This is 35.

Today is my birthday and reason enough to do a 'real' blog post, as in actually writing about a topic that is not just a monthly update on Porter or a quarterly Day in the Life. The topic? ME. It is my blog after all and today I am thirty-five years old, a milestone birthday of sorts. And it has me feeling rather introspective.

Other milestone birthdays: I remember my twenty-first birthday in a very blurry, digital-camera-at-the-bar-for-incriminating-photos way. I am truly so thankful that my college days came well before Facebook and social media in general, although I do still have photo prints somewhere to record the debauchery. It was an awesome birthday. I remember my thirtieth birthday as a less than awesome milestone since I had just found out I was miscarrying my second pregnancy the day before my birthday. Turning thirty meant growing up in a serious way, learning first-hand that life is not fair and crappy things happen. I know I felt rather 'old' on my thirtieth birthday because it seemed like my body was failing me by losing that baby, and then the subsequent prolonged/horrible miscarriage process.

Now, five years later, I have more respect for my physical body. I don't really feel 'old' despite my semi-permanent furrowed brow lines. My laugh lines. My glasses. My ever-multiplying gray hairs. My mom bod with post-pregnancy/nursing boobs (sad sad sad) and an extra flat booty. Those are the negatives, but you know what? I'm healthy, my body is strong, and it's allowed me to grow three amazing children. To hold them, to carry them, to feed them. It allows me to run, to train for races, to walk without pain---things that I cherish when I see what many of my patients endure every day. I am not sick. My body is full of life and energy and it allows me to live. I get to hug my loved ones and laugh and create those laugh lines over and over again. Isn't that pretty amazing? My body doesn't look like the 25 year old version anymore, but at 35 I'm starting to fully embrace the idea that growing older is a privilege, not a burden.

Well, I'd still like to have the wrinkle-free skin of my twenties and my D cup perky nursing boobs, but my vanity is lessening with maturity, I swear.

Exhibit A of the three hoodlums that once shared my body:
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More than the physical changes, I am keenly aware that thirty-five year old Julia is infinitely happier and more settled than twenty-five year old Julia. If I really step back from the daily grind, I am overcome with the realization that this life is absolutely all I ever wanted it to be when I was younger. I wanted to be married to Nate since I met him at age twenty. I dreamed of having 2-3 awesome kids with him, working at a fulfilling career,  owning a nice house, laughing with supportive friends, and soaking in our healthy and incredibly involved parents. My life is nowhere near perfect but it's absolutely charmed, and I do not take a second of it for granted.

Even when it's difficult to maintain composure when our three precious children are melting down in unison, even when I'm exhausted beyond measure after emotionally draining patients combined with plenty of solo-parenting, or feeling depleted and lacking patience because I'm simply stretching myself way too thin. Even when things are 'tough' I understand that my life is still incredibly blessed. Perspective is a wonderful part of growing older and I feel like this is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to self-awareness and realization.

Exhibits B and C:
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So the naive Julia of yesteryear would probably think thirty-five is 'old'. But really, it seems like life is just beginning, because it feels like we are beginning a new chapter. Closing out the baby phase and coming to terms with our family being complete is still a bit of a mess in my head. It's been such a definitive time for me---having babies, nursing babies, being a mom to small kids. Oh, how I wish I was one of those women who feels 100% content with being done. I'm not sure I will ever be there (even if we had a fourth) but I'm sure my feelings will evolve over time. There is so much fun to be had in this next chapter, so many experiences waiting to be had. Older kids are wonderful, something I'm learning with time, too.

My main guy, I'd for sure have one more with him if he was even 1% on board.
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This is thirty five: perspective. Embarking on the next chapter of life. Rediscovering myself aside from my beloved title of 'mother'. Remembering how wonderful sleep can be, including nights when we go to bed at 8:30pm and sleep without interruptions until 7:00am. Wiping tears from my eyes when I hear about another friend who has lost a child, or one who is caring for a sick parent. Pushing aside the anxieties that say, 'this could all be gone in a second, the bottom could drop out at anytime.' Swallowing a lump in my throat when I hear three lovely children giggling and hugging and playing together nicely. Proceeding with big emotions; ones of gratitude and frustration, worry and contentedness.

