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Ten years

Ten years ago today, I turned 29.

I had a lot less wrinkles and a lot fewer grey hairs.  My joints ached not at all.  I never had to drink three glasses of water to get the sleep marks on the side of my face to go away.  But, then again, I had a lot fewer children. My life involved a lot less giggles and cuddles and cleaning.

I had a lot more money and a lot more free time and a lot more frequent flyer miles.  I also had a lot more preconceived judgments and a lot to learn about compassion.

I had never given someone the baby Heimlich.  May I never have to do it again.

I had never endured a miscarriage or given up a child.  But, I had never held a friend’s hand through the same, knowing the pain.

I loved Matt heart mind and soul in a care-free, selfish way. I took love for granted the way all children do.  I didn’t understand that love is nothing until it’s tested.  I didn’t understand that I would love him a million times more when it got harder.  When money was tight and sleep was denied us.  When he worked all day and then came home and held me in his arms while I sobbed about how I was failing our troubled child.  I didn’t understand that one soft word to our baby would mean more than a decade’s worth of roses or love songs.

Although I have had friends throughout my life who are forever dear to me, I had never experienced the bond of a village of mothers.  I did not know what it meant to have my life underwritten by love and support and laughter. To have commiseration and celebration and emergency babysitting in life’s awful moments at my fingertips.  I wish I knew ten years ago what motherhood has taught me about friendship.

If I have one birthday wish, it is for every free-spirited, twenty-something girl in the world traveling through her life at 100 mph who finds herself a decade from now a mother of four with an annoying dog and a minivan and bills and a wardrobe from Old Navy and a little bit of heartbreak packed away in her secret places.  I hope that she will look at the changes in her life and feel this fulfillment and this happiness.

Ten years ago, I wasn’t perfect.  I had a lot to learn.  Some things never change.

But all in all, I think those ten years look okay on me.

(photography by Garrett)

They feel good. They feel right.  They sit easy in my story, right where they should be.  I’ve softened in just the right places.  Here’s to one last year as a thirty-something.  As a mom to toddlers.  As a person on the uphill climb of life.  Bring it, forty. I’m ready.

62 Responses to Ten years
  1. K-Line
    March 8, 2012 | 1:13 am

    Honey: Forty is where it’s at – and you are so close! Have a wonderful year and know that it’s just going to be more fun as you get older (she says, at the ripe old age of 41 :-)) xo

  2. Amy
    March 8, 2012 | 1:14 am

    Keep on rockin’ girl, like I know you will. So glad to have you in my village. Happy birthday!!

  3. andy
    March 8, 2012 | 1:32 am

    Awesome birthday post by an Awesome woman!

    Have a wonderful and fabulous birthday!

  4. Annabelle
    March 8, 2012 | 1:40 am

    Happy Birthday with love from 46 in a month!

    Good Job G, you took such a nice picture of Mommy :)

  5. Adventures In Babywearing
    March 8, 2012 | 1:53 am

    You are too adorable for me to put into words. HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I am on your heels.


  6. Varda (SquashedMom)
    March 8, 2012 | 2:08 am

    You make 39 look lovely. Hoping the next ten years bring much joy and wisdom along with the wrinkles and increasing creakiness. May your happiness head North as your boobs head South.

    Truly understanding and appreciating what you have? Such a blessing that you clearly have in abundance. Happy Birthday, my friend!

  7. foradifferentkindofgirl (fadkog)
    March 8, 2012 | 2:48 am

    Happy birthday! I want to be 39 again to look that happy and awesome!

  8. shannoncl
    March 8, 2012 | 3:17 am

    Possibly the best one ever. Beautiful!

  9. Alexicographer
    March 8, 2012 | 3:18 am

    This is beautiful, as are you. Happy birthday!

  10. Lady Mama
    March 8, 2012 | 3:47 am

    Great post. Yes, in your twenties you really have no idea how much growing is yet to be done. Happy Birthday!

  11. luna
    March 8, 2012 | 3:51 am

    hope you’re having a wonderful day, stacey!
    you look fabulous, of course. and yes, you do wear them well.

    and 40 is pretty awesome.

  12. Galit Breen
    March 8, 2012 | 4:06 am

    They look fabulous on you. Pure fabulous.

    Happy birthday, dear friend!


  13. Robbie
    March 8, 2012 | 4:14 am

    It’s amazing how 10 years can lead to an entirely different life. Happy birthday! Your gift to us was sharing this amazing post.

  14. christine
    March 8, 2012 | 4:22 am

    Happy Birthday! What an amazing post to yourself on your birthday. And I think you wear those 10 more years extra well.

  15. Aubrey
    March 8, 2012 | 4:29 am

    You are adorable! Seriously.

