Back in January I wrote a post about The Year I Turn Thirty. I talked about some of my thoughts about turning thirty and a kind of forecast for the year. Do pop over and have a look, it is (as you’d expect from me) extremely wise and witty. Ahem.

The Big Day is next week (all gifts and cards accepted, form an orderly queue) and to be honest, most of the expectations in that post are not far off. The biggest change has obviously been Emily’s birth – it seems very strange that I am revisiting a blog post written only  a few months ago yet Emily wasn’t anywhere near born. The experience of becoming a mother of two, by the way, was completely different from how I expected it to be. If you’re the parent of 2 or more kids, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a whole other blog post in itself.

One thing that is more or less how I expected is Daniel going off to nursery. I’m enjoying the mornings, although I’m still getting the hang of making the most of the time, and he is thriving amazingly well. He’s a clever, happy, confident little boy who I am very proud of. And Emily fits into our family perfectly – she really completes it. I have become more relaxed about some parts of parenting and more stressed about others. I’m probably as sleep-deprived as I expected, disappointingly!

As far as writing goes, tangible success isn’t yet mine – no book contracts, agents and publishers beating my door down, prize money and world recognition of my genius. But I am a different writer to what I was ten months ago. I’m more confident, I’m more willing to try stuff. I now have a respectable number of rejections under my belt, and a shortlisting in a competition (Writing Magazine, back in the spring. Yey!). I’ve been submitting my first work – a picture book that wasn’t even written when I did that post. I’ve got a novel in progress and am planning to attack NaNoWriMo with gusto, fun, and in the spirit it was intended. I have subscribers to my blog – yey you people! – and have tried cool things I never envisaged. I’m talking reviews, interviews, short stories. One month with well over 800 page views – that wasn’t even a dream in January! More importantly, I have made the most amazing friends, and chat with really inspirational people who are fast becoming heroes of mine. I’m not published, but I’m slowly gaining the confidence to think that one day I will be.

Personally, it’s not been the totally optimistic year I had hoped. When I wrote that blog post in January, my husband’s Grandad was feeling under the weather with shingles and had had a fairly miserable Christmas. By the end of February, he’d died and the following month we learned that his wife had cancer. A month later, I found out my own Grandpa had leukemia. They’re ok at the minute, just playing it step by step. It’s been hard in that respect, seeing people you love suffer in all sorts of ways. We’ve had some tough times ourselves in our immediate family unit too, although I think we’re out of those for now. We’ve had some real foundations put down in our faith too, which is stronger and more real than it’s ever been, and I know now as well what my vocation is. If you’re interested, look at Isaiah 65:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
…to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,

…to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.

I’m pretty much convinced that my long-term vocation is to care for people who are suffering, to reach out to them in love and comfort.

Anyway, now my birthday’s nearly here, I’m even more excited than I was then. I’m not having any pre-mid-life crisis or anything, quite the opposite. I’m actually relieved to be coming out of my twenties. I never fitted in as a twenty year old. I was never young or hip or fun or confident enough, and I always felt like I was trying too hard to fit in to that. As I approach 30, I’m growing into myself day by day, and feeling happier to be me than I’ve been since I was a child. So next week, I’m not celebrating presents, cards (although you will note I’m not turning them down. That would be silly.), balloons (yes, balloons, Husband of Mine, hint hint) but I’m celebrating being me. And, I almost forgot to mention, being four years married too! Do join me and raise a glass!

The Year I Turn Thirty

2010 is the year I turn thirty. Yes, it’s not until October, but it’s a big milestone!

I know a lot of people have hang-ups about milestone birthdays, and I’m probably due some kind of early-mid-life-crisis, but to be honest I’m actually pretty excited about it. I love birthdays anyway – every year since I turned fifteen I’ve had a sort of awed feeling that I actually made it to another one (nothing morbid, I’m just easily pleased). Thirty feels like a respectable, grown-up age. Your twenties are in-between times, you’ve got neither the optimism and energy of adolescence (or the excuse!) nor the maturity and hindsight that nothing but a bit of life experience can bring. It’s a time where you find out that your preconceptions that you grew up with are wrong, and you haven’t yet figured out new ideas to replace them. Whereas thirty is, to me, the time when you pull your socks up (figuratively speaking, of course!) and say ‘Right, this is who I am, this is what the last three decades have turned me into,’ and look ahead to the future as a new, mature adult. In theory anyway. I realise that I will almost certainly be not much different in a year’s time to now, but there’s always hope.

There are of course lots of targets I won’t have met by the time I’m thirty. I won’t have had a book published, although I’m going to keep (start?) plugging away at the short stories and competitions. I won’t have learned grace and poise and polish – I’m afraid that I am and always will be a bit of a shy, bumbling mess. But perhaps I will have learned to come to terms with it. I probably won’t have won the lottery or made millions. But I can come to terms with that too. What I will have done is gained a comfortable home and life, a wonderful husband and two adorable children (although one of them won’t be born until April. I’m assuming she will be adorable too). I have formed world-views and faith that I am pretty comfortable with, although these will keep being refined and tested.

When I’m thirty, I will also find my experience of motherhood changing, and this is so scary. Instead of the mother of a baby boy, which is how I’ve come to think of myself over the last two and half years, I will be the mother of a son who goes to nursery and a daughter. I cannot even begin to think how this will change me, but it will be the most exciting year finding out.

When I’m thirty, I will hopefully be a little wiser than I am now at twenty nine. I hope I will have learned how to save, and how to deal with difficult life events. I’ve had a few in my life already, that have definitely left their mark, and the year I turn thirty seems like a good time to deal with these and try to put them behind me. I’m hoping this year can also give me the strength to help my husband do this too, and that this year sees us having some better times as a family, able to put the challenging times of the past year or two behind us.

When I’m thirty I hope I will be further along my path as a writer. I keep setting a lot of goals, and they keep changing or being missed, but I hope that by the time my birthday comes round I will be better at keeping to my goals and more disciplined, seeing writing more as a job than a hobby and improving myself.

I know I am putting a lot of expectation into this year. I imagine there are people reading this and thinking ‘Don’t be daft, none of that is realistic,’ but I don’t care. I am, despite things that are going on at the moment, starting this year thinking that 2010 is a landmark year for me, and that things are going to go well for us. I am going to try and start this year being optimistic and full of hope.

What milestones do you have for your landmark birthdays? Or for 2010? I would love to know, and see if other people share my new-found optimism. After all, it’s not every year you turn thirty.