The other day I talked with one of my closest friends on her 30th birthday. She asked me if I liked turning 30.
I loved it.
She didn't believe me, so I stumbled to explain. Later, as I privately delved deeply inside, it all started to make sense.
A few months before my 30th birthday, my mom mentioned that she thought her 30's were the best. She talked about how much she loved having children, how much it changed her, and how much new confidence and happiness she felt she had.
As my birthday approached, honestly, I think I thought my life would change a lot -which it actually did.
While engaged, my (now) husband notified me that I should no longer wear "rambo" watches, (like this one). I laughed, and took it off. He bought me a cute, dainty, skinny, not water-proof, classy watch. I wore it, although I didn't like it at all, and sadly tucked my rambo watch in the back of a drawer.
The symbolism of this act was enormous for me. I had spent six years completely focused on and devoted to my husband. He was amazing, and I was so in love. I was determined to be, well, the perfect wife for him. Don't get me wrong, my husband was wonderful, loving, supportive, etc., but I was totally engrossed in becoming what I perceived he wanted me to become: the perfect doctor's wife. Very slowly, I was becoming someone that I hardly recognized. Was I happy? Yes. But, there was always a nagging, though completely suppressed, feeling that I became very good at ignoring. But, somehow, right as I turned 30, I made a very small decision: to find my rambo watch and wear it. This decision symbolized my allowing that feeling to surface. My husband immediately noticed, and assured me that the rambo watch did not look good. I laughed. But this time, I kept it on. I told him that it was me, it was important to me because I liked it, and I needed him to "give me space and let me fly."
This phrase was from Sister Marjorie Hinckley. It is in President Hinckley's biography, and was also repeated during an interview with her and President Hinckley in their home years ago. The interviewer asked President Hinckley how he avoided what some husbands do: "compel their wives to fit the standards of what they think to be the ideal." Sister Hinckley said, "From the very beginning he gave me space and let me fly... He has made me feel like a real person. He has encouraged me to do whatever makes me happy. He doesn't try to rule or dominate me." President Hinckley said, "Let her fly. Yes, let her fly!" I pulled this article out of the Ensign and kept it folded as a bookmark for years. It became important to me right around this time. I had never felt in our marriage that my husband was trying to fit me into a box of standards and ideals, but I was trying hard to climb in myself. He gave me space to let me fly, but I held back. I didn't have the courage.
But, yes, at age 30, somehow the courage came.
Little by little, I started bringing out my rambo watches - metaphorically speaking. It was a little bit rocky at first, which was totally expected. I'm sure my husband had no idea what was going on - or why. I didn't even understand it at the time. Eventually I even started a masters degree program, even though we already had two small children and I was expecting another, and my husband was in his second year of medical school. I had a lot of energy and new courage, and I felt like I could do anything. Luckily, I married a man who just let me go, supporting my new ideas and activities, and "let me fly."
I hope my friend has a wonderful experience turning 30. And apparently, it just keeps getting better. When I reminded my mom of our conversation, she said, "Oh, but my 40's were even better than my 30's!"