Once again I have been reminded of a strange phenomenon which could, quite possibly, apply only to myself. But I'm not sure.
It's about being "adult." My late mother was an adult, the whole time I knew her. My father was, too, as were all of the grown-up relatives. They looked like adults and behaved like adults and thought like adults. They were responsible and serious and old.
Now, in certain ways, I am adult. I have the right age, for example. If age is the sole criterion, then I qualify, in spades.
When my best friend from college "partied up a storm" with me a few years ago, we revelled in the fact that we seemed so much more youthful than most of our agemates. She informed me in no uncertain terms that it was because we didn't have kids. We both swore up and down that we'd NEVER have 'em.
She stuck to her oath; I am now a single parent of a 2nd grader. According to my friend's theory, I ought to be a mature adult now, probably extra mature because I'm a single parent, right?
Well, wrong. I did the math and figured out how old I was when my mother was the age I am now. I remember my perception of her then. She was an adult, bigtime. She knew how to think and behave. If she had any immature leanings, she kept them well repressed. She was serious, she was sensible, she was disciplined, she was regular. She was never out of control. She was adult.
Let's start with appearance. I look disheveled. She looked prim and proper, even on days off. Her hair was neatly cut in a matronly style which was professionally fussed with once a week at the beauty parlor.
A female adult is expected to maintain a certain level of household order. My mother did, but she cheated. She had her own mother cleaning that house on a daily basis. I have the opposite: I have a male child and a Chihuahua wreaking havoc on a daily basis. The house is a constant wreck.
My mother, the adult, prepared dinner, served at 5pm sharp every day. It was a sensible meal, damnit, even if it was often nausea-inspiring. It featured meat, two vegetables, and desert if you earned it. You can guess at Betty's cooking habits. I'll whip up the amaranth if the child starts clamoring for food. If he won't eat it, he's welcome to forage. I like to sit by the window, reading, eating dry cereal out of the box. My mother's probably rolling.
But yesterday I noticed my thoughts (something I rarely do). My mind resembled that of an adolescent who is just starting to figure out how to fit into society. I was thinking, "Boy, she doesn't like me. She probably thinks I'm a loser, not worthy of her attention. I wonder what they said about me after I left the room? I wonder why she doesn't like me? Did I do a bad thing by leaving early, without a reasonable explanation? Will they shun me now? Where do I really fit in? Anywhere?"
My mother got over all that when she was in high school, or middle school, even. By the time she was my age, she was self-assured, knowing her place, accepting it, and playing her role obediently.
When I examine my mind, it truthfully doesn't seem different from when I was a teen. I am just as unsure now of where I fit in socially. Speculating, I can only guess that it's a result of living a fairly isolated life, devoid of family, away from home turf, relying on whichever friends will tolerate me at the time.