Today I'm 35 years old.
The Big 3-5.
Five years ago, I turned the big 3-0; and five years before that I turned the big 2-5.
I'm kind of glad that we celebrate milestones in 5's, because that just makes the math a heck of a lot easier for me. And anyone who knows me understands how much I need simple math. 🙂
When I turned 30, I had a meltdown. The only thing that brought me out of the dark hole of the universe was the announcement that I was to become an auntie for the very first time.
What's changed since then?
Well there have been some big changes… and some not-so-big changes.
I'm still not married, I still don't have children, I still haven't written the 3 books that I had planned to have done by now, and Coming Home is barely a fetus at the moment, let alone a full-fledged ministry.
It sometimes still bothers me.
I know parents mean well when they talk about kids changing their whole lives; but in their ecstasy and exhaustion, sometimes parents forget how condescending that becomes for single people/childless couples. They forget that parent/child relationships aren't the only life transforming relationships, and aren't the only ones with unique and bewildering features. So when I hear about how I don't understand — or CAN'T understand — because I don't have a mother/child bond, it sometimes gets hard to bite my tongue, because the parent has neglected to ask about the kinds of relationships I have the could be as powerful.
Does that sound like "poor me"?
Meh… perhaps a part of it is. A part of it is how society has ordered itself — nuclear family worship, with others carefully arranged outside so that "love" is shared appropriately, but not too intimately because to move the family as we know it would be an affront to parents and children alike (not really, but the fear is there).
At 30, these things dragged me down weeping. I mean, we judge "adulthood" by marriage, child-bearing, and house-buying. I have done none of these. Often times, I still think I'm 16! I'm not an adult yet! I haven't had a baby!
At 35, these things bother me… but I think the adult part of me has learned that the traditional hallmarks of adulthood aren't hallmarks. Not really. Not that I don't want them! I'd love to have kids someday! But I'm learning, sometimes painfully, that growing through a process of family-making doesn't always look like someone else's.
Family is bigger. Much bigger.
Family is being auntie to 2 energetic boys (complete with extra motors), pretending our treehouse is Bag End or jumping high on grandma's nicely made bed.
Family is being confused in relationships and sharing this with 2 good people — a married couple — who have "been there".
Family is engaging a complete stranger, and discovering the Christ in them and suddenly the gap between us is almost non-existant.
Family is realizing that 35 is a number… because no one is too old to go sledding in the winter or have water fights in summer.
Family is… being around people who love one another with the kinds of love that know not all people fit a mold… who don't hold other kinds of families up against others… who recognize different kinds of love where it's found… and become delighted that Christ's footprint has been there long since before we arrived.
If I ever get married… if I ever have kids… I hope I never to forget these lessons: love is powerful in all its forms, extending from the Source Love Himself. I know how I felt with Katie (my baby from Romania)… I know how I've felt for others… perhaps God has kept me single to understand that love isn't hierarchichal. Someone's profound experience with love, such as parents and children, is beautiful and wondrous… but not superior to a single person's connection with a dear friend who has cancer.
Some might disagree.
Since my 30th birthday, I've changed jobs to a position that I love here at the Friendship Centre… I've completed a grad degree… I've begun a new relationship… I've started a seed project for Coming Home.
It all might end tomorrow. That's true.
But I am young enough at heart to understand that love doesn't just go away, even when it gets really, really dark.
For there is no such thing as a complete absence of light.