Sunday, February 16, 2014

Yes Ma'am

The kids were buckled into their seats, the groceries stacked precariously in the trunk and as I turned to push the cart into a stall the cart-gatherer-guy stopped me. "I will take that for you ma'am."

"Oh! How nice! Wait, did you just call me Ma'am?" Cringing visibly, "Oh dear! Please don't call me ma'am, but really, thank you very much! Have a good day!"

I walked to the front of my uber cool minivan with a chagrined chuckle. Did he really call me Ma'am? Psssh. Ma'am? Ouch! Did I really ask him not to.  . .out loud?

As I buckled my seat belt (safety first!) the memory slapped me upside the head. I was in my very early 20s and I was working (insert any fast food joint or other mode of menial employment) and I made the mistake of saying "have a nice day, Ma'am." The clearly ancient woman standing in front of me blanched. "Ma'am? Surely you did not just call me Ma'am!?!?" She laughed incredulously, adopting a valley- girlesque posture. This clearly did not help her cause.

I apologized and visibly blushed whilst internally I rolled my eyes thinking "Ha! Who does she think she's kidding?" She seemed nice enough but I was embarrassed for her and vowed not to be her in the future. I would not cling to the illusion of youth when I was clearly past my prime. Oh the logic of a young adult, ever so wise and compassionate. When you are young you cannot imagine being anything but young and vibrant. The folly of youth. 

And now. . .I. AM. THAT. WOMAN.

Yes, Ma'am.

He called me Ma'am...rightly so. So why does that instantly fill me with embarrassment? I had my 20s. I didnt just survive my 20s, I embraced them and I have no regrets. I filled those years to bursting with incredible memories and experiences. To be honest, my 20s lasted well into my 30s. Looking back at all the fun, I can recognize it for what it was: self-focused, frivolous and fun. I had no concerns. Little resposibility. Nothing that mattered more to me than searching for my next adventure. Why is it that youth is so coveted? Youth rarely recognizes the joys that can come with responsibility. The growth and beauty that can only come from sacrificial love. Youth can be so blind.

To that cart-boy....I am sorry. You did not misspeak. Honestly, I doubt that I looked in the mirror before I ran to Costco with the boys. They had clothing on AND I had showered....which was my biggest success that day.  If I remember correctly, I was wearing yoga pants though I have obviously not done yoga in ages. My hair was almost, kind of pulled back, I had minimal if any makeup on....all of which highlighted the signs of exhaustion and age. Costco was getting the best of me that day for sure. But, c'mon...I survived Costco with all three of my boys. You cannot do that AND look awesome. I challenge any 20 year old to brave Costco with my boys.

Moving on.

I look in the mirror today and I see new gray hairs. Wrinkles. Zits (from consuming an entire bag of chocolate chips the other night. . .) Dark circles under my eyes. I see my age. I cannot deny it. It is not pretty and yet it is beautiful at the same time. The general public may not understand or appreciate it but  I know I look this way because there are 4 people in my life, every day that mean SO much more to me than my appearance. I often end up looking wasted, harried and barely thrown together because my energy and focus is not on me. It is on them. Almost all of my time. This is not an excuse, I am sure I could find time (and do for special occasions) to make sure I look presentable. I do not mind that my priorities are different from the norm. This is who I am. I am a Mama. I am a Ma'am.

My days can be so draining that by 4 o'clock I am begging for bed time. After tucking my sweeties in I want nothing more than to put my feet up and rest with a heat pad on my back. A nice glass of wine in hand and lose myself in some silly romance on TV; but only if I still get to go to sleep before 930. (It is 10 pm right now and I am eager to get myself off to bed.) I cannot fathom getting all done-up to hit a club at this hour.  I wouldn't mind going to a movie but I would want to do that in my jammies. I have nothing to prove; I simply want to enjoy my downtime in comfort.

The days of living for nights out and rowdy, empty entertainment are behind me and as fun as those frivolous years were....I am relieved that those years are behind me. Throwing on a pair of yoga pants instead of searching for my nice jeans so that I can scoop up Mr Pookie just a little faster is totally worth it. Spending my time on the floor to teach him how to crawl instead of using that time to put on make up. . .or blow dry my hair. . .well that is a no-brainer. It is far more fun to shop for them than for me. I know that there are ladies out there that can do it all AND still look wonderfully put together. More power to them, sadly, that is not me. At all.

Loud, rowdy, busy. My 20s summed up in 3 words....well that just doesnt sound fun to me anymore. How I appreciate a nice glass of wine now. A moment of silence.  A night of sleep. A moment to read a book. Being able to use the bathroom all by myself. The heft of a sleeping baby in my arms. The joy of getting to shower before noon. All the ugly and difficult ways motherhood is making me a better person. I am finding that sometimes taking care of those you love the most is the best self-care you can employ. It may not feel great all the time, but it will refine and redefine who you are, what you want and how you see the world.

Yes, I am not 20 anymore. Duh. The wrinkles, bags, and signs of exhaustion have been earned. Why should that cause embarrassment? They may not be pretty but they are the hallmarks of my motherhood and should be celebrated. I have reached that season of life where others are more important to me than I ever could have imagined. Why society discounts that, instead proclaiming self-indulgent, self focused youth to be the end all.....befuddles me. So what! I am aging! That does not define who I am, but is simply a fact of life. My life is so full of experiences, laughter and love that leaving youth behind should not be done with chagrin. SHOULD NOT be viewed with embarrassment.

Embrace it.

Own it.

Flaunt it if you want to.

And for Pete's sake. Call me Ma'am!

1 comment:

  1. Amen. Ma'am. From a ma'am (I've literally never typed that word! Sigh)