“My Mom used to bring me shopping for all the free samples, too.”
-Random deli guy who I’m apparently old enough to have birthed.
Sometimes, when you’re a 37 year old mother of three, you forget that you’re a 37 year old mother of three. I think this is a survival mechanism of some kind, much like the urge to strip when you think you might have a spider in your clothes.
Today, this happened briefly to me at the deli counter. The forgetting part… not the spider based stripping. The deli guy was all smiles and winks, and I became a little bit flustered when I asked for a pound of honey ham. I instinctively smoothed my unwashed hair (with the hand that wasn’t half restraining Ben, who was practicing his kung-fu moves against the glass case) and said something witty and banter-like. The conversation went back and forth a bit, at which point our attention was drawn to my other two children, who were running amok in the produce section screaming about free cake samples, and “BEST DAY EVER.” I was then that he told me that he remembered grocery shopping for the joy of free samples as well, with his mom.
I grabbed my ham and slumped away, feeling vaguely guilty for (poorly) half-flirting with someone who was clearly just out of diapers and could have been a product of a (non-existent) teen pregnancy of mine.
I’m not sure how I got to be this old. Do you ever have those moments when you are quite sure that you’re living someone else’s life? When you look around yourself and think, “HOLY SHIT! Where did all these kids and these throw pillows and these gray hairs come from?!! And WHY are my legs so hairy?!?!”
I have a picture of one of my Dad’s birthday parties from when I was little. We’re all standing around him, and he’s blowing out the candles. This picture is especially strange, because it captures a very specific expression on my face that went with a very specific thought, that I remember very distinctly having at that moment. The thought was that it must feel really weird to get “old”.
This is especially rich, because I think the picture is from my Dad’s 35th birthday.
There are so many things I’d like to be able to tell that little girl with the strange look, peering over the candles at her Daddy… I’d like to tell her that 35 ain’t old. I also want to tell her that it’s OK that she’s not allowed to play with barbie dolls, that her Mom is actually on to something there. I want her to know that upstairs, in her bedroom with the circus wallpaper and bunk beds, is the closest she’ll ever be to truly SAFE, and that she should snuggle under her blankets and be happy for her early bedtime and lack of worries. I’d like to tell her to SLOW DOWN. I’d like to tell her that before she knows it, she could very well be 37 and at a deli counter with dirty hair and lots of children.
It’s funny… these are also the things I’d like to say to Madeline, who’s about the age I was in the picture, if only I thought it would make a difference.
Especially the part about the barbie dolls.