  16. MommyNamedApril
    March 8, 2012 | 4:34 am

    you’re gorgeous. happy birthday. i hope every year is better than the last. xoxoxo

  17. Marta
    March 8, 2012 | 4:43 am

    You look gorgeous. Happy Birthday!

    I wish there was a way our future selves could guide us and help us and we stumble and struggle through our present day lives. How many things will I have wanted to tell my 29 year old self?

  18. Upstatemamma
    March 8, 2012 | 5:32 am

    Time passes and things change us. It is amazing how different we can feel in only ten years time, isn’t it? Happy Birthday!

  19. She Looks Like a Mom
    March 8, 2012 | 5:55 am

    Happy birthday! I’m turning 30 this year, and I’m right there with you for letting go of the past century with grace. My husband’s birthday came first, so I got to pat his back and watch him mourn his 20s. Me? I’m ready for 30. To me, another birthday means I made it another year. I made it! And you, Stacey, with your 4 darling children, your wonderful husband, your horse-dog, and your village of mothers, you definitely made it. Congrats. :-)

  20. Amelia
    March 8, 2012 | 6:47 am

    Absolutely gorgeous!!! You, these words, that paint color, I love them all!!
    Happy birthday!!

  21. Gayle
    March 8, 2012 | 7:16 am

    Happy Birthday!! I hope you had too much wine. :)

  22. Kathryn
    March 8, 2012 | 10:57 am

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. Happy Birthday Stacey!

    P.S. Garrett, great job taking a pic of your beautiful Momma!

  23. Mel
    March 8, 2012 | 12:16 pm

    Happy birthday! What a beautiful message.

  24. Caroline
    March 8, 2012 | 1:20 pm

    I am one of those 20 year old girls moving through life like crazy, and finding it impossible to believe I will ever be 30 or 40 or anything older than I am right now.

    But regardless I come to this blog (and a few special others) to read about the “other side” of life, the one I have to look forward to. It reminds me to appreciate now, and to look forward to all of the wonderful different I have to look forward to someday.

    Thank you for writing, you inspire me and your words are truly beautiful.

  25. Jenng
    March 8, 2012 | 1:27 pm

    Happy Birthday – it amazes every time I read your posts just how much I relate to them…I find myself nodding my head in agreement. I am 38…so I’m right behind you. Here is hoping the last year of your 30’s is the best ever! :)

  26. Robin from Israel
    March 8, 2012 | 2:05 pm

    Beautifully said.

    And 40? It’s a walk in the park compared with 30 – it wasn’t until my 40’s that I was really comfortable with who I was, warts and all. I’m so much more comfortable in my own skin at 42 than I ever was in my 30’s.

    Enjoy 39, and then enjoy all the rest just as much and even more.


  27. Della Williams
    March 8, 2012 | 2:27 pm

    Happy birthday! You wear your age well!

  28. Candice@NotesFromABroad
    March 8, 2012 | 3:07 pm

    It never fails… I am all made-up and ready to go out in public and I read your blog and weep.

    Happy Birthday , young’un !
    love you. C

  29. Jenifer
    March 8, 2012 | 5:33 pm

    Happy Birthday!!

  30. Issa
    March 8, 2012 | 5:44 pm

    Happy birthday to you my beautiful friend.

  31. JustTwoChicks
    March 8, 2012 | 6:00 pm

    Great photography!! Happy late Birthday!! Enjoy every single bit of it. I was so happy with how things were going at 40… I’m not unhappy at almost 42 in 6 weeks, but I am not satisfied with the whole body thing going on. Oh well, not much I can complain about if I don’t try to change it, and I love my cupcakes way too much, and dislike my elliptical equally… :)

  32. meekasmommy
    March 8, 2012 | 6:10 pm

    beautiful, as you are! happy birthday!

  33. Louise
    March 8, 2012 | 6:25 pm

    You made me cry! Love that’s tested and survives and grows stronger….it’s so worthy of the deepest gratitude. My husband and I just had a discussion like this last night. Thank you AGAIN for sharing.

  34. Ryan
    March 8, 2012 | 6:57 pm

    Happy birthday. That picture makes you look really tall.

  35. Melanie
    March 8, 2012 | 7:03 pm

    I am right behind ya sista! So beautifully written (as always). Happy Birthday!

  36. Sharon
    March 8, 2012 | 7:23 pm

    This gave me chills and a ridiculous goofy smile at the same time.
    Happy, Happy birthday to you!

  37. Lady Jennie
    March 8, 2012 | 8:38 pm

    I have tears in my eyes reading this and I’m not sure why. But it was so beautiful. It made me see the beauty in my own ordinary.

