Monday, March 1, 2010

Where Have All the Young Moms Gone?

Most of the time, I don't feel like a young mom. There are plenty of women for whom the label "young mother" seems much more appropriate than it does for me. (It recently occurred to me that when my mother-in-law was my age, had a ten-year-old. If I had a ten-year-old right now? I'd probably be dead.) Statistically speaking, I'm close to average. More importantly, my internal clock says that my early late-twenties are well-spent wrangling a toddler.

And then I leave the house.

I always notice the other women with children. It's immediate. I couldn't keep from doing it if I tried. It's a reflex rather than a conscious decision. And I can't get over the wacky conclusion I always seem to come to: these women are older than I am.

It's not that the mothers I notice look older, necessarily. It's true that in certain neighborhoods, one does tend to encounter the "designer grandma," with her designer jogging suit, designer stroller, and, of course, designer grand-baby--so occasionally I do find myself wondering about the mother-vs.-grandmother status of some of the broads-with-babies out there. I suspect that, despite the trend in cities to wait longer to have children, more than a few of these women are around my age. But there's something "older" about them. Something that feels more grown-up, at least to a stranger's (my) sideways glance in the supermarket.

These "older" moms seem so much more put- and pulled-together than I am. It's superficial (and stupid) but seeing women with tiny babies looking better than I do now makes me feel like a late bloomer. When I overhear them talking at the park, they seem to have their shit figured out. Or, at least, they're better at pretending they do.

I am nowhere near having my shit figured out. I'm not even close to being able to pretend that I do (or maybe I'm just unwilling to pretend). But I feel like I have more in common with the rowdy highschoolers who get off the bus across the street from my house every afternoon at three than I do with the other parents. Of course, when I was a (not-so-rowdy) highschooler, I thought I had more in common with my teachers than I did with my peers.

So maybe it's not that I'm a clueless young mom who's still not super-comfortable in her role. Maybe instead of a late bloomer, I'm more of a backwards bloomer, rebelling against the seasons.