Saturday, September 22, 2007

How Old Are You Now?

Lately I find that I have to pause and think when someone asks me the dreaded (and tacky?) question, "So...how old are you?".

I had always assumed that this subject was off limits in casual conversation. Right up there with politics and religion.

Apparently I was wrong.

Since we moved to our new house, countless (ok, maybe not really countless, but many) new neighbors have inquired about my age. The first time it happened I was not only taken aback by the actual question, but also by how to answer it. Because the first number that comes to mind is always 27.

Unfortunately, I am not 27.

Yet it takes some degree of restraint to not blurt out this knee jerk response. Instead I pause, do some quick math, and slowly respond with a "36" as I shake my head in disbelief.

I believe everyone has a mental age and a physical age. And wouldn't it be nice if we were allowed to go by our mental age when faced with the 'how old are you' question? Because that number seems to be more accurate. More sensible.

Who cares what the calendar says. What age do you feel? Older? Younger? Right on target?

My mental age is clearly 27.
I am single. Living alone in a city apartment for the first time. Driving a new car. Enjoying cocktails after work. Staying out late and not feeling it the next day (amazing how our bodies change). I have money to blow on lattes and beer and clothes. I have an amazing boyfriend (who will later become my husband) and we have a close circle of friends. I have responsibilities, but not too many. I am comfortable here.

My physical age is 36.
I have been married for 8 years. I live in a 4 bedroom home in a quiet neighborhood. I have 2 kids. I stay at home with them. We watch our money. We save for retirement and college funds. We invest. We eat most meals at home. Going out involves the hassle of finding (and paying for) a babysitter. I have responsibilities. A lot of them. I'm happy. And if it weren't for the furrows on my brow, I'd swear I was still in my twenties.

When someone asks me how old I am all of these discrepancies race through my head. I experience a Talking Heads 'well, how did I get here' moment. Damn, I don't even feel like I hit my 30's yet, but here I am. Where did the time go?

I may be a mom of two, but inside is a 27 year old who hasn't spent one second worrying about wrinkles...

What's your mental age?

11 comments:

Alex Elliot said...

I can't think of the last time someone asked me my age, but I think that's because there's the assumption that I'm the same age they are because we are at similar points in our lives. When I was pregnant with my first, I was doing a post-BA program and students oblivious to my wedding band assumed I was a 19 year old pregnant single woman. Everyone I was around was 19 and unmarried. Yet just a few months later when I joined my moms group everyone assumed I was in my mid-30's because that's how old most of them were. In reality I was 27. I like to joke that my mental age is 29 because it seems like whenever someone asks my elderly relatives their age, they always say 29.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

My mental age is somewhere around 29. That was when I met my now-husband and could see myself as 'settling down'. When I drink too much, though, I'm more like 25.

I used to forget my real age all the time, but now that I just hit 40, I never forget. Damn.

Mrs Big Dubya said...

I like 27 too......

Getting older sucks.....

Elizabeth said...

So glad it's not just me. Someone asked me how old I was at the playground the other day and without thinking I answered 32. Then paused, and said Wait...make that 37 LOL... I think the other Mom thought I was nuts :)

Amy Linder said...

That's so funny. Ever since I hit 30 a few years ago, I cannot easily recall how old I am when asked. Is it an over 30 thing? Is it a "too many other Mom Things in my head to remember that" thing? Or what?

Gift of Green said...

Hard to believe that I am much closer to forty than thirty...

cape buffalo said...

I loved 29. I was a new mom who, thanks to nursing and being too busy to eat, hit the same weight I was on my wedding day 5 years earlier. I had a job I loved and lived in a great community.

Now that baby is almost as tall as I am, we live in the dreaded western suburbs, I have a job I don't love but that I keep because it pays more.

I wouldn't mind being 29 for a few days.

Miguelina. said...

27! My mental age is 27!

I was engaged, employed and thought nothing of spending a small fortune on a pair of glittery shoes.

Forever 27!

Manic Mommy said...

When I was 27, I had met my husband, was driving my first NEW car, had my own apartment, and was making decent money. It was then that I was surprised that people in the working world were taking me seriously.

Now I'm 39 (just), contemplating a third child, and Googling "pregnancy at 40". Talk about a Talking Heads moment - how the hell did I get HERE?

Whirlwind said...

I must be losing my mind a little younger than you guys. I usually have to stop and think how old I am.

And since everyone wants to be around 27, that just fits in with what Alex said about assuming your the same age as everyone around you. I don't mind you being the same age as me. Really, I don't.

In my case, I usually have to assume most people are older. I'm the youngest mom of well, what appears to be both Meenie and Einey's classmates, the youngest soccer mom for their teams (but certainly not the league). But it's okay, I don't mind being young.

Tricia said...

I am 31. I don't mind when people ask. I hope that is the case at any age. I have literally had moments when I almost answered 18. I don't FEEL 18, but that answers has almost come out. I feel about 31 right now. It's not so bad, but it could be better. I ought to aim for 27. My mercurial year.