It’s know as a “milestone” birthday. It’s when you stop being “in your twenties” when you’re allowed to be flakey and confused, and become “in your thirties” when you’re supposed to get your shit together.
At various points in my life I would have given you expectations of what my life would look like when I turned thirty. Things I’d have accomplished, experiences I’d have had. The thing I learned yesterday, when I actually did turn thirty is that things don’t always turn out the way you expect.
These are my expectations… and the reality in which I live as a thirty year old.
There’s something almost tragic about being divorced by the time you’re thirty. People give you that sad face and sympathetic shrug. The look that says “well we all make mistakes” with the thoughts of “but they’re not usually that big.”
I got married when I was 26 to a man I fell in love with when I was 23. I don’t regret marrying him. I learned a lot and I got my beautiful daughter from that relationship, however, I do understand the tragedy people perceive. It’s easy to see the young girl who fell in love, got married, had a family and was abandoned. Lost her dream life and started her thirties as a single mum.
What people don’t always see is how reality kicks expectations ass on this count. I mean seriously. Yeah I was left, yes I was a single mum. But you know what would have been worse? Still being married, that’s what! Yes I’m divorced before I’m 30, but I’m also a mum to a gorgeous child, not married to that donut anymore, and madly in love with a new man who I’ve entered my thirties with proudly.
REALITY: Not published
Obviously, this one is less triumphant. If you’d asked me in my early twenties if I would be published by now I’d have thought “30 is well old… definitely by then!”
I’m not. I have this blog which is surprisingly well read for yet another mummy blog, and I have a finished book which is being read by family and friends who truly seem to like it. But, as of today, I currently am without literary agent or publishing deal.
However, by the time I’m forty………
EXPECTATION: Two or more children
REALITY: One daughter, one step son
I always wanted a big family and I wanted my children relatively close together. Being a mum is the best thing in the world and, as I had Miss Rose at 27, I figured I’d have another around the age of 29. Then life happened.
However, life has a funny way of happening sometimes and when The Boy and I moved in together, his son became a huge part of my life. I’m not just Mummy to Miss Rose, I’m Mummy Jude to Z too, so in a way I got my expectation… just not exactly how I expected.
One day I’ll have another baby myself, hopefully. Not yet, but one day… definitely by the time I’m forty…
EXPECTATION: Home owner
When I was 19 years old, my boyfriend at the time and I bought a house together. I was working full time as well as going to college in the evenings, and he had a full time job. As far as I could see, that was it. It was set. My foot was on the property ladder and the only way was up.
Then we broke up and I fell off the ladder and moved back in with my mum. Then I became a renter and thus a renter I remained.
I actually find a degree of comfort in being a renter, which i never anticipated. I grew up believing you had to OWN a home, otherwise you won’t safe. However, I am a runaway fantasist. I find being trapped to be terrifying. Whilst I have no given up my hopes of home ownership completely, I am not plagued by a feeling of inadequacy for not doing so as I would have expected. I find great comfort in the fact that, when reasons or moods strike, the option to leave is no more complicated than handing in notice and packing.
I don’t have everything I wanted or hoped for. Some is to my benefit, others are still things I strive for. But, through it all, the things I have which are in both expectations AND reality (my friends, my family and my health) are the best things about being thirty. Spending the day with people I love, and getting messages, cards and gifts from so many more, reminds me that even if I’m not quite where I want to be just yet, where I am is still pretty damn good.
I don’t quite have my shit together yet… but by the time I’m forty?? Definitely by the time I’m forty.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!