Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Too Young to Have a Kid So Big

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.

3 comments:

  1. I'm 30 and have a 14 year old SS and 12 year old SD. I am the youngest parent at all their school functions and constantly get looks. I've just learned to go with it too - I'm just tired of explaining it!

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  2. So, two comments for you on this:

    I also look much younger then I am and although I am not a parent it can be very frustrating in the business world. Instead of getting the respect that I've worked so hard for, so many times I get the proverbial pat on the head as if I’m acting like a petulant child.

    On the other side of things, my parents got pregnant with me when they were in high school, got married, and then had more kids 12/13 years later. People often say stupid things like 'your mom is so young' (she's 50, I'm 32) and 'are your siblings from another dad' without thinking about it. In fact, my mom quit telling people that she has an older daughter when she was going to my sib's school activities because it was too confusing.

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  3. I also look a lot younger than I actually am. Once I graduated from College, I started teaching in the program I had completed. In my eyes, I looked about 12 years old. So I cut all my hair off. A little pixie cut. Then I spent the next two years being the hardest teacher in the program to ensure that everyone would take me seriously. I tell you. Once I relaxed and like you say, simply embraced who I was, it all went much easier.

    But I do have something to add about the explanations. I'm glad you came to the sense that you would simply appreciate the compliment and not go further. For myself, I hated the fact that I *always* required an explanation. I wrote a post about it called, Footnotes. Feel free to check it out! ( http://thegrownupchild.ca/2009/07/footnotes/ ) It's based on the fact that my footnote or explanation was something I was always carrying around. It kind of sucked.

    Cheers!

    Carolyn (the grown up child)

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