parens binubus

more than you want to know about a law school graduate/bar examinee who is also raising two children and doing her best at being a partner to her love.

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  • Tuesday, February 27, 2007
    It really doesn't feel like a compliment
    I was walking home with the girls today, and as we passed our Town Library, I saw a woman who I had never formally met, but had dealings with around a school (kids) event she coordinated. I had done a wee bit of volunteer work, and then turned her down on doing more, since the end of the co-op was nearing and I was quite overwhelmed.

    She looked at me and did a slight double-take, but didn't say anything. I walked by before I put all the pieces together, and turned around to introduce myself:

    Me: Hi, you're _____, right?
    Her: You're Zuska?
    Me: Yes, I am [I shake her hand], nice to meet you.
    Her: I was going to say something as you walked by, and I thought to myself, "boy, she sure looks like those kids," but you looked so young, I figured you were just the babysitter. You look so young!"
    Me: No, they're definitely mine.
    Both of us: blah blah blah blah.

    Really, I get this all the time. Over this past co-op, I worked with a woman who's been practicing since 1998, and I knew that meant she was approximately my age. I had talked to her briefly a few times, where it came out that I had children, and how old they are. MUCH later, as we were forced to spend some idle time together, it came out (to her) that we both graduated high school in 1990. Then came the usual, "oh! you're my age! I was wondering how you had a 10 year old, but I figured it wasn't any of my business!"

    If I had E. when I was a teenager, and then had J. when I was a teenager, and somehow still went to college and law school, I would be damned proud of myself. So I think that if people are making that assumption, it shouldn't bother me - if that were me, I would be an impressive person.

    But it isn't me.

    According to the standards of the legal world, I was young when I had E. I was 24. Most (not all) female attorneys graduated law school when they were 24. They weren't poppin' out the little ones. So to them, even 24 is young to have kids. Same thing in my town. It is populated by professors and doctors and judges and lawyers and executives and artists and other people with successful careers (or else they couldn't afford to live here .... like me). They, for the most part, didn't have their babies at 24. More like 34, if not 44.

    But I'm not too young to be a mother to my kids. I'm not as young as a babysitter. The problem is, I look young for my age, and since my age is already a wee young, I end up looking way young.

    I may end up dying my hair GREY. Just so people can stop assuming I'm the babysitter.

    I think it's rude for people to assume anything, and especially rude for them to carry on about how young I look and how they thought I was the babysitter -- I often feel like it's laced with judgment. I don't know the people who make these comments. Once I introduce myself, and I shake your hand, and you know I'm their mom, why do you have to go back and comment on your previous assumptions?

    At school (mine), I know that people assume I'm their age. And their eyes do pop out of their heads when I say I have a 10 year old. In that setting, I don't mind just saying, "I'm 34" as I see them try to process the information. They then exhibit obvious relief - the tension just drains out of their faces and shoulders. And then I get to spend all my time feeling old.

    Really, I just can't win. I'm too young in one place, too old in the other.


    posted by Zuska @ 12:43 AM  
    • At Tuesday, February 27, 2007 2:58:00 PM, Blogger LawSchoolMom said…

      What bothers me the most about living where I do, which has a HUGE population of older parents (40+) with kids the same age as mine, is that I cannot find people my age with whom I can be friends!

      Other (older) women don't seem to like that I had my children young (I just turned 31 and my oldest will be 11 in June). They make off-hand comments like "I guess at your age, I was working on my career."

      I usually quip back "I chose to be a young parent so that I could really enjoy this time with my children and also not have the worries or financial burden that come with assisted reproduction (which so many of them have had)." True? Yes. Catty? Absolutely.

    • At Tuesday, February 27, 2007 4:32:00 PM, Blogger Zuska said…

      I think I have worked past that side effect of being young. I get made fun of for my age, but when I'm with friends, I don't mind. My partner, I mean, my husband, is 11 years older than me, and sometimes, we sandwich the people we hang out with - he's the oldest, and I'm the youngest.

      I've also long been a person who relates to people older than me better than people my own age, so it isn't too hard.

      In my bookgroup, there are a couple of women who were born in 1952 who have kids the same age as my older daughter. My mom was born in 1950.

      It's just the initial comments from people I don't know that bother me.

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