Last month, I turned 30. T turned 30 near midsummer. It's a big year; a big season for our family. First year as a family of 4, first year into our most grown-up years yet.
My birthday is pretty close to E's, and frankly birthdays just lose their special-ness as we age into adulthood. They tend to fade even more when your vibrant young daughter celebrates hers a week previously. Our parents usually do a sweet, loving dinner and give gifts or money to celebrate our adult birthdays, and I always really appreciate it. I guess I was spoiled by my mom, who made my birthday into this incredibly magical day - even the year I turned eighteen on a weekday and lived 100 miles from home, in a dorm room, she still showed me how much she thought about me. It makes becoming used to these adult birthdays more difficult. I also find that I'm now old enough for people to start asking if I'm "ready" to become my next age, or if I'm dreading my birthday.
Maybe someday I'll grow to dread that date rolling around, but... I hope not. I guess thirty didn't feel like a big deal to me. I have everything I could want. I'm married to the love of my life and we own this home together, have two phenomenal kids, an adorable and sweet puppy, a good and steady job, a retirement fund, a savings account, insurance. I no longer know quite what to say when asked what I want for my birthday. Apparently asking for clothes for your kids, or necessary household goods is insufficient. My coworkers asked, and I replied that I wanted brownies. Hahahaha. (They outdid themselves with a lavish brownie sundae potluck, by the way. Because they're fantastic.)
When my wife asked this year what I wanted for my thirtieth... I knew I wanted something more. More than I've ever asked for my birthday. I wanted to book a photographer whose work we admire very much to take our family photos. This is a big gift because it's a fairly sizable investment, but I figured, we only turn 30 once, and C will only be a baby for a short span of time. I wanted photos. One of the plagues of both being photographers is that, while there are many photos of one parent or the other with the children, there are very few photos of everyone together. So we did it! I'm in love with them, and I'm so grateful that we were able to do it.
Sometimes, in the brief moments of silence, I think about my life. As the saying goes, the days are long but the years are short. Especially this first year of infancy for C. He's changing every day and I feel like it's going impossibly fast, and yet I still yearn almost daily for him to be older and develop more independence. Then I take that back, and wish for time to stand still. And then it's 7:30 pm, he's a crying mess, rubbing sweet potato into his hair in his high chair and E is arguing with us about not wanting to put on pajamas and the sink is full of dishes and there's a pile of bottles that need to be washed for tomorrow and I remember that I still haven't made E's lunch yet or packed my own lunch or stuffed the pup's Kong with kibble and peanut butter and the living room was hit by a 4 year old tornado in a Rapunzel dress and I think to myself, "I may never get to pee again."
In these moments, I will admit to sometimes missing my old life. The one where we could spend the whole day in bed watching favorite television shows on DVD. The one that I could sit at the table and literally paint for eight hours straight, stopping only to go to the bathroom. The one in which I could listen to whatever music I wanted, or stay up late to read, or eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food ice cream without being accosted or made to share. And yes, I even miss being able to clean my house on my own time frame and without having to consider whether someone would eat my toilet brush if I left it unattended.
I tell myself, "I'm only human. It's normal to miss these things." I know that one day, these things will come back to me one by one as my children grow and need me less. And I know on those days, when I realize what the return of my own independence means, I will cry and wish for these infinitesimal, endlessly fast days back.
And so I take a deep breath and close my eyes and breathe in the scent of dirt and fresh cut grass from my daughter's hair. I smell the sweet milky scent of my son's breath as he giggles and coos and chews on my chin. I will wait for the laughter to bubble out of my daughter's belly like lava from an erupting volcano, and I will open my lids again to catch my son's brown eyes sparkling with joy as he gets to experience his first Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas this fall and winter.
I think about all those days and weeks and months and years in my early twenties that I spent wishing and waiting and yearning for children. I chuckle to myself before admitting that yes, there is room for all these swirling emotions and desires. I am so grateful; so fulfilled by these tiny dictators who have so thoroughly won over my heart. Easy days, hard days, in-between days... I don't have any regrets about my choices.
Thirty years seems like a long time... but I'm happy to have so much life left to live in front of me. I'm so happy to get to parent these little people and watch them navigate the world around them.