Tomorrow I have what is now my 6th annual parent-teacher conference. My ex-husband and I will sit at student desks with their attached chairs that barely accommodate my spreading thighs and his growing gut. We might feel ashamed of our sometimes lack of organizational skills when it comes to the shuttling back and forth of our daughter and the things that get lost in the shuffle. We’re not the Poster Parents for keeping the details together ( as I write this, she has a day off for a “teacher professional day,” something they seem to have a lot of, and, well, we didn’t know this until 3-days ago and had to scramble to find someplace for her to go.) The best part, though, is that he and I are in this together and both will admit, in this arena at least, we’re not exactly “Parents of the Year.”
I have never felt as old as I did when we had our first parent teacher conference back in kindergarten. It was a rite-of-passage that blind-sided me. How the hell was I old enough to be sitting talking about the future of my (very high verbal skills, not so great in math) 5- yr. old child? I was more caught up in that than the content of the meeting. I smirked while my ex-husband engaged in the conversation. I now do everything MY parents did—I sign permission slips, quiz her on her social studies homework and vocabulary words, while I have to fob off the math homework on my husband or stepsons because as my parents would say, “I don’t understand this “new math.” I still feel occasionally strange being called “Mom.” Aren’t I too YOUNG to be someone’s “Mom?”
For me, and I will never forget this, was the epiphany that I had in college, shopping at a local supermarket with a friend, that becoming an adult was the second it occurred to me that I could actually choose my own cereal. If Fruity Pebbles ended up in my cart it was because I wanted it to. I didn’t have to argue about it with anyone. My choice. I feel bad for my daughter having to hear an endless stream of “nos” every time she unleashes the “Can I have this? Can I get this?” but she will some day experience the joy of throwing that first box of cereal made of cookies into her own cart.
As I’ve moved up in my field, I’ve also found myself in the unlikely role of being a supervisor. I EVALUATE people. I MENTOR people. When did I become any sort of expert that I am looked up to as a mentor and guide? When did I become the person that people who have reported to me are complaining about me to their friends saying what a bitch I am or telling them how great I am? Am I feared when I have to call someone into my office to confront them on something they’ve done? I still have to hold back tears in these situations because I hate confrontation of any kind.
I’m not going to like that day when I am offered a seat on the train simply because I look too old to be standing. I don’t want to be the old couple that is called “cute” by people in their 20s just because I’m holding hands with my husband. None of these are original thoughts, I know, but as I turn 47 in just two days, I find myself wanting to run and flee, in the opposite direction, down the timeline, from a big giant statue of a 5 and a 0. I ADORE my life. It is absolutely everything I want it to be (except for never having the money part) but there is something about mortality that doesn’t sit very well with me.