by Ashley Weeks Cart

Hello Thirty! I’m greeting you with a big, sloppy, open-mouthed kiss!

It’s a funny thing, this welcoming a new decade. A few year’s ago, I would have predicted that I would be rocking in a corner weeping to mark this milestone. But a few year’s ago, I would have also predicted that on this day I would be a single woman living on the beaches of California.

My my my, how life is anything but predictable.

I was talking with a family friend about how comfortable I was with the new pronumber (totally a thing, right? Like pronoun, for numerals) that I’d be attaching to my age this month and that I was surprised by the relative calm, even excitement, I felt for the decade ahead. She responded that she always knew that her life was just as it should be when she welcomed birthdays with ease. If you’re content, why would you panic at the passing of another year?

And it’s true, I feel unbelievably lucky to be living the (unpredicted) life that I do. I never in a million year’s would have expected any of it at this stage in my life, and yet, I cannot possibly imagine it any other way.

This past decade was THE DECADE OF MAJOR LIFE EVENTS. Literally, James and I tackled nearly every major life milestone in our 20s. Heck, we met at the man’s 20th birthday party – so it began the moment we entered it. Education? Marriage? Home ownership? Children? Check! Check! Check! Check!

There is something so liberating about closing the books on that wonderful whirlwind that categorized our 20s and entering a new decade with zero expectations besides a better appreciation and awareness that life is joyfully, heartbreakingly unpredictable. I have no major goals. Or bucket lists. Or any sort of cliché agenda for my 30s. Beyond learning how to make a quilt and witnessing the birth of a child (from another body besides my own), I demand very little from this decade.

In fact, as I’ve been approaching my birthday and reflecting on the past thirty years, I keep circling back to the day that it all began, and thinking about my parents, specifically my mother, and what an amazing and remarkable thing happened on April 22, 1983. Now as a mother myself, I recognize the significance of birthdays for both the celebrant and the mom of the celebrant. My birthday is my mother’s Birth Day. And that is a more powerful thing than most of us acknowledge. On both Sunny and Kaki’s birthdays, I can’t help but be transported back to the day that they arrived, the day that we worked together to bring them into this world, and reflect on what a wild, weird, wonderful thing human life really is. (God, I do love me some alliteration).

So today, on my Thirtieth Birthday, I want to say thank you to my own mother for being strong and brave, especially on that day thirty years ago. Thank you for bringing me into this fragile, beautiful, incalculable world so that I could one day know the power of birthdays and a mother’s love, and wish you, mom, a Happy Birth Day.

Here’s to another unpredictable decade!