The 30th crossroad

September 3, 2009

Tomorrow I turn thirty. I began dreading this birthday since I turned 13. At 13 I volunteered with my pretty young guidance counselor. She seemed so cool and put together and one day, as I sat in her office organizing papers, she let out a loud gasp as she stared at her calender.  I turn thirty in less than a month! She looked at me with large eyes I’m going to be so OLD. How did this happen? Note to anyone reading: Don’t seek consolation on turning 30 from a thirteen year old. I just stared at her with my heart pounding because why yes, thirty is really REALLY old.

It’s funny that now I am pretty much thirty, I don’t feel quite as depressed or sad as I thought I’d feel. I’m just struck by life and how deceptive it is. Each day feels much like the last, lulling us into a false sense of security that nothing will really change but before we know it nothing is the same, we just weren’t present to watch the season change.

I begin my thirties quitting my job and staring into a blank well of possibility. Will I succeed and become the published author I want to be? I begin my thirties with a child growing in my womb. Will my thirties involve changing her diapers and combing her precious dark hair? My father called me today and he got emotional about my childhood. He apologized saying I dont know why I’m so emotional these days. It hurt my heart. He is more emotional lately. My strong father who fixes cars and cuts down trees, tears spring from his eyes with the slightest provocation. This too is a change and it puts a funny feeling in my gut that I cannot identify.

As I turn thirty, I stand at a cross road with my career and my family. It could go either way. I sit here today and admit to myself I have no symptoms. No nausea, tender breasts, or irritability that was my companion just yesterday.  So much is out of my hands and if I focus to long I feel dizzy like I’m alice falling through the rabbit hole. But there are things that remind me of sure footed ground: I have a husband with whom I grow closer each day. I walk each evening with him in our neighborhood taking in the scent of jasmine in the night air. I finished a novel and whether or not it publishes, no one can take this accomplishment away from me. And today, in this moment as I type these words, life grows inside of me. I cannot speak for tomorrow, but today this is the truth, and today is a good day.

Here’s to thirty, my blank canvas. I hope it will be a good decade.


  1. Yes, growing older…never good. I just had my 29th…not looking forward to 30! It seems only yesterday I was in college, how did we get here?? 😀

    Thanks for the comments and support on my blog. I offer you my internet friendship, and hope that we can support each other through all of this! Hopefully for both of us, this next year will bring the joy we are so desperately seeking.

  2. i always appreciate your openess and honesty…

    i hope your 30’s bring unexpected growth and happiness….here’s to your blank canvas—cheers!

  3. I’ve got the big 3-0 coming up in January.. *sigh*… What’cha gunna do though right?! It’s coming whether you want it or not. Congrats on your pregnancy. I hope everything turns out wonderful for your b-day!


  4. This brought tears to my eyes! Probably because I’m dreading turning 30. On my last birthday, my 29th, I was a mess – carrying on about all the things I thought would have happened by the time I was 30. . . *sigh*

    But you – whether you realize it or not, this post is filled with so much grace and strength and optimism. I admire your courage, and feel confident that a beautiful paiting will take shape on your blank canvas.

  5. I remember feeling the same approaching 30. It felt strange to think of myself as that old and like you I wondered how it was possible for time to have whizzed by and for the days of my youth to have really finished. After all I felt no different really to the girl I was when I woke up on my 16th birthday.

    When I met my Husband 11 years ago he told me he couldn’t wait to meet the woman I would become and I didn’t really know what he meant, but now I look back and think I really have grown an awful lot and am finally happy in my own skin. You too sound content with where your life has taken you since you sat in that counsellors office and tomorrow is the day to celebrate that.

    So here’s to 30-ness and the confidence that we are now strong women with adult lives and inner strength and achievements we could only dream of as girls.

    Wishing you a really happy birthday tomorrow.

    • RachieD- you have made me feel a million times better- thank you for the amazing perspective.

