I’m so glad I became a parent in my thirties.

Had I been one in my twenties, I’m quite certain I would’ve been a different kind of parent, because I’m a different person in my thirties than I was in my twenties. I see so many other moms in their twenties who mother beautifully and I just don’t know if that would’ve been me.

Sometimes I wonder if I would’ve had the patience I have now, although that is slim to none at times. I’m afraid in my twenties it would’ve been none to none. I’ve always been fiery and passionate, but now I have the self-control to rein it in. I can bend a knee and be calm in the middle of a tantrum storm. Part of me wonders if in my twenties, I would’ve been able to do that.

In my thirties, I was both overjoyed and overwhelmed as a new mother. But the overwhelming part took me by surprise. I had postpartum depression and distinctly remember this “death of self” feeling that sat on my chest. I can’t help but feel that in my twenties this feeling would’ve suffocated me.

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Oh, and marriage. In my twenties, would I have had the presence of mind to understand that children rock a marriage? They just do. Having children sends it tempest-tossed out into the sea. Some marriages hit rocky shores. Get a tear in the side and can never recover. Some learn how to steer . . . better together. Would that have been me? Or would I have been foolish thinking I didn’t need this man when things got tough? In my thirties, I know what I have and am so thankful for it.

Sometimes I wonder if I would’ve had the same wisdom in my parenting that I do now. Would I have stood my ground too harshly rather than pick my battles? I don’t know. I can’t help but feel I would’ve been sucked into power struggles like a sudden rip tide that threatens to pull you out to sea. Now, I can see it for what it is and swim parallel to my child and help us both find a way out. All because I know better, now.

But of this I am sure: I would’ve had the same fierce love. That would not have changed. I would’ve still climbed heaven and earth for them. Still died to myself a thousand times over to become the best parent I could be. Still paced the floor with them at night. I would’ve still calmed their cries and soothed their tired, achy bodies. Still cuddled on the couch and have dance parties in the living room. I would’ve still placed their needs above my wants. I would’ve still felt like they were the most important work I would ever do. And maybe because of this fierce love, it wouldn’t have made as big a difference as I think sometimes.

Sherry White

Sherry White writes about the messiness of life, parenting, and faith at her blog The Messy Christian. She tries to add her own brand of humor and insight into everyday issues we all face, reminding us that even though we find ourselves in countless messes, God’s grace lights the way. She would be thrilled if you follower her on Facebook and Instagram.