I turned 30 in September, and Ashley, my wife, turned 30 last week (don't tell her I told you though). For both of us, this was the "hardest" birthday. Simply put, turning 30 made us feel older.
It also made us evaluate our life, as individuals and as a family. We asked ourselves, "Are we where we thought we would be at 30?" When I was 20 years old, I didn't think I would still have student loan debt, change career paths, and that I’d go back to school. I definitely didn't think I would be kid-less at 30.
The hardest pill to swallow on my 30th birthday was the fact that I wasn’t a dad yet. I can honestly say I thought I would have a couple of kids at least by now (I know there's some young woman out there thinking, "I thought I would have a boyfriend by now! C'mon Zach, I don't want to hear it!) The interesting thing is I'm not distraught over being kid-less. I actually think I may be content. And this is confusing. I LOVE kids. I love being around kids, especially some special kids by the name of Kamryn, Bryson, Karsyn, Ryan, Natalie, Emery, Grey, Brooks, Ari, Mason, McKinley, Emma Grace, Jacob, JoJo, Oak, Ezra, Abe, and Ike :). I’m rarely annoyed by kids, even when they're annoying. In fact, Ash and I can't wait to have kids of our own. Please hear me-kids are a gift and a treasure from God. I recognize this truth.
However, it "seems" like everyone I know is having a baby or their third baby at 30 or even younger. I think to myself, "Should I care more that we're not having a baby shower right now? Is it OK that I’m OK with just me, Ashley, our dog and cats right now?”
My conclusion is, and others have confirmed, that it is actually OK that we're content, and that this "contentness" is not abnormal. In New York and other urban cities, people aren't even getting married until their early 30's, but in the South, it seems like most people get married soon after college, and have kids within 2-3 years, or sooner. For some, this is a wonderful lifestyle choice.
But here’s what I want I want to be sure of; I don't want to have kids in order to add some type of intrinsic value to my life. On the contrary, I want to consider my life as valuable right now, as it is already, and then try to add some little munchkins to my already valuable, purposeful, and satisfying life.
I’m not saying that people should wait until they're "ready," because let's face it, who is ever really ready to bring another human in the world? However, I am saying that I don't want my kids to ever feel the pressure of needing to add significant purpose to me or Ashley's life. I want to simply enjoy them. And I want them to simply enjoy being a member of the Dickson family.
I didn’t have this perspective at 25 or 27, or even last year for that matter. Maybe you learn these lessons in the midst of of parenthood- I don't know. That's why I view those who have made the decision to begin parenthood as some of the bravest people in the world.
But for now, Ashley and I can't take a picture of our contentedness, or show it easily on Instagram, but we're thankful we've waited and are waiting-however short or long this time may be.
So this post is for all the 27 year olds and above out there who are kid-less, husband-less, wife-less, without a boyfriend or girlfriend, or without something that the world (and social media) says you need now. Maybe you’re somewhat content, but also confused. I know you are out there. Even if all you see on Facebook are pictures that tell you otherwise, you can be assured that we're here too. And we're okay.