This is 30

I turned 30 on Friday.

I expected to wake up and feel something — wiser? More refined? More maternal?

Spoiler alert: I didn’t feel any of those things. I felt the same, yet somehow different.

I’ve been in my 20’s for quite awhile now, as you can imagine. A decade has passed both entirely too quickly and more slowly than I anticipated. My 20-year-old self looks much different than the present day me. I rang in my 20’s with a loud night out on my college campus, surely consuming entirely too much vodka and ending the night with a 3AM pizza delivery. I’m entering my 30’s asking for a piece of cheesecake and a full night’s sleep, as I spend my days wrangling my now three kids and toting them around to preschool and cheer.

When you’re in your 20’s, you feel almost invincible. Scary stories of cancer and lost loved ones can’t possibly happen to you –you’re far too young for that, right? Something about entering this decade makes you feel a little more vulnerable. Things can happen in your 30’s. Diseases can develop and tragedies seem more tangible. You’re closer to middle age than you might feel comfortable admitting.

Back when I was 20, I thought 30 would be filled with suburban life and mom jeans — group yoga classes and glass tupperware. My cupboards are admittedly filled with Pyrex and I dig my three row SUV, but 30 is not quite what I expected. Some of my friends welcomed 30 with a perfectly executed bar hop, complete with sugar rimmed drinks and short black dresses. Others celebrated quietly with new babies in their arms and half drunk glasses of wine, too tired to even put on pants. Here’s how I see 30 —

Thirty is well-rounded. My Facebook newsfeed consists of wedding and baby announcements, #Homeowner statuses, pay raises, new jobs, and cross country moves. Thirty is hovering between scrounging together the last few dollars to pay the daycare bill and having enough extra for expensive dinner dates and spa trips.

Thirty is exhausting. There are client meetings, full heaps of laundry, and the monotony of meal prep and preschool pick up. There’s the itch for a vacation coupled with the sheer exhaustion of trying to imagine how we’d all survive in one hotel room. There’s the seemingly neverending stack of bills, permission slips, and summer camp brochures. Someone always needs an appointment, the emails never stop coming, and it seems as though we can never just stand still.

Thirty is sophisticated and sensible. There is drinking because you actually enjoy the taste of alcohol. There are bras chosen for comfort instead of aesthetics, meals curated based on nutrition and caloric content, and beauty products selected because of safer ingredients. There is the excitement of a new vacuum and bedspread, and the sacrifice of fixing the thermostat over grabbing coffee that month.

Thirty is playful. There’s still the cranking of pop music entirely too loud, and the blowing off something important for a much needed mental health day. There’s the treating yourself when you need it, even if there are other things you should be spending your money on. There’s the telling your kids that there’s no more dessert left while secretly stashing the good stuff on the top shelf of the pantry. There’s the excuse of watching a Pixar movie because your child asks, when really, you want to see it just as badly.

Thirty is strong — I mean, really strong. Your body might have carried some babies, and your brain has held the knowledge from your advanced degrees. There’s the pushing through sleepless nights, the climb up the career ladder, or simply making it to bedtime without completely losing your shit. There’s the marathons run, the barre classes attended, or even just the strolls around the park to lull a fussy baby to sleep.

Thirty is real. There’s no more time or energy for bullshit — there are the friends who have stuck by your side as you’ve navigated your 20’s, the ones who understand what it feels like to lose an opportunity you desperately wanted — or even a baby. Thirty means dinners dropped on your doorstep when your neighbor knows your spouse is out of town and you have sick kids at home. Thirty means a girls’ nights out, sipping cocktails on a rooftop lounge, and having the opportunity to engage in adult conversation for the first time all week.

Thirty is nothing and everything that I ever hoped and expected, all at once. Thirty is real and raw — thirty is beautiful and entirely terrifying.

This is 30. And it’s going to be awesome.

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