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This is my home-game entry this week for therealljidol. I am not competing this season but invite you to read and vote for the many fine entries. This week there are several topics, so I might not write about all of them. This is for the topic "Get Over Yourself."

Cake Touching
Me and KFP on his first birthday a few weeks ago

Why is it that on the days when I'm sleep-deprived and headachey, someone manages to say something rude and/or painful to me? This happened on Saturday. Our Kung Fu Panda hadn't taken a nap all afternoon and was one tired, cranky toddler. Since it was a pleasant, warm evening, I loaded him into his new stroller and took him for a trek around the neighborhood. I figured the twilight stroll would calm him down and, if I was lucky, start him nodding.

Instead, I encountered a woman walking her white bull dog. She recognized me, although I recognized neither her nor her dog. "A baby instead of a dog this time?" she asked me. I winced and told her that Una, my beloved nurse dog, died in October of liver cancer. She seemed sympathetic but then poured salt in my proverbial wounds: "So, is this your grandbaby?"

I took a breath and calmly told her, "This is my son."

She hardly seemed fazed and didn't even apologize for the question, unlike the drunk guy in a restaurant who, on Memorial Day, had asked The Gryphon and I if KFP was our grandchild. At the time I thought it was because of The Gryphon's hair, which started turning gray when he was in his 20s. This time, I had no such excuse.

This simple remark ruined the walk for me, and somehow, ruined it for KFP, as well. He'd been happy up until then, but half a block after that remark, he started crying so miserably I had to unstrap him and carry him in my arms for a while. I suppose he sensed my irritation.

Like my late Una, he is a sensitive little guy. When I had a migraine yesterday and was convalescing on the couch, I put "Sesame Street" on for him. Instead of doing what he normally does, and alternating between watching the screen and playing with toys, he watched it while standing right next to me, one chubby hand wrapped in my own. Somehow, he knew.

But at that particular moment, I was completely unaware that my son might be upset because Mommy was upset. I just kept thinking: "Why did she say that? Was it because of the flowered capri pants I wore while my khaki and olive capri pants were drying? Was it the bags under my eyes from being sleep-deprived? The 30 pounds of pregnancy weight I'm still struggling to lose? Did I really look like... a grandma?"

When I got home, The Gryphon tried to make me feel better. He told me that, while when I think of a grandma, I think of my own 67-year-old mother, there are, indeed, grandmothers who are only 40 years old. If, for example, I'd married my high-school sweetheart right after graduating, like many of my classmates did, and if my child had done the same, I could easily be a grandma. In other words, just because she assumed I was the grandmother didn't mean I looked any older than I actually was.

I expected some negativity resulting from my being an older mom, but I didn't expect it quite so soon. Perhaps KFP's classmates would laugh at the parents with the gray hair, I thought. I didn't expect assumptions from random neighbors.

Times like these, I wish I could get advice from my grandmothers, who had my mom and dad when they were each 40. Sadly, though, they both passed away long ago. I'm sure, if they could tell me, they'd share many similar stories. Especially my paternal grandmother, who was also a single mom, since my paternal grandfather died while she was pregnant. An older, single mom in the '40s? She must have heard rude comments daily.

A few days later, I'm feeling better. I bought a couple new shirts that look less matronly and more like the fashion-forward shirts I wore before I gained weight. I used an over-the-counter facial peel that I haven't used since getting pregnant, which was like a mini-facial. Instead of staying up to watch a show on the DVR after finishing my transcription work, last night I went to sleep and caught some extra Z's. This morning, when I looked in the mirror, I thought the woman looking back looked a little younger.

Really, though, that's the least important thing, isn't it? In the past year, nothing has mattered more to me than taking good care of my sweet little KFP. I've let a lot of things go, and yet I'm constantly aware of it, wishing I had my body back or my energy. But as I type this, KFP is sleeping in my lap. Occasionally, he reaches a hand up to tangle his fingers in my hair, which always seems to comfort him.

Just another reminder that, while I should never forget to do things for myself, I'm no longer at the top of my priorities.

There are certain questions you probably shouldn't ask.

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 28th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
We all look old when we have a toddler in the house! I've long since learnt not to make assumptions about who someone is. When more and more women are having their babies later, you just don't know. Besides, I wouldn't say that you *do* look old enough to be a grandmother, even if technically you could be if you'd started early enough. Heck, by that standard, so could I!
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:07 pm (UTC)
So true about having a toddler in the house! Even on my best days, I'm running at a deficit. I think "Is that your grandbaby" is a question that should be avoided as carefully as "Are you pregnant?" A lot of women carry their weight in their abdomen, especially after they've had children, and it would be easy to offend somebody.
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC)
I STILL look like I have a pregnancy belly! I know it took me longer to lose weight after my first son than the girls but I'm really not liking it now almost a year on.
Jul. 2nd, 2011 01:50 am (UTC)
*hugs* I'm trying the "Eat All Day Diet" where you eat six small meals throughout the day. It says that one benefit of it is to help melt away tummy fat. If I have success with it, I'll let you know. Definitely sympathize, though, with your feelings.
Jul. 2nd, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
There is no way I could remember to eat six times a day! To be honest, I know exactly what the problem is and until I stop breastfeeding, I'm not going to beat myself up about it because you always retain a bit more weight until you stop. I'm probably about the right weight for my age and life stage, I just would like to be a little more toned, which means plain old exercise. Right now I feel like belly dancing would probably be the best thing!
Jul. 2nd, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
I agree; breast-feeding probably has a lot to do with it. Already, now that KFP is self-weening, though I haven't lost a lot according to the scale, my shirts are getting looser all over.

