settled down?

Recently, I came to realize that this summer is the very first one that I will be living in the same place as the prior summer. Since I graduated from high school in 2003.

Where have I been?

Summer 2003: My parent’s house. Waiting for college. Working early mornings as a barista and late nights as a server. Not the best idea.

Summer 2004: A fraternity at UW. Each summer, about half of the men move out and the house is transformed into a co-ed compound. Why would I do this to myself? Rent was dirt cheap, like $300 for the entire summer. And I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t fun.

Summer 2005: Italy and France, studying and nannying. Exploring.

Summer 2006: A five bedroom house in Seattle with a bajillion other girls. We shared rooms.

Summer 2007: Thailand. Teaching, learning and interning.

Summer 2008: My bachelorette pad condominium in downtown Seattle. Working. Partying.

Summer 2009: Here, with my husband and stepson. Living. Brainstorming. Growing a baby.

Summer 2010: Still here, but this year, we are joined by our sweet baby girl.

Two summers living in the same place. Finally. Does this mean that I’m settled down?

Duh, you must be thinking. I have a husband, two kids, and a business. How could I possibly be more settled down?

On the other hand, I am only 25. I have so much more to see and do. There are countries I will visit and adventures I will have. There are future houses waiting for me to call them home. There are future neighborhoods for me to memorize like the back of my hand. Friends I haven’t met yet. Careers I haven’t started yet.

Life is anything but static. I used to think that my life would become somewhat predictable after I got married and had children. Boring, even. On the contrary, my days have become rich with unpredictable moments of joy. Little surprises around every corner. A baby’s infectious giggle, a child’s sweet words, a man’s loving embrace. I may not enjoy the same freedom of going anywhere at anytime. Eating or drinking anything I please. Dancing the night away. I do not even have the simple luxury of watching a movie from start to finish. Or taking a shower every day. And I won’t even get started about how long it takes to simply get out of the house with an infant.

Because I do not go anywhere without my daughter. I am exclusively breast feeding and so I rarely drink even small amounts of alcohol. Or eat as much delicious seafood as I’d like for fear of the mercury harming her little body. She needs me for nourishment and comfort. I need her to maintain peace of mind. If I’m not with her, I am worried about her. (Maybe I need to relax a bit lot.) We are two little peas in a pod.

Elizabeth Stone said it best, “Making the decision to have a child – It’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

I may not be jetting to Las Vegas for a weekend of debauchery. Or drinking beer at a football game. Or even going to the gym. Instead I have the sweetest little family. And I’d rather be with them than do absolutely anything else.

When you become a mother for the first time, your child takes over your life. Completely and utterly takes over your life. There is no greater sacrifice a woman can make than becoming a mother. (And I’m not even talking about what pregnancy does to our bodies.) Yet none of it is a sacrifice at all. On the contrary, a baby is the greatest gift we know we could have ever been given. We know, the universe has been good to us to gift us a baby.

The point of this post is to express my perspective as a young mother who is still thirsty for adventure. Wanderlust, you may call it. I know I am not alone, which is why many of my contemporaries would never dream of settling down with a man who has a child from a previous marriage, and then having a child of their own. Someday, they say. But definitely not yet. Pass the pill.

I used to be one of those women. (Minus the pill. Ha.) Thinking that I would wait to have kids until my late twenties or early thirties. I had dreams of traveling to every continent not covered in ice, living in an ashram, salsa dancing in Cuba. And then my life unfolded before me and I became who I am today. A mom, a stepmom and a wife.

Fortunately, my husband and I share the passion for traveling. We will travel as much as we can, babies in tow or not. Before we lay down to rest, we’ll stand in the shadow of an Egyptian pyramid and we’ll dance in Havana. We plan to live our lives to the fullest by indulging in our passions. Travel is what I’m talking about today, but this holds true whether it be travel or design or writing or blogging or cycling or yoga.

So, I may have a “crew” with which I travel, but we are not boring or dull or even completely settled down.

There is still too much to see.

How would you define “settling down”? Have you settled down? If so, at what age? And how does it feel?

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