  6. Happy birthday’s eve
    and I hope this decade brings you all good things!

    warm wishes to you,

  7. Sweet Kate,

    Your piece reminds me of the amazing poet Mary Oliver and her question:

    ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    With your one wild and precious life?’

    The turning of decades are always hard. And, that too is a gift. We snap out of the daily treadmill to reassess our lives, our selves, our relationships and make commitments to being better at all three. To being, as you said, more present to watching the seasons change, as they do more swiftly every year.

    I remember being overwhelmed by 30 and yet it has honestly been my best decade so far, even though I spent years of it paralyzed or blinded by my medical condition and being told that we would never have biological children. My 30s taught me, to quote Mary Oliver again, this time from her poem “The Uses of Sorrow”:

    (In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

    Someone I loved once gave me
    a box full of darkness.

    It took me years to understand
    that this, too, was a gift.’

    It is difficult to imagine while in the dark tunnel of challenging times, but hardship holds the possibility of many unexpected and wonderful gifts. The deep roots and solid foundation I was able to develop inside of me *because of* the dark times have also brought me closer to God, my husband, and family. I have experienced a joy with them that I never thought possible in my 20s, when I was estranged from God and family and had given up hope on finding my soulmate.

    In my 30s, I have cared less about what other people think my life should be like, and been more committed to building a life I am proud of with the cards I have been dealt. None of us have a full deck, but what matters is what we do with what we’ve been given.

    As I approach 40, the spiritual mid-point of life, I find myself thinking again about my life thus far. Does the good I have done with my life outweigh the bad? Have I become a more compassionate and giving person? How have I benefited or harmed the world around me?

    As the season changes again, as it must, who will I be, who will be here with me, and how do I make the best of what I’ve been given?

    How do I give back even more to those whom I love and to those whom I don’t know but who have a right upon me anyway by virtue of being neighbors, community members, or, simply, fellows humans?

    How do I become the best daughter, sister, wife, and (God willing) mother I can be? What do I need to cultivate within myself to be the best person I can possibly be in good times and bad?

    As my parents grow older and the shadow of mortality lies more clearly upon them, they too, like yours, are more easily moved. How do I love them with all my heart and soul before the parting that is sure to come to each of us, sooner or later?

    The change of a decade is difficult, but it is also gift, if we choose to see it as such. A reminder that our lives are precious – so very, very precious – but can slip through our fingers if we are heedless. A reminder that a well-lived, purposeful, conscious life is one spent in loving service to something greater than ourselves.

    May the road ahead be made easy for you, and may you find that with distress also comes comfort, and with darkness, light. May your 30s be filled with great love, light, joy, & peace for you, Jack, your little ones, and your families and friends. May you build a life and soul so vast and beautiful, that it fills all those around you with love and peace.

    An early happy birthday to you, my dear friend!

    Love you,

    • Baraka, as always your words resonate deeply with me.I am eagerly awaiting opening your gift tomorrow :)I miss you and will call you soon.

  8. Happy birthday Kate. 30 is a wonderful milestone, really it is. And for you God Willing it will the year you give birth to your baby. Thinking of you and wishing nothing but happiness, peace and motherhood. Happy Birthday girl.

  9. Happy 30th. May this year be the year that you find dreams and hopes renewed.

  10. I too panicked just prior to my 30th birthday (5 years ago!). Became anxious. Decided to quit my job and shake things up. I’m terribly glad that I did. Many things have changed then since – most for the better, some things still undecided but none for the worse. And in the end, I woke up the day after my 30th birthday and felt a sense of relief. The “deadline” had passed and the dawn was a bright one. It’s just another day on the calendar. As others have said, it’s what we do in the grand scheme of things that matters. Best wishes for a joyful birthday! Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

  11. Thank you to everyone for your insight and your words, its meant a great deal to me.

    Coffeegrl, I’m glad that you also quit your job and don’t regret it. Its scary to bungee jump. but its nice to know others have done it too!

