Friday, September 23, 2011

Young at Heart, And In the Face Too, Apparently.

Yesterday I was walking through the grocery store, pushing Aiden in a cart and just wandering through the produce aisle looking for garlic when a woman threw out her arm and stopped me.
"I just HAVE to ask: is he your son or your brother?". When I told her that yes, in fact, this was my child, she stared at me and said "But you look so young! I mean, you look really young, like you could be fourteen!".
I wasn't exactly sure how to respond to this so I kind of laughed and she hurriedly assured me that this was a good thing and blah blah blah. I'm sorry, someone assuming you're a 14 year old mother is not a compliment. I realize I look young, uh, because I am young, but fourteen is pushing it.
My friend Tierney has the same problem of being mistaken for younger than she is and I'll chalk some of it up to the fact that we're both short. Real short. It's just made even more awkward when you're with your child and people are giving you the sideways glance and trying to calculate in their heads.

Another time I was at a store and the cashier said "You look way too young to be a mom!" and I smiled and said "Yeah, I am too young" and just left it at that. I think the whole "you look so young!" business would be more flattering if I were 30 or 35 and looked especially young but being 23 and looking 23 (or 16 depending on the day) just feels uncomfortable.

I get this sentiment pretty frequently. No one has any qualms about commenting on my perceived age which seems so odd to me. Again, I assume it's supposed to be a compliment but it's still awkward to comment on a stranger's age or looks right? Am I being too sensitive?

The funny thing is that this has only ever happened to me here in the Northeast. When we lived in Charleston, South Caroline (a city with a lot of military families), a lot of the other moms were in their early to mid-twenties so I was completely normal. I never felt out of place or like I was considerably younger than anyone. It's a definitely a cultural thing since the average age of first time moms is still 25, not crazy far off from where I was.

Anyway, I guess I should learn to just smile and say 'thanks' but I do hope people will stop acting so flabbergasted that I have a child if we have another one!

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