Everything I Thought I'd Know by 35

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At 25, I told my husband that I didn’t want to have kids after 35. Maybe it was how the gynecologists make you feel like your ovaries suddenly shrivel up and sprout chin hairs on your 35th birthday. {Just the terms elderly primigravida or geriatric pregnancy are enough to age into your eighties, amiright?}

Maybe it was how in my logical mind, I did the math and arrived at 35 as a reasonable age by which to have all kids if I wanted to ensure they'd be out of the house by my retirement age.

Maybe it was how my mom had my baby brother at 39, and I was determined to do it differently.

Probably, it was all of the above.

When I was 25, I remember having a conversation with my friends where I confessed how it made me sad when women rush out and get their tubes tied at a young age, when how could you possibly know what you will want 10 years into the future? No, 35 would be a much more reasonable age to make a family-size decision permanent. Surely by 35, I would confidently know the size my family should be. Surely by 35, I would be ready to leave the diapers and sleepless nights behind. Surely by 35, I would have a grasp on life and all kinds of wisdom.

I turn 35 this week.

I still vacillate between wanting another baby and remembering how good sleep feels. My husband is less wavering, much more sure we are done. But me? Make a permanent decision? At 35? Am I even old enough to make permanent decisions? How did I arrive at this age?

When did this happen?

Add all these 35 Year Old Feelings to the scene last week where I am helping my daughter clean out her room. A pile is growing on the middle of her floor of all the things we will take to the thrift store—toys and dolls and too-small clothes. She pulls this oversized My Little Pony stuffed animal out of the closet and throws it thoughtlessly into the pile.

I pick up the discarded pony, and my mind flashes to 5-year-old Addy buckling in her brand new birthday-money present in the seat beside her. “Princess Buttercup needs to be safe too, Mom.” She had known exactly what she wanted: a pink-maned pony the same size as her own self.

Princess Buttercup—tucked in beside her for countless nights, the guest of honor at countless tea parties—and here she is, smudged and smooshed, and looking so much smaller than the day we brought her home.

I hadn’t realized the day we got her that we were at the crest of dress-up and tea parties—and how I would basically blink and Addy would outgrow the frilly casings of her girlhood. How she’d push against them and try to shake them off. Too pink, Mom. Too babyish. I’m too old.

I don’t regret the way I spent Addy’s earlier years. I stopped, I tea-partied, I let her put gaudy strings of beads around my neck. I tickled and laughed and looked at her full-on in the face. But all that, and it still flew by. I’m still wishing for one more tea party.

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Do you ever wonder where the time has gone? Do you struggle with getting older too?

It’s not the number that bothers me. It’s not even the extra gray hairs. I think it’s a grief of what has passed, of what is no more. Every year, my birthday comes, and I know I should celebrate, but, gosh, if every year I don’t get depressed first.

I think it’s okay to grieve the passing of time. Clearly, I have much to learn, but one thing I can claim knowing after 35 years alive, there is no way around grief. If grief is there, the only way past it is through it.

I’ve been searching Scripture, looking for ways to be okay with the way time passes like wind through fingers. How it can’t be held. How no matter how much diem you carpe, how many moments you savor, time breezes onward.

I actually googled “Scriptures for Struggling with the Passing of Time.” A well-known passage came up:

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…[God] has made everything beautiful in its time..." Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,11 [ESV].

Here is the part that grabbed me:

"I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before Him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away." Ecclesiastes 3:14-15

I couldn’t wrap my brain around that last bit, so upon consulting other translations and looking it up in the Strong’s, I arrived at this: God is in control. And those things I have so delighted in, that I am watching fade into the next season, God so delights in those things too—so much so He keeps bringing things around full circle.

The seasons change. But they come around again too.

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Here’s the real bottom line: Our trust doesn’t belong in changing seasons. That isn’t where we are meant to put our grip down. Our trust belongs in the One who orders the seasons.

I think our proper stance is the one my Addy-girl would take. Three years old, buckled in, and demanding we roll down the windows so she could put her hands into the breeze. She would squeal, “Whoo-hoo, it’s a hang day!” and ask me to share in the merriment. On the count of three, Momma. One... two… three… Whoo-hoo! It’s a hang day!

We were firmly buckled in, running our fingers through the gift of each passing day. Not even trying to hold it, but fully assured that we were held secure through it.


We are held secure.

I don’t have to know if I am done having babies. I don’t have to cling tightly to my kids’ childhoods, like the goodness of it all is going to run out. Change, yes. Deplete, I don't think so. The older I get, the more I suspect maturity has less to do with knowing things and more to do with accepting all I don't know. I have only to rest secured in my Father’s arms and allow Him to take me where He’s leading.

God's been good. I'm growing into the sure belief He will continue to be.

So on this 35th birthday, I am reminding myself to keep living--to lean in, buckle up, and throw an open hand into the breeze of this glorious day. {And eat chocolate cake and banana ice cream. Today, after all, calls for it.}


Okay, you have to tell me, how are you about birthdays and cleaning out kids' closets?? Do you get all melancholy too?


By Grace (and more than a few gray hairs),

Amanda Conquers


Photo 3 is by KatieFewellPhotography.com and is used with permission.

Photo 2: ten million blog years ago this site was housed at the-cadence.com. It's my photo. Promise. I just misplaced the original so I'm stuck with the old watermark ;)