I turned 31 this year. Any novelty or ‘I-don’t-give-a-crap’-ness that ensued when I turned 30 and entered a new decade subsided last year, and this year, it was just another birthday. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until I die – I would not live through my 20s again if someone paid me to. Ugh.
In my 20s I really focused on making decisions to reach an end – training four times a week for a long distance race (my favorite so far being the Transmountain Half), going back to school for a Master’s degree for the field I really had a passion for but didn’t pursue previously, getting through separations and deployments so my husband and I could enjoy ‘normal life’. And now that all of that is over, it’s taken me a good year and a half to be okay with just living life.
I spent so much time running (sometimes literally) toward the next big milestone that I didn’t enjoy or even really notice the journey. Oh, I noticed the early mornings, late nights, and time zone calculations to be sure, but I never relished or relaxed in the journey.
The undeveloped skill of enjoying the means, not just the end, has led me to a profound place in my existence, especially since we’ve experienced infertility. (An aside: Is this an infertility blog, you ask? No, not intentionally. But you’d be quite surprised to see how much of my life really has been shaped and affected by that five-syllable word.)
No longer are we waiting for the next ‘big thing’ – that is, a pregnancy or a baby. The big ‘milestones’ we’ve experience thus far is 2017 have been 1) finally, finally, paying off our debt, 2) a family cruise to the Western Caribbean (10/10 highly recommend!) and 3) buying our first house. These events were all very exciting, but not exactly something that will cause intimate life-changing long-lasting effects, like having a child would.
So here we sit, summer beckoning in the beautiful sunrises we now enjoy even from our bedroom window, and the ‘next big thing’ is, well, life. Living. Work, relationships, church, walking the dog, moving forward in our careers. It feels very strange, like we’ve been teleported forward about 15 years, but without the ageing. Most of our friends are going for the next big thing – the next planned child (yes, because now we’re old enough that our friends are actually planning out their children), the next marriage (unfortunately we’ve witnessed many family and friends get a divorce), the next big move (military friends are still moving around) – and our next big thing looks different.
In reality, the ‘next big thing’ hasn’t really taken shape yet. Up until recently, this caused me a lot of anxiety. I alluded to this earlier, but my entire first three decades of my life entailed going for the next big thing. I literally can’t think of a moment in my life that that wasn’t true. But we’re in a new phase, an uncharted phase for many 30-somethings, and it no longer scares me.
The yet-to-be-seen ‘next big thing’ is beginning to cause excitement for us. I used to feel a little shameful for realizing that the years ahead are ones without the responsibility of children, and being happy about it. It’s not something I advertise, but it is definitely a silver lining to come out of this storm of infertility.
We’re still navigating life without children, and for once in my spirit, that feels okay.