Oh no! I think it's happened. I may officially be considered old . I am so not ready for this.
How could this be? Sure, I enhance my natural hair color. Who doesn't? And yeah, I have a couple of lines around the eyes but that has to be a result of the lay-off and the added stress. Can't possibly have anything to do with age!
As a kid I remember looking at my parents and teachers, and of course considered them old and out of touch. My parents were actually a bit more mature than most first-time parents when they had us, so I wasn't too far off there. But my teachers seemed ancient! Looking back, I ™m pretty sure most were in their 20's, possibly early thirties. Now that I ™m an adult I realize how young my teachers were at the time. At the time they seemed so worldly and full of experience – something that only comes with age.
In my mind, I ™m not old at all. I can keep up with the twenty-something crowd just fine. In fact, I was in an exercise boot camp with a bunch of twenty-something women not too long ago and they couldn't keep up with me. They may have been young and thin with good skin, but they were deceptively unfit. All good, until I realized that technically I could be mother to any of them. If I ™d started having kids early, I remind myself. Still, this is a heady thing to consider.
A couple recent happenings brought the reality of my age top of mind. The first time was a few weeks ago at my alma mater, when I was trying to find the entrance to the new basketball arena. Feeling every bit like a college student, I strolled up to a group of coeds and asked for directions. They seemed nice enough, until one of them called me ma ™am . I actually turned around to see who she was talking to, only to discover she meant me. I tried to brush it off, thinking that she had been raised properly and that anyone older than she was to be treated with respect. Fair enough, I thought.
Then it happened again, striking a blow of epic proportions to my ego. One of my colleagues, who happens to be part of the twenty-something crowd, started affectionately referring to me as the office mom . The first time I heard this I was almost speechless. And to tell the truth, a bit insulted. How dare anyone refer to me as mom ! That's not me; I ™m wearing the same styles as everyone else here, reading the same books, watching the same TV shows, attending the same concerts. Why did you target ME as the office mom? Are you just evil? Do you want to make me cry? Are my roots showing?
I remember staring at this colleague, trying not to show my true feelings when all I really wanted to do was shout, stomp my feet, shine a light in his eyes and question him till he cried. Maybe take away his car keys and ground him. Office mom indeed!
As he continued to talk “ which at the time I wanted to say please stop; haven't you said enough? “ I began to realize that in his mind he was paying me a compliment of the highest order. My age brings wisdom gained through experience; something that this twenty-something just doesn't have yet. I ™m asked all sorts of questions, everything from the best way to approach the boss, to how we should prepare a client presentation, to how to save money for travel. I can't tell if he's just humoring the older person or not, but I ™m taking it as a compliment that he would ask, listen and actually take my advice.
Good news is that the twenty-something crowds that I encounter through work or other events seem to enjoy my company, as well as the work experience and skills I bring to the table. And I can keep up with the conversations and trends they're discussing. Either I ™m immature or they're mature, but it works.
I guess I ™ll try to embrace my age – young enough to have fun but old enough to know when to quit. Twenty-somethings, feel free to include me in your conversations and ask me questions. Just don't call me ma ™am .