Last night I was out for some birthday’s eve drinks with a gal pal. I’m in my late 40s, she’s in her mid-2os. I have a few younger friends and always seem to fall into a mentor type relationship with them, giving them career advice, lending my ear on relationship worries. I enjoy hearing about their struggles and triumphs in the world — the same, and yet so much different from mine, based on being born decades apart. Though I am a nurturing person in general, I wouldn’t say I mother these young women.
So, I was surprised when my pal and I were mistaken for mother and daughter. A first it was a vanity thing, I suppose. You know, mid-life birthday sensitivity. People never tire of being shocked when they find out my age because apparently, so I’ve been told regularly, I do not look it. (Believe me, I know how old I am when I look in the mirror in the early A.M.!)
AHA, I thought, I caught the lot of them in a lie! I said as much to my friend. Her reaction was to say that she gets mistaken for older than she is, which only made me feel worse! (after all, not too long ago a corner store clerk asked me if my request to buy a transit pass was for adult or senior!!!)
I realized later the true reason why I bristled at the mistake. This innocent observer (who, by the way, was a street person who had sadly, but with savvy, set up a temporary shelter on a very cold night in the ATM vestibule of a bank), couldn’t have known that I am not a mother, and that I’m still getting square with that in my mind. Some days it’s ok, sometimes – and the passing of another year might be one of those times – it’s not.
The truth is, had I brought forth life, he or she may well have been early to mid-twenties by now. I’d be enjoying a companionship whose bond goes way beyond even the best friendship.
There’s no way my young friend, with so much promise and life in front of her, could understand this. It’s my issue and one that comes to roost for women (and probably some men) who, by choice or by circumstance, haven’t had children.
It makes me sad, but also relieved that I am not so superficial as to be worried about looking at least my age.
Thank goodness for small mercies!