This Stage of Life

Within the past few years, there’s been a blog post circulating amongst my friends about “this stage” of life. The specific stage the author addresses is mid-20 to 30 somethings, married for a few years, and probably with a couple of kiddos. She talks about all kinds of things: your squishier body, mental and physical exhaustion, huge life decisions, struggling with identity, and guilt.

Mom-Guilt is Real

I think guilt is what resonates with most people I know who read it. Seriously, who doesn’t have it from time to time? (If you raised your hand, teach me your ways!).

In this stage of life, you are dealing with guilt. Guilt over having a career, and not spending enough time with your kids, or guilt over staying home with your kids, and not doing enough to contribute financially. Guilt over being too harsh with your kids. Too lenient. Guilt that your house is clean, but your kids were ignored, or guilt that you enjoyed your children all day, and now your husband is coming home to filth.

Doesn’t that just sum it up? Pretty sure I cried the first time I read it (“pretty sure” meaning I definitely did). Everyone will deal with these feelings, no matter how you decide to parent, your employment status, or how clean (or not) your house is.

Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom. She gives some really good advice about how to cope with all of this; to pray, to ask for help, to do something you enjoy every day, to lower your expectations, to learn to say “no,” etc.

It is a really good article. But, since you’re reading mine…I’m hoping you also want to hear what I have to say 🙂 so, here is my take on what “this stage of life” looks like.

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Families are Formed

This stage of life is full of more new marriages than new relationships. Most people have exited the playing field and settled into married life. A few years ago, it was BIG news when a new couple was “Facebook official” and it was just weird when someone got married. I remember hearing several conversations like this “so and so can’t get married…we’re just babies! We’re not old enough to do those things.”

We were 22 and 24 when we got married, and even though we both knew what we were doing and felt “old enough” to be doing so, we’ve grown so much and matured since then. Now the young adults (resisting the urge to say “kids” 🙂 ) that are getting married were a few years behind me, and some of them seem SO young. But I think it’ll always be like that looking at the stage just behind you. Time marches on…

Side note: If you haven’t gotten married or don’t want to, you are JUST FINE! Being in or out of a relationship seems to define you at times, but don’t let it! God created YOU just the way you are and there is nothing “wrong” with you or riding solo. *atta boy/girl smack*

Families are Growing

This stage of life is more pregnancy/birth announcements than graduation announcements. If you’re like me, you’ve been out of school for a while (unless you’re next-level and have been in grad school all these years). Though we may not have settled into our careers, we’ve achieved whatever level of education we were after (at least for now) and are excited to start our families.

Most of us have at least one bundle of joy, and some are on round 2 (or 3…or 4). This month alone, I have seen announcements for no less than 5 precious little ones expected to make their debut by the fall. We’re no longer focused on our own graduation, we’re preparing for theirs!

Friendship Runs Deep

This stage of life is more about meaningful relationships and less about cliques. I’ve always had a wide range of friends, and a small handful of close relationships, but now I am friends with people that I would never have hung out with in high school. I don’t even mean that I was snotty…I mean that goofy tuba-playing band geek would have had very little in common with (and been intimidated by) Miss Athlete and Miss Homecoming Queen.

One of my favorite things about adulthood is that none of that matters! You build friendships based on so much more than mutual friends and try to figure out life/parenting/marriage together. We all have good (and bad) memories, but which crowd I hung out with or what I accomplished in high school has very little impact on what I do on a daily basis.

Fashion is Secondary

This stage of life is more about function and less about fashion. I couldn’t care less if you’ve never heard of the brand of my jeans or if my tennis shoes are last year’s model. “Sure, that shirt looks nice, but how will it look covered in toddler?” “Those are super cute shoes, but I can only wear them with a small handful of things…so polite pass.” “This dress costs that much?!? I can buy 3 somewhere else for that price.” Mama’s gotta get more bang for her buck.

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Trading in the Old for the New

This stage of life is less about covering up acne (aka “sassy skin”) and more about….nope, still got me stuck there. Rats!

This stage of life is more about careers and less about side-hustles. Whether you’re a single or dual-career family, finding the sweet spot between work and work-life balance is a constant thought. Back in college, it wasn’t uncommon for people to have 2 or 3 side gigs plus class…you were just always busy, and that was ok. Now, I guard my evenings like my life depends on it, because I’m positive that it does!

This stage of life has more pictures showing off shiny new house keys instead of an awkward Driver’s License mugshot. The people we were told to “watch out for” on the road are probably still out there, and are probably swinging wide in order to not hit their own mailbox.

So, what’s my two cents on navigating this stage?

Don’t Survive, Thrive!

  • Keep your priorities straight. We’ve talked about this before: God, husband, family, everything else.
  • Read your Bible and pray every day. It’s not enough to just “talk to God,” you have to let him talk back to you through his Word. No one likes one-way relationships.
  • Remember that we are still young, but are not promised tomorrow.
  • Do like Tim McGraw says and “always stay humble and kind.”
  • Keep your sense of humor.
  • Don’t compare yourself to someone else’s stage of life. It’s hard, but let them do them and you do you.
  • Give advice and be a good friend, but know that other’s decisions are not your responsibility.
  • If you haven’t practiced taking a deep breath before reacting or speaking, now is a good time to start.
  • Be gentle to yourself. You’re probably a harsher critic than anyone out there.
  • Take little family vacations (or even day trips) and make sweet memories.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

 – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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