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I have three beautiful children and I love our life as a family of five (especially now that we are officially out of the “baby years”). I’m proud of the family my husband and I created and I never, for one minute, regret our decision to become parents (three times).

My husband and I began our relationship the summer after graduating from high school. Our relationship weathered college, our first jobs, and a move away from home to the Washington, DC area so I could attend graduate school. While we were there, we were married and after graduation we moved back to CT. A year later we welcomed our first daughter. As my fortieth birthday approaches, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on and remembering different stages of my life thus far and I’ve decided the years between graduating from college and the birth of my first child were some of my favorite. I was finally an adult living on my own. Since I had met my husband as a teenager, we didn’t really feel as if we were in a grown-up relationship until we moved away. We were in love, had a real home (well, a tiny apartment) and we were managing somehow to afford our simple lives. Life was good and I miss several things about that time.

1. Sundays. Sundays were our day. We would sleep until the sun woke us and then we would sleep some more. We would go for long drives looking at mansions and dream about the life we would eventually have. We would go to the diner for breakfast and sit there for an extra hour drinking coffee and talking. When we were in DC, we might spend the entire afternoon walking around the city, wandering into a museum or a store, or finding a place to sit and just…sit. We would spend hours at a book store reading magazines and books we couldn’t afford to buy. During football season we would spend the day together on our couch while he watched, I read, and often we would both take a nap. Now that our children are getting older we are definitely finding our lazy Sundays are returning but a Sunday with five people is just not the same as our Sundays as a couple.

2. Cell Phone Free Lives. I did not buy a cell phone until the year 2000. It was a simple phone that was only used in emergencies. I honestly cannot believe that I used to drive around, by myself, in Washington, DC, without a cell phone. I would drive through a horrible area on the outskirts of the city to get home, AT NIGHT, because it was a short cut. What was I thinking?? That being said, I do miss that time before cell phones. I miss being with people and truly being with them. I miss sitting at a meal with my husband having nothing else to do but talk to each other. Without social media, I also had no idea what other people in my lives were up to on a certain day so I definitely spent less time comparing my own activities, possessions, or ideas to others back then. I also spent less time feeling disappointed in others because of their words, ideas, or choices that are now posted on social media for all to see, hear, and, unfortunately, judge.

3. Feeling Young and Invincible. I was in the best shape of my life before I had children. I had time to go to the gym every day and I attended several group exercise classes a week. Not one part of my body ached. Ever. I would take on any physical activity without fear of hurting myself. I remember watching commercials for various prescription drugs that treated all sorts of ailments that “older people got” and thinking, “I’m so glad I’m not old”. I would skip the store aisle with the skin cream—my face was flawless. I was also never really worried about anything. Sure, I worried about scrounging together money for our monthly rent and some evenings I would worry about my safety as I walked back to my car after a class. These days, however, I feel as if I’m in a constant state of anxiety. I worry about my children, our finances, my health and the health of my husband. I worry that I may lose one of my parents sooner rather than later. I worry about random violence impacting someone I love. I worry about every decision I make related to my family. The list goes on and on. Is this anxiety debilitating? No. In fact, I’m pretty sure my anxiety level is relatively normal for someone with three children and typical adult responsibilities. I miss my worry-free life, though. I miss falling easily to sleep. I miss feeling invincible and I miss my innocence.

As I move into my forties, I have found that I am definitely feeling happier, more comfortable with whom I’ve become as a person, and I’m so proud of all I’ve accomplished. The fog of the baby years as lifted and my husband and I find plenty of time for fun and relaxation with and without our children. I definitely miss my pre-parent life, however, and some days I wish for it again with longing. I will always remember that time with both a smile and an ache in my heart. Those years will always be part of my journey and they absolutely helped to shape whom I’ve become.