I am more than my age. I'm more than 'Nate's wife', or the T+C+P's mom. I have many roles and, God-willing, plenty ahead of me in the next thirty five years. If this sounds like I'm having a mid-life crisis, I'm really not. I'm just feeling extra deep and thoughtful today. When I asked Truman if he thought thirty-five was young or old, he considered the question and then said, 'Youngish old.'

Cheers to being youngish old, friends.

(My crew, after our first family 5k. We ran as a part of Team Kellan, for organ donation, last weekend. These are my people and I'm one lucky lady.)
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  1. Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great day with your beautiful family!

  2. Happy birthday, Julia! I've been reading your blog since you were pregnant with Truman {maybe even before that?} and have enjoyed getting to know your family through your blog! I love how you appreciate life and its gifts and I hope your day is wonderful!

  3. Happy Birthday! You say it beautifully. I'm 35, too, and feel the same way. Life is HARD (adulting is hard!) but life is really, really GOOD too. :)

  4. Great post! Happiest of birthdays to you!

  5. This is a beautiful post. Happy birthday!

  6. Happy Birthday and be happy that you have the knowledge to appreciate life! Your post is a good reminder for EVERYONE to be grateful for our blessings! Enjoy the day.

  7. A very happy birthday to you! It's my son's birthday today as well. Birthdays are funny to me as we get older since we tend to be more introspective. I remember thinking how old someone must be when they turn 30 - probably because my parents had us so young so they seemed much older, but in reality were the same age I am now when I thought they were so ancient. Ah, youth.

  8. Julia, this is such a lovely post. I have been following your blog for some time now and enjoy reading about your beautiful family. I can feel your happiness in a tangible way and I love it - I love to watch women come into their own. Happy 35th birthday - may the next milestone birthday be even better and bring you endless joy and happiness!

  9. Happy Birthday! You have a great perspective on getting older and appreciating what you have now (and I am older than you are so I have lots of wisdom, ha!). I like how you articulated your thoughts. Kids just keep getting better and better... 65% of the time, my kids' current stage is my favorite (two teens and a ten year old). Yes, to many more good years!!

  10. Happy Birthday!! You are a gorgeous 35!

  11. So beautifully written. Happy, happy Birthday to you!
    (Uh,and just another great part of having older kids - family vacations! It's a whole different ball game.)

  12. I love everything you said here! Spot on! I recently turned 34, and the other day I was looking at my fading stretch marks on my stomach and realized that I did not care one bit about them being there, and how amazingly awesome my body was for birthing two babes and how proud I was to still have the "proof" of all of that - saggy post-breastfeeding boobs and all. My 21 year old self, hell not even my 30 year old self, would have ever had that perspective. So again, spot on. And happy birthday!!

  13. Hi Julia - I am a longtime reader of your blog but haven't commented before today. Just wanted to say happy birthday and let you know that your post resonated with me. You have it figured out! Most days I can maintain perspective and remember how very fortunate I am even in the midst of not-so-fun stuff, but I needed the reminders in your post today. Thank you!

  14. Happy birthday Julia!! I hope you have a wonderful day. I relate to so much of this post - I have thoroughly enjoyed my thirties so far. I love the stability, the perspective, and the privilege. I am enjoying my kids at these "big kid" stages and am really loving coming out of the mom to tinies stage. As much as I loved loved loved my kids as babes, it's been a breath of fresh air to begin identifying again as "Kristal" and not always "mom".

    All that to say, twenties were great but thirties are infinitely better. <3

  15. I totally forgot that your birthday was coming up until I saw this post! I hope your birthday was wonderful and that your 35th year is one of the best you've ever had. Happy Birthday!

  16. Happy Birthday! I've been reading your blog and am IG follower for some time now. This post brings me to happy tears because it is exactly how I feel, but much more eloquently written than I could compose. I turn 35 in June so I'm right there with ya - great reflective post!

  17. Happy late birthday! I Love your perspective.


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