I learned a big lesson about myself last week when it comes to taking things personally. I’ve spent my entire life being mistaken as younger than I am. I used to hate it when adults would say, “you’ll appreciate it someday.” As a kid, “someday” doesn’t exist. You just want to grow up now.
And now I am grown up. I’ll be 33 in just a few short weeks and I still get mistaken for being 10 years younger. I know, I know- what a great problem to have. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy with the way I look and I’m sure I’ll continue to appreciate it “someday.”
The thing is I’m at a time in my life where I’m supposed to be somewhat of an authority. You know, look like I’ve been working for a while, act like a parent, etc. I think I’m good at my job and I do my best to be a good stepmom, but I see how some people look at me and I assume they are thinking, “she’s too young.”
As if to confirm my suspicions, a lot of people I’ve encountered lately have commented that I look too young to have a 12-year-old kid. I get stuck in this awkward, “um, thanks” while I try to explain (or not) that he’s my stepson or that I’m older than I look.
In fact, this just happened last week. My stepson and I had dentist appointments and while I was in the dentist’s chair, I heard the dental hygienist in my stepson’s room say, “his mom is right over there.”
Then the dentist came in to give me his assessment of my stepson’s teeth. The first thing he said to me was, “oh, you’re his mom? You don’t look old enough to have a son that big.”
My mind went to its usual place of “What? Are you accusing me of birthing a baby when I was in high school?” Of course, I didn’t say that. I went into my usual stuttering answer (which probably doesn’t help the whole authority figure thing).
Later when I relayed the story to my husband saying I never know how to respond in that situation, I broke out laughing. I couldn’t help it. All of a sudden when I was telling him about it, I realized I was blowing things way out of proportion. Those people are probably just trying to be nice. The appropriate response would be a simple “thank you!” That’s it. No apologies or explanations necessary.
My whole panic is really just my stuff getting in the way. And by “stuff” I mean insecurities. It really is time for me to let go of my stuff and accept these comments as compliments.