I suppose your thirty-first birthday is as good a time as any to feel that you've truly come into your own. Considering where my family stands, financially, at this given moment, that may seem like a strange statement. But yesterday was indeed my thirty-first birthday, and I can truly say that I have never felt more contentment.
Do I have the material trappings that I always dreamed of? No. And I will actually be (temporarily) losing a great deal of those that I do. And yet, nearly every night as I drop off into exhausted sleep, I find myself smiling in the dark of my great good fortune.
I am surrounded by people who love and support me. My husband looks past my occasional bitchiness and tells me every few months that he knows I'm going to write a best-seller one day. My oldest daughter thinks I hung the moon and then wrote the story that goes along with it. My youngest visibly shakes with glee when I enter the room. My mom cries over the photos I take because she finds them so moving. My dad... well, my dad has learned to give me compliments out loud instead of only in his head, and I cannot say how much that means.
My best friend tells me almost every time we talk how much I mean to her and how we share a sisterhood that biology never granted us. Our other close friends share their lives and those of their children in such an open and familial way that we never feel alone.
I have an amazing career that is actually paying more than I every really believed it would - at a time when my family needs it most. And I seem to be stumbling head-long into another career that could keep me fulfilled beyond my highest hopes.
I have a community of "virtual" friends who are sometimes more real than anyone else; who share with me their hopes and sorrows, their knowledge and experience, their crude jokes and personal grooming habits.
Above all, I spend my waking and sleeping hours being thankful - being genuinely, bone-deep grateful for all that I have. Even when I'm bitching. Even when I'm annoyed. Even when I'm falling over in my tracks with fatigue.
So at the conclusion of the first three decades of my life, I can feel a new sensation looming. The sense that I may finally "get it", for once. But I'm sure, not for all.
Thank you for coming along for the ride.