Military mama: Hard getting used to idea of growing old

I recently celebrated my birthday, and am soon attending a high school reunion. I though nothing else could remind me more that my teens have long since slipped away. Apparently I was wrong.

I realize that I’m nowhere near “old” in relation to a traditional lifespan, however there are subtle reminders that make me inwardly cringe. I recently had an experience that had me looking over my shoulder trying to figure out who this person could possibly be addressing. “Ma’am” is something I’m certainly used to hearing, however this context gave me a whole new perspective. The woman speaking to me was an adorable senior citizen that no doubt is the favorite Nana or Grammy to someone somewhere. I felt old.

I then learned that there are levels of “ma’am-ing.”

The first type is casual and probably something experienced on a regular basis for my female readers. “Ma’am” when spoken from the mouth of a military member is a sign of nothing but respect and simply the proper way to address a woman of any age. Southerners and farm kids often use this type of ma’am in their daily conversations.

Then there’s the “ma’am” that comes out of the mouth of a teenager, typically in a snarky fashion accompanied by an eye roll. It serves the purpose of feigning respect while reminding the addressee that she is most certainly ancient and clueless.

And finally there’s the “ma’am” that stings the most of any of the aforementioned ma’ams; it comes from someone eligible for AARP benefits. There is nothing insulting intended whatsoever, but the implication is what reminded me that I am no spring chicken. This lady, obviously much older and experienced in life has addressed me as a peer. No “miss,” “dear,” “hun” or “sweetie” here. Obviously the dark half-moons under my eyes gave the impression that I’m far from being a youthful co-ed. I felt as if I should soon to be a member of the crow’s feet club.

Overreaction, on my part, undoubtedly. I am still a twenty something, even if the “something” side far outweighs the “twenty” end of the spectrum. I realize I’m nowhere near retirement. However every woman is entitled to the right to feel old, especially after a case of the ma’ams.

She is then welcome to shake that feeling off with a hot pair of high heels and a little extra effort in the wardrobe department. Gosh, I miss the days when as a mom I was mistaken for a babysitter.

I guess, in whatever form it may come, ma’am it is.