19 July, 2010

A Year of Grace: Celebrating My 30s

“Tell me a funny story about when you were 10.”  My daughter sits next to me on the bed, pen poised, ready to note my memory in our book. 

Crochet hook in hand, my fingers work looping and pulling yarn.  A funny story from nearly 30 years ago?  I was in 5th grade, a year that I don’t remember in great detail, and nothing “funny” comes to mind.  I remember that year to be more about the increasing realization that we were each quite different – boys and girls were changing, personalities developing, and “going together” became a part of life. 

This conversation, coupled with my desire to celebrate my 30s, gave me pause…

What is it that makes a year in our lives memorable?  Is it an event?  A coming of age?  Strong emotions?  And when we have years that don’t involve high emotions or life changes or events, are the years highlighted by this and that moment?

As I reflected on the year I was 30, I found that there isn’t much I remember about that year.  My daughter took her first steps a week before my 30th birthday meaning that I started the decade with a child that kept me on my toes as walking for her (for us) meant the first spreading of her wings.  Within six months she was running and climbing.  While she celebrated her first birthday, I breathed deeply as my first year of being a solo parent drew to a close – I had done a wonderful job.  I remember the coldest inter I ever experienced, losing one job and finding another, moving my little family back to Virginia, and beginning the process of building a home.  My 30th year ended with the events of 9/11and a community that largely closed windows and doors, taking shelter. 

Perhaps I remember more than I thought I did?

When I think about the year I was 30, as well as the year before, a few things stand out – While friends and family wondered, privately and not to privately, how I would parent on my own, I didn’t doubt that I could and that I would.  While they struggled with the idea of my being a single parent; I embraced the blessing of my daughter and attempted to release the confusion I felt toward her dad and his choices. 

Throughout that first year of my 30’s, I faced single parenthood head on, fully trusting that the universe had my back!

When I think about it now, I think of grace.  It is an unusual term to use to describe a year that included unemployment, child care concerns, and concerns about the environment in which I was choosing to raise my daughter; but, throughout the year, there was grace.

I remember the month of -40 wind chills – and the man who picked us up nearly every morning to ensure our safe arrival at our destinations.

I remember finding the school I wanted my daughter to attend, then the neighborhood in which I wanted to live, and how everything *fell* into place.  And the sense of relief I felt when I found a childcare facility near our new home.  Despite a waiting list of 50 people, my daughter received a place reminding me that, despite how it appeared, I was not in this parenting alone.  The universe always had my back. 

Grace – a year of grace.  Old friends, new people who would become old friends, a flexible job, and access to nature.  Even though that year ended with the events of 9/11, again reminding of the responsibilities that come with parenting and parenting on my own, it was a year I can celebrate.  The year is a year of events – life changing choices.  I would not be where I am now were I to have made different choices during the year I was 30 years old.  I suppose it is a year filled with emotions and lessons.

Ten years have passed, yet as I write, I relive parts of this year – the images, the laughter, and experiences.  I am sure I could even come up with a funny story about when I was 30!

I return to my daughter’s question, a funny story from when I was ten – I am at a loss.  I suppose being ten is a year that is more about moments, or maybe it is about the kid I was at school – or maybe my memory isn’t what it used to be.  I remember a good year, the beginning of a friendship I enjoy to date, and school.  It was the first yea, of many, r of change, just as being 30 was a year of grace. 


Aileen said...

I really enjoyed your posts on Celebrating 30's. It's amazing how certain times in life become miles stones later on. As a child I didn't realize 'grown-ups' change. They always seemed the same to me, when I think about that know it's shocking, how couldn't I see them change.

I feel your 40's will be wonderful!

BigLittleWolf said...

I hope it has been a happy birthday. I find I always reflect on birthdays, and often in writing. Among other things, it allows me to go back and see what I was doing, how I was feeling, what I was processing at various points in time. Perhaps in part because looking back, it is often hard to discern moments when we change.

I thought your questions were fascinating - what makes a year memorable.

I love that your daughter wanted something "funny" from when you were 10. And it sounds like you faced a hard year and came out stronger. Never easy.

Sara said...

I loved your story of your year of "grace." It shows your ability to adapt and your strength:~)

Funny, as I get older, events I remember become disconnected from my age. I remember the events very well, but not how old I was.

Perhaps this is a good reason to keep a journal record of your life:~)Which reminds me. I think it's great that you are helping your daughter learn about the value of keeping a journal:~)

The Exception said...

Aileen - I never noticed them changing either. Many times I think I note my age because my daughter is changing - and her changes are easy to see.
It is a celebration that will last a life time but I hope to note some of my celebrating here!
BLW - Ah, my birthday is still a few weeks way - I too reflect at this time of the year. One year it was not a great reflection... sigh... but this year I wanted to take some time to reflect before my birthday recognizing the lessons and stepping stones experienced during the decade. There is a lot there for me to sift through and enjoy before moving to embrace the next ten years.

Sara - I think she is teaching me! I was never a journal writer - this blog is about as close as I get. But together we are writing and noting different aspects of our lives together and apart. She has brought me to tears with some of her entries - and she is just ten. I can't imagine what she will do with her writing in the future.
Life is truly something to celebrate!

Wilma Ham said...

Funny I am not prone to remembering what I did in what year and journal writing is something that never appealed. Yet I have certain memories stick out, bits of conversations, special moments in which I felt humiliated or celebrated.
I guess I never have taken the time to really sit and think about the past, although recently my oldest daughter asked about how I came to migrate to New Zealand. It was fun to talk to her about that. Children are priceless for that, aren't they. I never asked my mother enough and now it is too late.
It is lovely when you can look back with grace and see that there is support from unexpected quarters and how your relationship with your daughter has grown in such a beautiful one.
TE I admire you for what you have accomplished so gracefully. xox Wilma

LesleyG said...

Wow, these are really great. It really makes me think about the Now, and wonder how I'll think about now in the years to come. Thanks so much for sharing! Even with the challenges that are sure to come, as happy as you are on this birthday is sure to last because of who you've become. Congratulations on that!

The Exception said...

Wilma - Ah, you came to live in NZ? I am now curious as well. Will you share the story?
Children have so much to give or share if we take the time to listen. My daughter stuns me with her perspective at times - and her curiosity allows me to see things differently and to consider my life anew.
LG - There have been challenges and yet, the challenges are blessings in disguise sometimes. I hope that thou are writing your site in ten years and able to look back and celebrate your 30s... and I hope to be right there reading and celebrating them with you.

Wilma Ham said...

Yes, NZ is a wonderful country and I have shared snippets on my blog.
I once saw a NZ photo of a huge garden and that clinched it for me. I wanted to live in a garden like that and as my ex husband and I could only ever afford an apartment in Holland, we went :).