I had a Peter Pan moment over the weekend with former colleagues in town on business. We met for drinks at a hip and lively boutique hotel bar in San Francisco. The first woman to arrive was a friend I don’t get to see often enough due to distance. She always seems the same to me and laughs as easily as when we first met in 1988. (You have to imagine two 20-somethings in dress-for-success suits complete with loopy bow ties that were all the rage then.) The second woman, who was late arriving, fit more in the acquaintance category. I saw her in occasional staff meetings — the last time 12 years ago.
Engaged in reminiscing with my friend I looked up briefly to see a woman enter the bar across the room. She looked quite honestly like a well-coiffed older mom in search of her PTA pals. I smiled at the characterization and was ready to trade more memories when this very same woman waved in recognition to my friend and came over to join us.
Startled I wondered if others in the room would have pegged us as contemporaries. And then she dropped a bombshell. She casually mentioned that her oldest was now 19 years old. Talk about a reality check. My jaw dropped in disbelief. 19?! Tough as it was for me to comprehend on the spot, I’m now at an age where my peers can have children 19 years old while others still are getting pregnant or have kids in diapers or preschool. Now that’s range. And it’s also why infertility is something I find so hard to leave behind.
Complicating matters further in my mind’s eye I’m still, oh, 32. I possess the same the freedom l had in my 20s to grab drinks with friends at a bar any night I choose. No baths or homework to oversee.
This lack of structured routine over the years has fooled me into thinking I’m younger than I am. In one very real sense I have never officially “grown up.”
It’s not altogether a bad thing. Spontaneity returned in force when our infertility treatments ended. I’ve come to relish the freedom to come and go as I please.
Since two of the three of us around the table were not moms, our conversation moved quickly (and, I will admit with a bit of guilty pleasure, thankfully) to non-mom topics. We laughed as carefree as if we were all still 20-somethings.
It wasn’t until I looked in the mirror upon turning in for the night that I came to appreciate that gravity doesn’t discriminate between moms and non-moms. I did my bit to combat the effects applying an extreme helping of anti-wrinkle and firming cream to my face and neck. I’m guessing I’m not the only woman who doesn’t want to be mistaken for a PTA officer.
P.S. Thanks to everyone who left sweet comments and blogiversary wishes. Each one brought a big smile.
February 10, 2008 9:33 pm
I graduated early, worked early, and was always the youngest one in whatever group I was in.
This changed sometime…I don’t know when. Now I tend to be the oldest.
If I hang out with my contemporaries, they are having teen or empty-nest issues.
If my children hang out with their contemporaries, the grown ups with them don’t know about the loopy bow-ties and pre-cell phone/internet days.
Is it all right with you if I envy your spontaneity?
How I would love to have a drink with you, my peer. Ooh! I just remembered that I may come to San Fran in July…
February 11, 2008 1:06 am
There is such a silver lining to being child-free. We’re still doing the IF treatments, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I enjoy my lazy Saturdays and the ability to eat in peace. 🙂
February 11, 2008 2:34 am
I enjoy a lazy morning here and there myself!
February 11, 2008 3:32 am
isn’t it strange to see the range among your peers? it’s nice that you got to discuss non-mom topics too… here’s to the freedom to have a lazy sunday or whatever you feel whenever you feel like it. ~luna
February 11, 2008 6:58 am
Glad to hear you are enjoying your freedom. Sometimes I feel like I’m just as young as my sister (who is six years younger) because I’m pretty much do the same things she does. In a lot of ways, we didn’t have to grow up. All my friends have responsibilities and sometimes I have to admit, it is nice to do and go as we please. Just the other night, Dh decided last minute to go to a trendy part of town and have a nice dinner and we told ourselves, lets savour these moments and be thankful we can do this… 🙂
February 11, 2008 7:37 am
Everyone gets stuffed into this narrow age bracket at school, then as life progresses the milestones become so much less regimented. Then you meet someone your age again, and instead of “oh yeah, I’ve just finished grade eight, too” the differences are just vast. But there’s more to it all than baths or homework. I bet she still thinks of herself as 32 as well.
February 11, 2008 1:43 pm
I know just what you mean about the age range. I have a friend with a son at Uni and others (same age) with 1 year olds. It’s mad.
I also think we’re able to hang onto feeling young as we do have all that freedom to do as we please and no ties – not that I wouldn’t give all that up in a n instant if I was lucky enough to succeed at this TTC game
Glad you can meet with the moms and still chat about other stuff. x
February 11, 2008 5:46 pm
It is interesting to think about how women of similar ages can be at very different stages in their lives. While I’m in my mid-thirties and struggling to start a family, I have a dear friend who just became a grandmother at the age of 42!
And thank you for reminding me about the more positive aspects to not having children – here’s to spontaneous fun and long lie ins!
February 11, 2008 6:03 pm
I have a friend who has an 11 year-old and a 6 year-old who I always thought of as older than me. At her last birthday, I found out she is actually one year younger!
February 11, 2008 6:03 pm
Join the club. ; ) I too have friends/relatives not much younger than myself who have babies, & others with kids in university, or who are dealing with teenagers. Not sure which I find most disconcerting!! Meanwhile, I only feel a few years removed from university myself. ; ) Without kids around as markers, I think it’s easier to ignore the passage of time. Glad it was a nice evening for you, aside from the initial shock…!
February 11, 2008 7:37 pm
Yep, I’m in the club,too. I know women who have university aged kids and those who just had a child recently. However, the majority of my friends are younger than me, but due to the fact of my youthful appearance and my actor lifestyle, I fit in quite nicely. In secret, I count my grey hairs and frantically pluck out chin hair.
February 11, 2008 8:05 pm
It is bizarre when I meet with my ‘girlfriends’ (I have never looked my age- something I used to totally regret- now I love- because being childfree- not by choice-) I am doing things that I would never have done in my 20’s- people have no idea that I am 32- my friends that have kids are in their 20’s-It really is nice to be able to do things on a whim with my husband and not have to worry about finding a babysitter- don’t get me wrong- I would love to have to work around a child’s schedule- but I am learning to come to terms with my new life- all of you in this wonderful community have definitely helped me in doing that and keep my sanity at the same time!
February 11, 2008 11:07 pm
Ah, yes. I have a nephew who is 18, my younger sister has a four-year-old, and two of my almost-old-enough-to-be-my-dad uncles have suddenly sprouted babies. There is no pre-set age to do anything any more. It does weird me the heck out.
On the plus side, I have a day off work tomorrow, and I shall be spending the morning studying in bed. It’ll be lovely. And perfectly silent. And I will enjoy it, damn it.
February 13, 2008 1:55 am
It is so interesting about age and timing. When I had my son (now almost 8) I was the youngest in the prenatal class (I was 27). Now I’m in my mid-30s and my peer group is rushing to have babies and I’m infertile. I secretly do enjoy having more and more personal space as he gets older while my peers are lamenting the night-feeds.
Sending positive vibes
February 14, 2008 7:45 am
It freaks me out to realise that many of my colleagues from school have twelve year olds. I mean, really??
March 5, 2008 4:17 am
“I possess the same the freedom l had in my 20s to grab drinks with friends at a bar any night I choose. No baths or homework to oversee. This lack of structured routine over the years has fooled me into thinking I’m younger than I am. In one very real sense I have never officially “grown up.” “
I have this. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve got a bad case of the “the grass is greener” and maybe don’t even realize how freaking lucky I am. Sometimes when my sister’s kids go home and I’m so glad to have the quite and my laptop and a glass of wine, I wonder if I *really* want kids after all. I dunno what I’m trying to say, except that bit of text struck a chord with me. Loudly.