Exercise is always a plus, if you can manage it. Playing with the kids counts!
Jul. 2nd, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
I think it might have been redleather26 who recently commented on how strong I am when I picked up my 2.5 year old with one arm. I'm very used to having Felix in the sling and her in my arms and it's not unknown for the almost five year old to be in the other arm, although to be fair, she is very small for her age. Who needs gyms when you have young children???
Jul. 2nd, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
My sister-in-law used to call my nephew her "little trainer" for exactly that reason!
Jun. 28th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
I have a friend that was a grandma at 32.
It does happen.
When the smallbear was a baby and we would go places as a family; several times people assumed the smallbear belonged to our 13-year-old princessbride, and we were the grandparents.
The princessbride was highly offended by this assumption. Once she lost her temper and shouted at the checkout clerk, "just WHAT kind of girl do you think I am?"
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
That's a really funny story about princesbride! Thanks for sharing that.
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:04 pm (UTC)
My mother once told me she got comments like that when I was KFP's age. I suppose it was in part because we lived in the city, where there were comparatively few mothers of any age around...and partly because she was nearly 40 when I was born, which, back then, was unheard of unless you already had a flock of children (in the latter case, had we lived in the suburbs then, she probably wouldn't have had comments because most of her friends her age had "oops" babies around the same time I was born).
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
It must have been hard for her, especially at a time when it was less common. Almost everyone I know waited until their 30s to have their babies. There are a few exceptions among my closest friends, and many of my high school classmates had theirs earlier, too. But for some reason, the gee community seems to skew towards having them older. Maybe because they take longer to get around to finding a mate?
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
My mother was an anomaly among her friends -- everyone else married either straight out of high school or after the war (WWII), and she didn't meet my father until the early 1950s. I think they dated 3-4 years before getting married, which was also unusual. I was born 6 years afterward.

OTOH most of my female classmates from undergrad married within 2 years after graduation...some of them are grandmothers now. That still boggles my mind.

Edited at 2011-06-28 08:44 pm (UTC)
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
My mother had my baby brother at 41. I was 13 at the time and yet, people often thought he was my son before they thought he was my brother. I looked a bit older than 13, sure...

But seriously? What's wrong with the world whothinls a 13 year old would have a baby before a 40 year old?

Though my mom was a grandma at 38. My sister was also a mother much younger than usual...
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
Wow, that must have been irritating for you. I'm seeing that many people have experiences on both sides of the age spectrum. It must be equally irritating being mistaken for an older sister when you're somebody's mom.
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC)
One of my first cousins had her first daughter when she was 18. Fast forward a few years, and whenever anyone made a "sister" comment my cousin just beamed!
Jun. 28th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
Of course I know you but if I saw this photo for the first time and did not know you I would still think KFP is your son. Now I am going to have to ask my mom if she got such comments after having me. She was 33 when I was born.

The thing that always bothered me was people thinking I was older then my sister who is just shy of ten years older then me. Talk about feeling awful. I remember this as early as age ten.
Jul. 2nd, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
That must have been irritating! People sometimes thought I was younger than my sister, who's 7 years younger than me. But that was because at the time I didn't like to wear makeup and dressed somewhat young for my age.
Jun. 29th, 2011 08:16 am (UTC)
My sister had her third baby two weeks before she turned 40, and it was so very normal. My mum had me (third baby) a week before she turned 35 (in 1976), and she was considered SO OLD. I think it's totally fine to have a baby in your late 30s/early 40s and I certainly wouldn't think of asking an older parent if the child was his/her grandchild. It really is a question you shouldn't ask.

You really don't look 'old enough' (whatever that is) to be a grandmother. Actually from your picture, I don't think you look old at all. And your boy sounds just adorable - a senstive and empathetic little person. You must be doing a few things right :D
Jun. 29th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
It is true that things have changed a lot over the last 30 years. My mom was 35 when she had my younger sister, and people made rude comments about her being too old.

Thanks for the positive remarks! He has his bad days, but overall, my little guy is a sunny, pleasant person.
Jun. 29th, 2011 10:07 pm (UTC)
Okay, passing over the rude question for a second because awwww, what a special little guy indeed! :)

(Now, grrr on her! No wonder your walk was ruined. ugh.)

Like creature_girl08, I'm curious if my mother was ever asked that as well. I've seen photos and I don't think she looked old at all but she was in her late 30s. Also, my uncle was only 6 years older than her, but his youngest son is almost twenty years older than me.
Jul. 2nd, 2011 01:47 am (UTC)
Interesting. It makes you appreciate whatever previous generations went through, when there were more firm expectations about what families were supposed to look like.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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