Recently, twice in one week in fact, I was asked if I’m the mom or grandma to my kiddos. I was 35 when Little J was born, so I suppose some might consider me a somewhat older mom. But not that old. I don’t color my hair and most days I wear little to no makeup. I have laugh lines around my eyes and the skin on my hands isn’t as taut as it used to be. But a grandmother? In my forties?
All my life people have exclaimed about how young my mom looks. She couldn’t possibly be old enough to have, say, a ten-year-old, and later, a daughter graduating from high school. Surely she didn’t have a son in college, a married daughter, and eventually grandchildren.
I’ll be the first to admit my mom doesn’t look her age. But not only does she look young, she has a youthful spirit. Even on her hard days she has a twinkle about her. I’ve always hoped I’d take after her in that regard.
Growing up I always saw the similarities between my mom and me. We have similar temperaments, at least in our emotional makeup. We’re the same height. People say I look like her. We enjoy many of the same things. She’s an artist after all, so perhaps I get my interest in the arts from her.
I spent so much of my youth focused our similarities that I failed to see our differences, never noticed the ways I’m like my dad. But as I’ve gotten older I see how I have his sense of humor, his practical view of the world, the desire to have decisions made and plans in place. Though I certainly look like I belong to him (and he certainly doesn’t resemble and old man), I think I look a lot more like my mom. So it’s come as a surprise to be asked twice if I’m a grandma.
The woman at the mall who asked if I was Little E’s grandma looked to be in her early thirties. Old enough to know better. But the young man who asked Big J and me if we were grandparents was maybe twenty, young enough, I suppose, to be clueless. Perhaps it’s like when I was a kid and anyone over the age of twenty-five just seemed old. When young people see me do they simply see an old person, hair peppered with gray and crow’s feet at my eyes?
I suppose I’m technically old enough to have a grandchild, had Big J and I been able to start a family right away. But I certainly hope I don’t look old enough to be my kiddos’ grandmother yet.