My 20-year reunion is coming up next weekend. TWENTY YEARS. Once the shock of that number has settled in, what starts to set in is the realization that the dress rehearsal phase of life is over . . . it’s showtime. It’s been showtime.

At the 10 year reunion, you may have been finishing up grad school, still switching jobs trying to find the right fit, thinking of (or actively) starting a family . . . still somewhat in the planning stages of adult life. Most of everything still seemed up ahead. It seemed there was so much time still to correct mistakes, make U-turns, to begin “someday” to start being more financially responsible or accomplish your dreams.

But at the 20-year mark, you’re approaching 40 and realizing that someday is now. While it’s, of course, never too late to correct mistakes, make U-turns, or start pursuing your dreams, the difference between 38 and 28 is that life has sobered you up in a sense; you’ve gone from fantastical and fickle in your thinking to more realistic and responsible. You’ve come to realize, from your life experiences, from your losses, that “someday” is today.

Yet, despite life sobering us up–despite being another decade older–somehow life is better and I find myself looking forward to this 20-year reunion more than I did the 10-year.

I may have more lines on my face and 10 (or a few more) pounds on me than the last time we met, but I have a more open heart and a better head on my shoulders. I’ve matured into a woman since then.

Rather than trying to compete with you, comparing stories of all we’ve accomplished, I’m just happy to see you—that you’re still here. We’ve had some losses in our class since then.

I probably had more options then in a sense, but there’s an unsettledness that comes with that sometimes . . . like a restaurant with too big a menu, there’s a fear of making the “wrong” choices. I’ve settled into my life since then.

I’ll probably try on less outfits this time and be able to carry on a conversation with you a little better, looking you in the eye whether there’s a drink in my hand or not. I’ve learned to love and accept myself since then.

I don’t sweat the small stuff as much and have come to know what true, unconditional love feels like—and understand that it’s all that truly matters. I’ve become a mother since then.

The youth of my twenties was nice, but I wouldn’t go back if you paid me. A skinnier waist, no dark spots, more freedom—that’s 28. But not knowing if I’d have the courage to see the fruition of my dreams, caring far too much about the opinions of others, a more shallow appreciation for the gift of life itself . . . that’s also 28. 

But knowing who I am and what I’ll tolerate . . . 

Appreciating the simplicity of quiet moments . . . 

Loving my husband fully for the human he is—the good and the bad—rather than believing he should be some sort of Prince Charming . . . 

Raising my son and loving him on his good days and bad . . . 

The fact that I’m actually writing this rather than just dreaming about it . . . 

Being thankful I still get to call up my mom and dad . . . 

Loving this beautiful yet bittersweet life and still having enough time left to keep dreaming . . . 

This is 38.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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The Glorious Middle Years of Parenting

We’re Moms in Our 40s and We Get it Now

This Stage of Life? It’s Hard Too

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Krissy Brynn Jackson

I am a teacher, wife, and mom who's passionate about writing, sharing, & building community with other women (whether teachers, moms, or neither!).  I began blogging with consistency & a clearer vision about a year and a half ago and it's truly my passion project.  Although my site is directed toward a "teacher-mom" audience, only about a third of my writing is specific to teaching...most is about motherhood or inspiration type pieces about life in general.  My mission when writing & sharing is, above all else, to be REAL.