I experienced the sheer joy of seeing my father in the eyes of my son.

In my 20s, I lived in France for a month. I bought my own train tickets and my own gelato. I learned German. I learned a tiny bit of Italian, a few words in Latin (nevermind that most of it was Medieval Latin). I started to learn the Russian alphabet.

In my 20s, I fell in love with music from the Renaissance. And music from the 20th century. I learned to read white mensural notation and shape notes, to play four parts on the piano from only figured bass. I carried keys to a classroom and a stereo cabinet. I taught solfege. I learned how to sing in front of a full classroom, and how to teach even when I think my students hate me.

In my 20s, I shopped at hardware stores, farmer’s markets, teacher supply shops, and used bookstores. I bought cloth diapers, cat litter, seed packets, and bridesmaid’s dresses. I bought alcohol. I ordered vanilla beans from the internet and bought yeast by the jar. I developed a true appreciation for going to the bookstore or even the grocery store without children.

In my 20s, I chose furniture. I chose a new place to live. I chose paint colors. I chose names for my children. I chose a church and a playgroup. I chose a dissertation topic. And then I chose to abandon an academic life to walk a lovelier path instead.

In my 20s, I read the directions on pregnancy tests, made prenatal appointments, listened to the heartbeat of a tiny creature growing inside me. I rocked childbirth. Twice. I learned to breastfeed, then figured out how to share the gift of my milk with others. I felt the bittersweet celebration of weaning, then rejoiced when I got to start another nursing relationship all over again. I learned how to travel with a baby, and how to paint with a toddler. I taught a child the alphabet and watched him learn to walk. I learned all of the words to Goodnight, Moon. I heard a little voice learn to say, “I love you,” for the first time.

In my 20s, I became a wife, and then a mom. I became truly grateful for my parents and grandparents. I became an adult.

So I’d say that’s about enough for one decade. I’m ready to see what comes next.

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Wow! What an accomplished lady you are. This was so well written, and you are to be commended on all of your accomplishments.

Happy Birthday.
Erica, that was awesome. I'm glad that I've been a small part of some of that awesomeness. You have such a positive outlook, too. I've been scratching and clawing at the last few months of my 20s. I don't know why it's so scary to me. So much good stuff has happened in the last decade, I should only have more to look forward to- but I think I'm afraid that time will go by too fast for me to appreciate it. I'm glad we're homeschooling. That will give me some more time with my family. Time that I would already be losing, as my babies slowly turn school age. *sniff*

Happy Birthday!
Erica, I am crying. That was just beautiful. As a woman who also just turned 30 and shared in many of the same things in my 20's I could have written that myself... if I were as talented!
It makes me truly appreciate turning 30. Your writing is beautiful. I had a hard day today and that really just turned it all around...thank you.
Wow! I feel very privileged and honored to be your mom! Mimi, Bill, and I all got "moist" over this. (Truthfully: I cried.)

And my "Word Verification" word is "habilly" -- appropriate for a girl from West Virginia who's has TWO husbands named Bill!
Wow and pure awesomeness. Have a fantastic day tomorrow and and all the rest of the days too.
Remarkable, you truly are! Wishing you the best.
Happy Birthday, Erica! What a treasure you've written. Can't wait to hear what you experience in the next demographic box! Hope you have a great celebration.
Love, Lisa
Everyone else got to read it first, I endorse their comments and add a most earned BRAVO! to it all. Not a day goes by that I do not mention to another person or to my inner being that I am blessed by two kids who married great people and are raising special kids of their own. You have made my life richer. Thanks.

And I am sure that you will find the next decade challenging and rewarding as well.

My word is ablester: Able-ster...
beautifully written Erica! my favorite part was "i rocked childbirth. twice." Happy Birthday!
Incredible. Incredible words, incredible sentiment, incredible life. Exciting future.
as a young woman in my 20s, this is truly inspiring. i'm extremely proud to be able to call you family.

looking forward to that day we can really meet and discuss all of this over some freshly brewed coffee...
Good for you! I didn't really embrace my 30's. I'm not sure if it's because I was in the hospital on my birthday, and didn't really get to celebrate, or because I knew I would now be sharing my birthday or what. I'm going to try it again this year, when I turn 30+1! We'll see what happens.
But I'm so glad you are embracing it for its' new opportunities. Have a great day!
After reading this I think your 30s should be dedicated to NAPPING. Lots 'o love, dear!
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