It happened again. I was watching my 12 year old twins ride motorized animal scooters at Artegon Marketplace when two ladies sitting on a bench struck up a conversation with me. “Are those your granddaughters?” one asked. “No,” I said with a heavy sigh, “they are my daughters.” Apparently hard of hearing, she repeated the question. In a sharper tone, I responded, “No, they are my daughters.” They looked uncomfortable and awkwardly apologized. I politely accepted their apology and immediately started to write this blog post in my head.
Yes, world, I’m an older than average mom. I first realized this was a “thing” when I asked a nurse the meaning of the big and bold “AMA” stamp on my OB file. Advanced Maternal Age. I was 42 when I delivered twin girls. Technically I could be their grandmother if I’d had a daughter at 21, and she’d had twin daughters at 21.
It’s become a joke with my girls and me, this “grandmother” thing. They actually get angry when it happens because they think I look pretty young for 54. “SERIOUSLY,” they ask, “what is WRONG with people? You do not look like our grandmother,” they say.
Here’s my advice to anyone who feels compelled to strike up a conversation with a stranger – find the filter between your thoughts and your speech. More specifically, here are some do’s and don’ts.
- Don’t make idle conversation based on your assumptions about relationships and families.
- Don’t ask a woman if the children with her are her grandchildren. If you must comment, assume she’s their mom. Let grandma feel good about being mistaken for mom rather than the other way around.
- Don’t ask a mom of twins if they “run in the family.” All twin moms know that’s nosy stranger code for asking about fertility treatments.
- Don’t ask a mom of biracial children if they are adopted.
- Don’t ask a mom with several children if they are all hers. And if you can’t stop yourself from asking and she says yes, please don’t say, “wow, you have your hands full.”
- If you must comment, just say something nice about the children or compliment the mom on her lovely family.
One Sunday my girls and I were enjoying frappuccinos (them) and coffee (me) at our Target’s Starbucks. The woman sitting next to us said to me, “Don’t you just love spending time with your grandchildren?” I paused for a moment and flatly said, “no.” I’m pretty sure she was baffled by my sarcastic response. So I told my daughters that the next time someone asks me if they are my granddaughters I’m going to say, “Wow, I must really be having an off day for you to ask that. I’m their mother.” They laughed and said, “please don’t.” I told them no promises, because that will take a lot of self restraint.