Something About 30s

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Turning 30 wasn't that big of a deal for me. I had all the trappings of a 30-something when I was in my 20s: a wife, two kids, a dog, a minivan, a house, an unexplainable obsession with a dandelion-free front yard, etc. It was about time I turned 30, even though I was still routinely mistaken for a college student.

True story: A door-to-door canvasser once asked me, toddler on my hip, if my mom or dad was home when I answered the door. Actually, it happened twice. The second time I wasn't caught off guard; with a bruised ego but level head I realized a simple "No" response would truthfully and effectively dispatch the canvasser from my porch.

This month I turn 33, which isn't really a milestone. But it does sound older. It feels older, too, and not just because I can't keep up with 20-somethings on the basketball court like I used to. The 30s are not a new thing anymore. They're familiar.

I can already hear the chorus of parents in their 40s/50s/60s laughing at the absurdity of feeling old in your 30s; bear with me and remember these feelings are relative. I know 33 isn't old. But it's not quite young, either. The things that were in some ways abnormal accomplishments in my 20s are now cultural assumptions. You're 33 and married with two kids and a house and a (so-called) career? Big deal. You've been out of college for 10 years.

My wife, Kate, and I recently reunited with some of our college friends for a reunion of sorts in Mexico sans kids. It was glorious, though, even without little ones, we all went to bed earlier, drank less and applied far more sunscreen than we would have 10 years ago.

Perhaps it's not so much my own age that's making me feel older. It's my kids. By the end of this month I'll have 5- and 7-year-olds. Kate and I can no longer lump ourselves in with "new" parents. We'll celebrate 10 years of marriage this month, and we're now seven years into this parenting thing.

Liam, our oldest, can read and write. He's tall enough to go on some waterslides and roller coasters. He plays sports. He gets embarrassed when we kiss him in public. (Just wait until he reads these columns!) Maggie, our youngest, took her first weeklong trip without parents in the spring, and in the fall she'll start full-day kindergarten. Both kids in school. Every day.

I remember feeling like the parents of infants and toddlers were kindred spirits in this unknown parenting frontier. Moms and dads of school-age children were in a different bracket. Their remembrances of newborns and even the toddler stage were fractured, less relatable.

I guess I'm one of those guys now.

-Joel Oliphint is a freelance writer and a lawn-mowing, weed-killing dad.