  38. Sandra
    March 8, 2012 | 9:21 pm

    Happy Birthday! My oldest, Paula, turned 11 years old today too!!! Such an awesome birth DAY>
    Great words spoken by you. It’s so true.

  39. Roshni
    March 8, 2012 | 11:13 pm

    Happy birthday!! You and I are the same age! I turn 39 in May! I’m so glad I am not 29 any more…I’m so glad, just like you, to be in the place where I am now! :))

  40. Sassy
    March 8, 2012 | 11:14 pm

    HaPpY BiRtHdAy!!! I’m a March baby, too – St. Patty’s Day! What an inspiring post – so much I can relate to now, after over a decade of marriage and the growth and angst that comes with mothering adopted children… Thank you for sharing your heart and God’s richest blessings for a special day and your best year yet!

  41. MommyTime
    March 9, 2012 | 2:28 am

    Happy Birthday! And, as you know, I wholly endorse the notion that community is the most valuable thing we have as parents. We couldn’t make it through crises without them. Here’s hoping you also aren’t making it through this celebration alone either. I wish I were there to lift a glass to you.

  42. Marinka
    March 9, 2012 | 11:50 am

    I can’t wait for the next ten years.

  43. Natalie
    March 9, 2012 | 1:47 pm

    Beautifully written… as always. Happy birthday!

  44. Jen Li
    March 9, 2012 | 6:50 pm

    Today is my 39th bday, a good friend forwarded your post. I couldnt have articulated my thoughts any better. Thank you for sharing, resonates with me deeply.

  45. Toni
    March 10, 2012 | 10:45 am

    Happy always your post brings me to a happy way…a reminding way..thank you.

  46. Kara
    March 10, 2012 | 9:45 pm

    Age makes the good things great.

  47. Lyndsay
    March 10, 2012 | 9:59 pm

    You are amazing and beautiful and lovely.
    Happy, happy, happy birthday!

  48. Kristina
    March 11, 2012 | 5:28 am

    Just so you know – you look good in Old Navy. (:

  49. Ellen
    March 11, 2012 | 9:05 pm

    Happy Birthday Stacey!!

  50. magpie
    March 12, 2012 | 9:09 pm


  51. barbara sigel
    March 13, 2012 | 12:03 am

    …and may they all find their true love. Happy Birthday and many, many more.

  52. Kate Coveny Hood
    March 13, 2012 | 5:23 am

    One good thing about having a child puke all over the floor AND your open laptop earlier in the afternoon, is that you have a hard time falling asleep lest it happen again! Perfect for catching up on weeks of blog reading. And I would hate to have missed your recent posts – especially the loud butterfly balloon. Love how that so perfectly captured something I experience so often with my children – those moments of clarity.

    So I’ll send you a second birthday wish (this one a bit belated) for another wonderful year. I’m reeling in the last of 39 myself. It was a good age – and I hope it treats you well!

  53. Loren
    March 13, 2012 | 6:27 am

    It seems that you have really made an effort to remember your status ten years back; for some that would be a hard an emotional task.

    Happy Birthday!

  54. Rebecca @ Unexplained X2
    March 13, 2012 | 10:52 am

    Happy birthday…I’m probably woefully late, but that’s okay, right?

  55. The Mommy Therapy
    March 13, 2012 | 1:37 pm

    39 looks indeed fabulous on you! I might long for my twenty-something care free life, often in certain ways, but you nailed it in that there is a contentment that comes from experiences and pain and immense joy that you simply don’t have that young. Thirty-something is good, I hope forty something is even better!

    Happy birthday!

  56. By Word of Mouth Musings
    March 14, 2012 | 4:03 pm

    and ten years from now i will have an empty nest …
    omgosh, let my mind not even go there!
    (and yes, you wear it awfully well!)

  57. vodkamom
    March 15, 2012 | 12:57 am

    I say, you make forty look awesome.

  58. Maggie May Ethridge
    March 16, 2012 | 3:10 am

    Happy Birthday sweetie!! You look and are fantastic!

  59. Mel
    March 16, 2012 | 5:30 pm

    I’m currently one of the 20 something year old girls traveling too fast. I hope that I’ll someday have as kind of a heart as you.
    Happy birthday!

  60. Ann
    March 17, 2012 | 1:23 am

    I haven’t been to your blog for too long. I’m too tired to say anything the way I want to.

    I love the way you express yourself. I admire you so much–your brain and your mothering and your heart.


  61. Zia Courtney
    March 26, 2012 | 2:30 am

    It seems that I am quite late in greeting your birthday but ten years is truly a long journey but I am happy for you! Stay good and healthy.

  62. Maria Stones
    May 1, 2012 | 2:34 pm

    Nice photo of yours and you still look beautiful and young. All I could say to you is Happy Birthday and more wonderful experiences will lead to your life.

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