Having children at any age is a life-altering event. From teen moms to the oh-so-flattering term “geriatric pregnancy,” women experience motherhood in various ways. That is especially true for thirtysomething moms.
I can tell you that being a mom in my 30s has been a wildly fun roller coaster ride. The circle of life is a funny thing. As a kid, I remember laughing at my mother when she grunted whenever she picked something up off the floor. Well, Mom, I see you. I know you. To all the thirtysomething moms out there, I AM you and know what you’re going through.
Your Body Changes
Even without babies, once we enter our 30s, we start to notice . . . changes. You know what I mean. We can’t look at a doughnut without gaining weight. Hangovers take at least 10 business days to dissipate. We find ourselves looking forward to a 9 p.m. bedtime.
Coupled with being a mom in your 30s, those changes can feel magnified. Body insecurity can be at an all-time high after pregnancy, and then you deal with the stress postpartum brings. The exhaustion and sleep deprivation of being pregnant, then having a newborn can make it hard even to want to consider moving your body in a meaningful way that doesn’t involve a cozy blanket and a pillow. It’s one of those things that the more you know it’s good for you, the more guilty you feel for not doing it daily. Be kind to yourself and realize your body housed a baby for 10 months and now provides the love and comfort your baby needs. The treadmill can wait even if that stubborn voice inside your brain tells you otherwise.
On the other hand, carving out even five minutes a day can do wonders for your mental and physical health. Those five minutes don’t have to be HIIT workouts but rather any way that gets you moving your body with a specific goal for those precious minutes. A quick spin around the block, a guided meditation, or old-fashioned jumping jacks can help reset your mind and body.
Your Friendships Change
Friendships as a mom in your 30s can go through some serious changes. You’re at the age where you realize just how immature you seemed in your 20s and how comforting it can be to have friends in your 30s. As a thirtysomething mom, you can relate to other moms experiencing the same things. Texts from the night before are answered at 6 a.m. the next day when you get up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with your little one.
You also know why your friend left you on “read” last week. Hint: she saw it, made a mental note to respond, and then crap hit the fan with her toddler. And guess what? You’ve been there too, and you don’t take it personally. I can’t tell you how many calls and FaceTimes I’ve been on with my friends only to hear an abrupt “gotta go,” followed by a wailing scream in the background. Then the call quickly ended. A subsequent text of “Everyone alive over there?” with a “Lol” proves we get it.
Friendships also naturally change as we become thirtysomething moms with friends who do not have children. I can confidently confirm that just because a friend doesn’t have children doesn’t mean they won’t remain a huge presence in your life. But for some, the huge differences between having a child versus not having a child create a wedge in a friendship that might cause it to distance itself organically. This doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. But know that it is common for friendships to change as you navigate different life stages.
Your Social Scene Changes
As a thirtysomething mom, your social scene also has a definite shift. Your calendar now consists of play dates instead of dinner dates and story hour instead of happy hour. Most of your social life is spent with other families with young children, and you start to meet new friends based on your child’s new friends. Daycare, preschool, and elementary school are great ways to meet other like-minded families in your age bracket with similar interests.
With all the social changes that come with raising kids in your 30s, there comes a feeling of peace and contentment. I remember being in my 20s and feeling like I had to go out all the time, had to look a certain way, and always had to impress those around me. The comfort of finding more confidence within yourself to be you is such a great feeling. It is truly one of the best parts about entering your 30s. In many cases, you no longer feel like you must “be somebody” and can more easily be your authentic self. This feeling translates incredibly over to motherhood.
There is indeed an element of judgment and competition due to societal pressures and social media. But there is a general feeling in your 30s of doing what you feel is right for your family. You know what will make your family tick and the confidence that comes with that is elusive in your 20s. With age comes maturity and the recognition of knowing what is truly important in life. I cringe when I think of what I prioritized in my 20s versus what I now prioritize as a thirtysomething mom. While I am far from perfect, I am thankful I have made it to this point with a clearer view of what is essential.
There Are Daily Challenges
Being a thirtysomething mom comes with its share of challenges. We grapple with much—work, childcare, special needs, aging parents, spouses, and housekeeping. The list seems never to end, and the mental load of it all can feel crushing. And while the well-meaning woman at the grocery store reminds us, “You’re gonna miss this one day!” and we know we will, it can still feel overwhelming and insurmountable now.
Balancing it all is such a juggling act that a ball is dropped many times. An appointment is missed, the deadline isn’t met, and you lose your temper with your spouse. We might be missing the more leisurely days of our 20s when everything felt more manageable and when we didn’t have the obligations of a mortgage and childcare bills. In those moments, I remember praying for the things I have today. A spouse who loves me unconditionally, a home in a safe neighborhood, and babies who look at me with stars in their eyes as they cuddle up on my lap.
There will always be an element of wishing for what’s on the other side. That’s natural, and we are human! The dichotomy of being bone-crushingly exhausted while being the happiest you’ve ever been can and does exist. Both feelings can be true; acknowledging and giving yourself grace can go a long way.
Thirtysomething moms, I see you. And I know exactly how much you do every day to keep those wheels on the bus turning.