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It seems that 2024 is the year of the Tenth Anniversary. Perhaps it’s just the content circles I swim in, but MANY of the podcasters and bloggers I follow are commemorating ten years of business this year. Apparently starting a big project was THE THING to do in 2014.

I’ll be celebrating eleven years of blogging this August, so by the years I’m just ahead of the curve. The same can’t be said for any form of blogging metrics or external standards of achievement. That’s not to say I’ve fallen behind on my goals, because I never set any. But it would be easy to look around at the obvious successes of others and feel I’ve somehow failed.

It’s in these moments, when comparison and self-condemnation are threatening to pounce, that I’m particularly grateful for spiritual practices that keep me grounded. Reflecting periodically on what I’m learning draws me back to my core values and reminds me that my mind, soul, and spirit have not remained stagnant. Eleven years has not brought notoriety or financial success, but if lessons were dollars I could count myself a very rich woman indeed.

1. I need to make my expectations known to those I love.

My 40th birthday was not what I had hoped it would be. It’s hard for me to even admit that I had any hopes for my birthday because I’ve spent years telling myself that my birthday doesn’t matter, and that caring about things such as birthdays is self-indulgent and pretentious. Apparently I didn’t get my own memo. The expectations were present, whether I wanted them or not, and whether I realized I had them or not. Then, as my first day as a forty-year-old was drawing to a close, I found myself trying to suppress tears that eventually evolved into heaving sobs I couldn’t conceal from Luke.

After some prompting, I was honest with Luke about my hurt that many friends and even family members had failed to acknowledge my birthday, and I cautiously admitted my feelings that Luke, too, had let me down. This was hard for me to share and hard for him to hear, but ultimately it was a breakthrough for us in our relationship. Luke validated emotions I couldn’t yet validate for myself, and his humble response confirmed how much he values my honesty—even when it’s painful. I’d shared my expectations too late for anything to be done about my birthday, but Luke more than made up for it on Mother’s Day: he took the kids out to breakfast so that I could sleep in, bought me flowers as well as a thoughtful gift, offered to give me a massage, had the kids make me cards, and was especially helpful around the house—all things I’d hoped for on my birthday that did not happen because I had not expressed to Luke that they mattered. Ideally these things would not matter to me, and I’m still wrestling through some shame over the entitlement and selfishness embedded in my expectations. But as long as my expectations ARE present, I plan to be more intentional about expressing them to avoid future instances of disappointment and subsequent resentment.

2. The idea of turning 40 was scarier than the reality of a new age.

Isn’t this true with so many things that scare us? The lead up is often the hardest part and not worth the anticipatory angst. (I guess Jesus knew what he was talking about when He told us not to worry about what’s to come.) I’d dreaded turning forty, but now that I’ve accepted this new age it isn’t so bad. At least now my facial wrinkles and creaky joints feel legitimate rather than premature. I will say that being pregnant at forty has helped: it’s hard to feel too ancient when a new life is visibly growing inside of me.

3. The solar eclipse was worth the hype.

Eclipse Fever caught our region of Texas by storm and I didn’t understand what the fuss was all about. But four minutes beneath a fully eclipsed sun made a believer out of me. It was an incredible, awe-inspiring moment that I will never forget. Sometimes God gets our attention through small gestures, and sometimes it takes a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event. I’m glad I paused long enough to notice.

4. Pay for the car wash membership.

We have a drive-through carwash a few minutes from our house, but until a couple of months ago I had rarely used it. I almost always managed to talk myself out of going, worried that the van would get dirty again in no time and my money would have been wasted. In March the carwash was running a killer deal—Buy a Wash, Get a Month’s of Washes Free—so I coughed up the cash with plans to cancel my membership at the end of the month. Three months in, I’ve yet to cancel my membership and don’t plan to. I love the freedom that comes with knowing I can drive through the carwash at any time without engaging in the mental gymnastics of whether or not it will be worth it. I don’t worry about the weather forecast or if the car will come out clean enough (if it doesn’t, I’ll drive through a second time!). I’m paying less than I did pre-membership, but I’d be willing to keep the membership even if it wasn’t a money-saver because it has given me one less thing to overthink.

5. A singleton pregnancy at 40 is easier than a twin pregnancy at 35.

My pregnancy with the twins was pretty brutal—MUCH harder than my pregnancy with Charleston five years prior (and harder by far than parenting twin newborns). At the time I wondered whether it was because I was carrying twins or because I was now officially “geriatric.” My current pregnancy confirms that the difficulty had more to do with number of babies than my age. I’m currently on the cusp of my third trimester and feel infinitely better than I did with the twins at this point. In fact, until a couple of weeks ago, I forgot I was pregnant most days. I’m now starting to feel some aches and pains, and the fatigue is setting in, but the symptoms are manageable. I suppose I can be thankful for my twin pregnancy for making this one feel like a walk in the park in comparison. Let’s hope parenting a singleton after twins is just as breezy!

(Pictured below: my 25-week belly with each of my pregnancies at ages 30, 35, and 40.)

6. It’s okay to ask for a break.

This ties back to point #1 of learning to be honest with my husband. Last month I was going through a particularly rough patch with the kids and desperate to get away. With Luke’s blessing I put a “Kendra Night” on the calendar and treated myself to a pedicure and dinner date with a book while Luke wrapped up dinner with the kids and got them to bed. The few hours of solo time did wonders for my mental health and our whole family benefitted from that mid-week break that helped me to be a more patient and joyful wife and mama for days afterward.

7. I’m thrilled to be having a baby boy!

Long before we were pregnant with baby #4, when I would envision the possibility of four kids, I always pictured three boys and one girl. I LOVE having a daughter but never wanted more than just the one. But when we announced our pregnancy, everyone around us started rooting for a baby girl. I didn’t have a preference but worried that if baby were a boy I would be disappointed because everyone else thought we should be hoping for a daughter. Thankfully that disappointment was another premature fear that I needn’t have worried about. I am excited to be adding another son to our crew, and this balance feels just right for our family. I’ve even (mostly) managed to let go of my sadness over not getting to use one of the lovely names on our Girl List. (So long, Juliet or Holiday or Karaleigh.) The Lord has always known the shape our family would take, and I’m grateful that my heart hasn’t needed any convincing that “three boys and a girl” is not just a reality to accept but something I can genuinely celebrate.

I hope you’re up for some reflection because you know I’m going to ask: what have YOU been learning lately? I’d be honored if you shared with me in the comments!

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