Today, I turned 35.
And for the first time in my life, I’ve felt a small measure of anxiety over my age. I loved turning 30–like, love loved. In a weird way, I felt like I was catching up to myself–as though I’d always been 30. And in the ensuing five years, I’ve found myself feeling … relaxed … comfortable … happy with myself. There have been hard things, certainly. Sad times, yesofcourse. But in short, my 30s so far have been great.
But 35. Thirty-five is … really close to 40. And it’s half of 70. And because of that, for the last few weeks, the thought keeps rolling, I’ve lived half(ish) of my life.
It’s not so much the getting older. I don’t mind that. Aging has never scared me. And 35 isn’t even that old. It’s more the reality that what I thought my life would be by now … isn’t. And because time is ticking–so very loudly–I can’t help but think … What have I done? What am I doing?
The measuring stick, against which I’ve always compared my progress–the measuring stick by which the vast majority of society compares life’s progress, I would venture–seems to have snapped into splintering bits. At least for me.
I do not have a spouse. I do not have a home. I do not have any children.
And there are currently no prospects for any of those options.
When it didn’t happen at 21, like I always imagined it would when I was a little girl (surely my life will follow the same course parents’ did, I thought), I just assumed it would happen by 25. But when it hadn’t happened at 25, I thought, Oh–well 27, then. And when 27 came and went, It must be waiting at 30, I mused. But 30 breezed by and so I set my sights on 35.
Now, 35 is here. Certainly by 35, it was supposed to be.
But it’s not.
And while the absence of spouse and house are softer pills to swallow, I am keenly aware that the years and possibility of bearing children are slowly–no, quickly–diminishing.
I have about a decade left, give or take. A decade is not very long. In fact, didn’t I just turn 25? Yes, I’m certain of it.
And so again, I ask myself, for the ten-thousandth time, What have I done? What am I doing?
Today, in the shower, as the scalding water streamed, scorching soul and skin, I searched for an answer. I made list upon list.
I have been educated and have continued to seek knowledge. I am a bright, intelligent, inquisitive woman who loves to think and fiercely believes that her brain is her best feature.
I have seen bits and pieces of the world. No, I haven’t seen all I want to see and been everywhere I want to have been, but I have said “yes” to the chances that have come and been enthralled with the introductions they’ve provided to life outside of my own.
I have shared a home with someone I loved. It may not have had my name on the deed, but I was wrapped and sheltered by its walls–walls that formed rooms filled with laughter, happiness, peace, contentment, and the Spirit of the Lord.
I have loved a man so deeply I was changed. He never loved me back, but the years I spent loving him were some of the most illuminating years of my life.
I have massaged a birthing mother’s legs and confidently affirmed that yes, you can do this, physically pushing my certainty in her ability past the contracting space between us and into her body, mind, and spirit, as she labored to bring life. And I stood steps away as life’s first breath was breathed.
I have rocked babies to sleep. No they may not have been mine, but my arms have filled in when their mothers’ were weary or unable.
I have praised God and am saved daily by His Son. I have heard His voice and I have held my faith.
But above all these things, as I look at my life and think, What have I done? What am I doing?, I see a life filled to the brim with people–people to whom I have sat close, holding hands and hearts, sharing stories and shoulders. People, with whom I have cried, laughed, played, and prayed. People who have nudged my rumination and stretched the capacities of my contemplation. And in those moments of blessed connection, I have found born within me such jewels as sincerity, compassion, testimony, adoration and a loyalty stronger than the Rock of Gibraltar.
No, I may not have a house, but I have known home.
And I may not have a spouse, but I have known love.
And I may have never borne a child, but I have given birth.
And while yes, certainly, I want more–I do believe life is for wanting and reaching–this is only intermission.
I still have the whole second half (and hopefully, then some) to go.