I knew before it ever happened that it would happen. And it didn’t take long.
Hope was just two weeks old when I was out with my two teenage daughters, Mary and Emma. She was fussing while they shopped for clothes at Plato’s Closet. I told them I was going to take the baby outside. “That’s right,” a lady chimed in, “let Grandma take you outside.” I flinched for half a second, but like I said, I saw it coming.
It is increasingly comical to me how many people mistake me for Hope’s grandmother.
I blogged recently about attending Matthew’s “A” Day at West Point. Folks looked with awe at Matt in his West Point uniform, gazed softly at Hope in all her sweetness, then stared at the Captain and me, questions in their eyes. “Number 3 and number 10,” we answered almost before they could ask.
At the beauty shop last week, the hair dresser just came right out and asked, “Is that your baby or her baby?” she said as she gestured toward Bethany, who, at 23, is technically old enough to be Hope’s mom. Which makes me technically old enough to be Hope’s grandmother. “They are both mine,” I said with a laugh.
But today when the Kroger checkout lady asked me if I wanted the senior discount for those 55 years or older? That wasn’t funny. I gulped. I flushed red. It really wasn’t funny.
“You don’t look 55,” both Bethany and Mom Dot reassured me on the way home. “It was only because I was with you,” Bethany added. I found a little comfort in her words. I am, after all, still on the south side of 50.
It is Hope I really feel sorry for. I can hear the conversation now the first time she has a friend over to play: Why do you live with your grandma?
Or at school when I bring cupcakes to her class for her birthday: Why does your grandmother always come to the school? Where is your mother?
And then after she shares the news that I am, in fact, her mother, the next question: Why is your mother so old?
Hope doesn’t know it yet, but there are advantages to having an older mother: I have more wisdom for one thing. And more patience as Cory pointed out last week when a plate crashed to the floor and I hardly noticed. "Stuff happens," was my only response.
The kids make observations frequently, in fact, of all the advantages she has being the youngest of ten. Hope will hardly ever have to take turns getting the front seat; Hope will have her own room way before she is 17; Hope will be the only one at home for five years.
I just pray that Hope has a strong sense of humor. Just like her ancient mother, she is going to need it.