A little over two weeks ago I celebrated my birthday.  It was extra special being that I was turning 29 on the 29th of December.  My good friend Lish suggested that I should have a Forever 29 Birthday Party, and I ran with it.  I invited anyone that called about my birthday.  There was no rhyme or reason to my invitations other than pure laziness, and that whole awkward part of inviting people to a birthday party you are planning for yourself.  The Yakima’s came as did a bunch of friends and their kids.  Since having my own children I’ve found myself downplaying December 29.  But since this year was so Golden, I went big.  It was perfect.  My kids were there.  We had a fiesta style taco bar. Amy made these beautiful cupcakes.  Angel and Bryce made me a shirt that said Forever 29.   And…there was Karaoke.  Really, have you heard of anything better?  

29.  I’ve never been 29 before.

When we lived in Salem, most of Chris and my friends were our age. We were one of the first to have kids, but blessedly we were surrounded by kid-friendly couples who loved us even more as diaper bag wheeling, baby packing people.  Of course we felt the changes that come with being the “only couple plus one”.  We couldn’t be a part of certain bible studies, Jonah went to bed at 8pm.  We couldn’t go and share a one room cabin, Jonah would freak out.  But all in all, becoming parents was fairly easy.  Around Jonah’s first birthday I started craving the companionship that comes from other mothers.  I started calling my sister Melissa everyday, sometimes twice, to talk parenthood.  I was jealous of her, because she was in a mom’s group, a play group, a library group.  I’d went to the library a few times, but for some reason Jonah always seemed to think that was the time he should leave a gift of smells for all to enjoy.  And besides a parenting class, I hadn’t met many other moms. 

So one of my first goals when moving to Eugene was to meet some other moms.  Within the first month to what did my wandering eyes appear, but a blurb in the church bulletin for a group starting for mother’s with young children.  I signed up that very day.  When I left my first meeting I felt a bit deflated.  There were two things I took from that meeting. The first was that apparently my legs were not long enough.  The second being that I was young. 

 For the next few years I heard these phrases a lot, and in no particular order:  “Well it’s because she’s so young…Oh, you’re just young…When I was your age…The young one.”

Really, there was nothing I could say. I was young.  And while, I knew they loved me and respected me, I also knew that some of them thought that the reason I was such a natural with my own kids, was because I was one myself.  

Don’t get me wrong…I saw the differences too.  Most of them had years of living before they had kids.  They knew how to throw dinner parties, I knew how to throw a BBQ.    They knew what a Coach Bag was, I still don’t know where people buy Coach Bags.  Most of it came down to monetary things.  Until then, Chris and I had been content living with our mismatched couches and hand-me-down furniture,  they had had time to put down roots.  I spent much longer than I needed to wishing I had more, because I thought maybe that would make me fit in better.  Before Eugene I had never had to put up with the keeping Up With The Whose-its…but suddenly I was swept up this world of if only’s

And you know what I missed out on?  My Life.  The Joys of My Family.  When swept up with the if only’s what lacked was my acknowledgement that maybe the reason I seemed so many steps behind was because I was young.  Because Chris and I had chosen to forgo extras so I could  be a stay at home drama queen mom.  And one day my beautiful friend Jocelyn put it all in perspective for me.  Well actually she gave me that well earned kick in the can I needed.  I was blessed.  Tremendously blessed.  She also said some things that were very hard for me to hear.  About my own faults. The stuff that only your best friend can tell you, because they love you enough to tell you the truth .

It wasn’t about the women from this group. It was about me.  And who I am has very little to with the year my car was made, and or whether or not we go on fancy vacations.   One day I stopped apologizing for having less.  That was around the time when they stopped referring to me as so young.

It’s been a couple of years since the conversation with  Jocelyn.  In those years I’ve started to enjoy a bit of my growing up self, embracing a world of spiky heeled boots and fitted button downs.  I of course want to emulate my youngness with a collection of cool tshirts and that quinnessential under-wire bra. But since no one has mistaken me as the older sister of my three boys, I was elated when I was the only person carded at our table at a recent party.  And I wasn’t the youngest!

And I am thankful I joined that group when I moved here.  Because a couple of those leggy girls have become my good friends.  As the years have past and I’ve gotten past my own stuff I’ve met more amazing women along the way.  They have seen me shed tears of loss and held my hair when I’ve been sick.  I’ve been blessed to strengthen the friendships with the friends I’ve had since before I wore a bra and knew about good tweezers. These women who run the gamut from single, to married, to mothers.    And while no one holds a candle to my beloved Mom and Sisters who I still speak to daily– I’ve found sisters in the common bond that comes with a love for diet soda and shallow TV, uh, I mean, deep conversations. 

I am tremendously blessed. My husband is my greatest love.  My children, my sweetest somethings.  And I have faith in a God that pulls me back, no matter how many times I’ve let the whose it’s and my own if only’s get in the way of the time of my life.

I’ve got almost a year left of being 29…If you think about it, that can seem like forever.