|Enjoying a pint in Southwold, England, August 2006|
I will be turning 32 in a little over two months. I had my first baby a month before my 30th birthday. So I wasn’t exactly a spring chicken when I started having kids. And yet, everyone thinks they need to give me advice and tell me their opinion on everything regarding my parenting. When I say everyone, I mean that literally- people at the grocery store, the playground, other moms I meet, etc. Why, you ask? I used to think that every mother had to put up with these types of well-meant insults. But as I told my friends about these encounters, they were shocked and let me know that they were never approached by anyone concerning their children. Then it dawned on me: I look like I’m about 18 years old!
I know what you’re thinking: That’s wonderful, I should be glad to look that much younger. If that is still the case in ten years, I’m sure I will be glad. However, now it is really not practical. Do you treat an 18 year old with the same respect as a 32 year old? Do you trust their opinions and decisions as much? I’m thinking your answer is probably ‘no’. So, you see, looking very young is highly impractical and can get very frustrating. People your own age or even younger look down on you and feel superior to you because they think they are far ahead of you in age when actually they are not. (Dear young readers, I am not implying that your opinions are worth less than older people’s. Please don’t write me nasty comments.)
Now, let’s go back in time a little. When I was younger, I always looked older than I was. I was the one that was chosen to buy alcohol and cigarettes before we were old enough. And I was never, ever carded! So, this must mean that over the years I have gone backwards in the ageing process. Because now I get carded for everything I try to buy. Here is a conversation I had at a gas station about three years ago (at age 29), when I was trying to buy cigarettes (No, I don’t smoke anymore, I quit when I first got pregnant, so please don’t write comments about this, either…):
Sales lady: “I’m going to have to see your ID for those”
Me: “Do you think I’m under 18???”
Sales lady: “Honestly, yes.”
I hand her my ID. She stares at it for a while.
Sales lady: “Well, I wasn’t expecting THAT. You look like a teenager!”
Hm… I guess I just don’t quite understand. I see teenagers around all over the place and to be honest, I don’t think I look anything like them. Not my clothes, my hair, anything. If I was a teenager I wouldn’t be a very hip one…
I had to take my son to the hospital for an ultrasound of his hips- standard procedure for breech babies, I was told. I’m having a rather pleasant conversation with the registration lady, when we talk about what line of work my husband is in. I tell her that he’s in the Army, but that he won’t be for too much longer, about another 1 ½ years. She looks concerned and says: “Oh, so he doesn’t want to retire?” I say: “That is him retiring.” She looks concerned again: “But he’s not doing the whole time?” I’m starting to get what she’s confused about: “That is him retiring after the whole time, twenty years.” So, instead of getting the hint and realizing that I’m older than she thought (we had already established the fact that I have two children), she asks: “So, is your husband much older than you, then?” I guess this is quite a rude question, but at the time I just responded: “Well, he’s five years older- not really too much.” And now she’s shocked. You can see the wheels spinning in her head, trying to do the math on my age. Ready for the finale? I ask: “How old did you think I am?” And she replies: “Well, I would have thought you were 21. But only because you have two children.”
What doesn’t help is that my husband also looks young. I never really thought about it until my friend mentioned that we looked like a teenage couple walking around together. I don’t get it because my husband has grey hair, but who knows…
The point I’m trying to make here: My husband and I don’t go out to a restaurant with our two children and order one beer for him because we’re trying to get drunk and party. If I am at the store with my two kids buying a six pack of Gluten free beer and you (about 18 years old) card me, you’re being ridiculous! What do you think I am about to do? Go home with my two children under two and get wasted by myself on a six pack of weird sorghum beer? Sell me the damn booze, already!!!!!