I’m just going to come right out and say it: Mothering in your 30s is about getting your proverbial sh*t together. School is out, and playtime is over. If you’re like most working mothers in America, by the time you hit your third decade, you’ve woken up to a few things. Unless you’ve been studying physics for the last 10 years, chances are you’re not going be a rocket scientist. You probably won’t be winning the lottery, either, and the sexy, financially solvent, psycho-spiritually evolved knight in shining armor isn’t going to show up at your door ready-made.
Mothering after 30 isn’t about giving up your dreams, but it is about taking responsibility for them. You’ve got another human being to take care of. You can’t get away with dating the hot guy even though you know something’s not quite right. You can’t casually experiment with mind-altering substances and trip your way through the next five years without a plan, a point of view and some kind of vision.
By 30, you’ve come to know the pitfalls of leading the unexamined life. You can still take risks. But now they have to be calculated. It’s time to grow up, Mama. And it might be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. You’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take stock and make some decisions. Big ones. About who you are and who you have been. About who you want to be.
Are you, for instance, going to marry a black man? Are you going to marry a white woman? Why? Do you believe in God? What about spanking? What’s your risk threshold—are you stocks or bonds? Just how motivated are you to turn that mountain of debt into a 529 college savings plan? Are you going to go to therapy to work out those childhood issues once and for all? Are you going to acknowledge that almost all of your relatives have diabetes and do something about changing your diet?
And here’s the big one. In the moment of truth, what matters more: your family or your career? What are you willing to lose? What will you sacrifice everything to keep?