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?