The thought of being eligible for AARP never freaked me out. ¬†I’ve always enjoyed my age whatever it was. ¬†Then, the day that my notice for eligibility arrived coincided with my daughter’s kindergarten graduation. ¬†Okay, maybe I didn’t feel that great about it.
Yes, I’m 50. ¬†Yes, she’s graduated from kindergarten shortly after the big day. ¬†And no she’s not my granddaughter.
I was 43 when my daughter was born. ¬†Growing up and living in rural Texas, I know many women who married young and had their first child before their 20th birthday. ¬†Some of my best friends. ¬†Young mothers – not older mothers – are the norm. ¬†I am often asked if I’m her grandmother.
When she was an infant, I liked to tell myself it was because we don’t look alike. ¬†My blonde hair and blue eyes contrast with my daughter’s dark eyes and skin. When asked if I’m her grandmother, I would smile and say “No, she’s my daughter.” ¬†I would tell myself that they assumed I was her grandmother because we don’t look alike. ¬†I must have been a young mother who young daughter had a child, the storyline in my head went. ¬†We don’t look anything alike. How could they know she was adopted?
Then one day, alone at the grocery story buying diapers, the cashier asked, “Do you have grandchildren at home?” ¬†”What?” I thought. ¬†My daughter’s not even here. ¬†How could she know that we don’t look alike. ¬†Again, I said smiling, this time through teeth more gritted than usual, “No, it’s for my daughter.”
Not too long ago, my then five-year-old daughter and I were at the local drugstore. ¬†While checking out, the college-age clerk, just politely, she thought, making conversation, said, “Is this your granddaughter?” ¬†”No,” I said. ¬†”She’s my daughter.” ¬†We left now long use to the question. ¬†I didn’t think anything about it.
Three weeks later, we returned to the same store checking out with the same clerk. ¬†The young clerk said, “I’m so glad you came back. ¬†I’ve felt so bad about asking if you were her grandmother.”
I laughed. ¬†She was so sincere. ¬†I told her not to feel bad, it happens all the time. ¬†”I’m not her grandmother but I could be,” I said. ¬†As a matter of fact, I told her, just that day a friend from high school posted on her Facebook page that she was now a grandmother for the fifth time. ¬†The clerk looked shocked. ¬†That made me happy. ¬†Clearly, she thought I was old to have a grandchild but not old enough to have five grandchildren.
“I’m not but I could be” has become my new mantra. ¬†Being an older mother is a lot like puberty. ¬†It’s that awkward in-between stage. ¬†Instead of being between child and woman, I’m between mother and grandmother. ¬†I could be her mother or, truth be told, I could be her grandmother. ¬†I’ll just let them guess.
Photo Credit: Steven Depolo