Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rooted on the Brink

This is me, being 28.

Oh hi, wee hours of the morning. 

It is with great aplomb that I saylook at that! I've finally conquered the fear of selfies! So many selfies.

I'd like to thank Snapchat and the discovery of working my angles for this momentous achievement.
Also no, you can't follow me on Snapchat.

I let myself wake up at 5:20 this morning, a strange rush of sleeping-in rebellion that tasted so sweet. Here's the first song of my 28th year, listened to while I savored the rebellion aftertaste (as rebellious as a responsible working adult/mother can get):

Chased by this, and this, and this. And then a little taste of this and this in the evening. It's been a good music day.

Keeping with the tradition of eating delicious breads for breakfast on my birthday, I sauntered in to work with a warmed croissant from Starbucks. There, I enjoyed a full day of endless Diet Coke, courtesy of the best co-workers I could ask for.

After a day of caffeinated tribute from my colleagues/students, I returned home to a thoughtful, inspiring gift from my husband. I walked in the sunshine with my daughter. I ate steak and ice cream and chatted with those dearest to me. Did I have a great birthday?

It was the best.

It was the best, and yet nothing too out of the ordinary happened. I hope this is a sign of that age, how perfectly content I am with the small beauties in life.

Like my obsession with the sky. Sky in the morning of my birthday (left), sky in the evening (right).

Oh man. 28. Can you believe I'm that young? Didn't 28 happen, oh, five years ago or so?

No. Not for me. Five years ago is when my husband turned 28, a thought that fascinates me. For him, 28 marked the cusp of life. He was on the edgethe edge of marriage, the edge of leaving Utah, the edge of further education and career. For me, 28 is old and stodgy and pretty well progressed in the world.

I love it. Here, at the end of my 27th year, I treasure my capability. It's amazing to feel like I actually can do anything. And I'm not talking about "I'm a starry-eyed college student and the world is the limit I'm going to revolutionize the whole country!" sort of anything. I mean that I know how to work, how to talk to people, how I can realistically achieve goals. It's an eerie sense that anything I want to do, I can do. Yes, there's prioritizing, and working, but everything is feasible, plannable, possible. What strange and heady power.

In my career, I'm perfectly capable. Sure, there are things that I want to improve at, but I've mostly moved past the desperate fumblings of a total beginner. In my marriage, I'm totally capable. Taylor and I have figured out how to communicate, serve, and work together. In my writing, as much as I wish I did more, I feel like I can draft and edit and revise and have a firm, strictly "Cat" voice. I'm so capable, I managed to create a human life.

Which is the most awe-inspiring part of this year. Childbirth and motherhood terrified me, seemed like the most arduous task one could ever undertake. And I did it. I know how lucky I was. How lucky I was that pregnancy did not bother me at the time, and quickly became a new standard of normal. How lucky I was in delivery, so lucky my doctor told me not to speak of it for fear of giving unrealistic expectations. But the luckiest of all is Alex herself. I pictured motherhood as pain and sacrifice, late nights and ear infections. gritting as my soul was stretched tight by endless screaming.

How could I have know the joy? And it's very influenced by the fact that Alex has been so lovely, so patient, so endlessly full of happiness and smiles. There is sacrifice, but it's the kind of sacrifice Taylor and myself needed and are able to handle, the kind that has made us perfectly grow as people. Our family and home are exponentially sweeter. Alex has brought a completion I couldn't have understood.*

Probably my favorite picture of me ever.
Through motherhood, and each minute choice that comes within that minefield, I know I can. I can accomplish anything. I can trust my instincts. I can make choices, and those choices are correct.

And now, as I face down 28, I hope to channel that capability. I've become as settled and established as I wished to be. Now, it's time to push for more. In 28, I'm going to search. I'm going to reach. I will take this newfound capability and create something spectacular.

After all, I'm standing on the brink of sabotage. There's bound to be some explosions.

It's going to be a great year.

27. 26. 25.

*Which is the most cliched thing I've ever heard, but for us it is true. Note: for us. Not everyone needs an Alex to get to that point. She is what I needed to become softer and more compassionate. She is what Taylor needed to become more service-oriented. Alex forced us to grow in ways we didn't know were necessary before, and which I'm glad we experienced, but I don't think that parenthood is the only way to develop in that manner.