  12. My 30s have been pretty great so far (I’m the dreaded 35 in Nov): married my DH, finished med school and residency, got my first real job in 8 years. The only kick in the teeth has been the infertility, and having 35 looming was a big threat (besides the slowly putrifying eggs in my ovaries, the lower success rates for IVF the older you get etc).
    Luckily, no matter how old I get, I rarely feel much older than about 23 inside. A little more experienced and mature, maybe. But I’m still the same person. And my DH will always be way older than me!
    Hope your 30s bring you great things. Happy Birthday.

  13. I turned 30 in June and celebrated with sadness.

    Sadness for a few reasons.

    Sadness because my Dad wasn’t with me to celebrate. Sadness because while I was celebrating turning 30 I was also celebrating (but not) the anniversary of his death.

    Sadness because it had been near on 10 years that we’d been trying for a baby. Sadness because I was about to start another decade of my life still childless, still with a void in my life and my life nowhere where I had hoped or wanted it to be.

    I hope your 30th is a much happier time. I hope your coming decade will be a HAPPY one that all your wishes come true in…


  14. happy birthday! 30’s not so bad, it’s just like any other birthday really.

  15. Happy Birthday! I am 34 and so far, my thirties have been the best ever. So many insecurities behind me, knowing who I am, loving and being with my husband. It has also included the worst times of my life – my miscarriages, losing my first pet.

    I hope that the little one inside of you is going to be squirming around in your arms soon. Just a reminder – my symptoms came and went like crazy.

  16. It looks like you are starting off your next phase with a bang. It’s got to be good then, right? Absolutely.

  17. I have to agree with meinsideout. I am 33 and minus the infertility stuff, my 30’s have been wonderful. I feel stronger, more secure, more sure of my self than I ever did in my 20’s.

    As for turning 30, by the time it came, I didn’t care. But 40 is something I’m not looking forward to because it represents moving from the first half of my life into the 2nd half of my life. Unpleasant thought.

    Wishing you a wonderful, wonderful birthday. 🙂

  18. First of all, let me wish you a happy birthday!

    I just stumbled across you blog when I was looking for TTC blogs. I turned 30 last November, so I am fast approaching 31. It was a bittersweet birthday for me. Although I appreciate the things in my life, I really didn’t want to grow old and convincing myself 30 is not old was difficult. Also, my DH and I have been TTC for almost 6 years with no success, so that was another reason I felt bad about turning 30. However, I feel much better about it now and you seem to be in a good place. So, congratulations on turning 30 and adding more wisdom with each passing day!

  19. Happy 30th birthday sweetheart – may you fill your blank canvas with beauty & joy!

  20. I’ve heard from so many people that your thirties are your best years. Especially 32-33 when you’re happiest and 34 when you feel sexiest, evidently. I, being on amongst many 29 year olds on these forums, am counting on it.

  21. happy birthday, kate! it’s still the 4th where i live. i hope your day surprised you, at least a little, and in a good way.

    and happy last day of work. you are brave to take a leap of faith. i’ve thought of you several times today and smiled. i would be so pleased to read your work in print (or on my kindle…that’d be even better!) one day very soon…

  22. Here’s to 30 Kate! Mabrouk! It is an important milestone, mine is not too far away too. I hope and pray for you that your 30s bring you your child, that your book is published (congrats on finishing that too) and that life in your 30s is fully of joy and light!

  23. Happy 30th birthday! Now you can put those 20s behind you and place the more confident, self assured 30s in their stead.

    In some ways I feel more at home in my 30s – although I pretty much lost a couple years to the Big-C, so sometimes I feel entitiled to say that I’m 29.

  24. Happy Birthday!

    I hope the Lovenox shots get easier. And you start getting those uncomfortable yet comforting pregnancy symptoms soon!

    And congrats on finishing the novel!

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