Age is a funny thing.
I remember the days of feeling utterly intimidated by 20-somethings. They appeared so much older and more refined, virtually as powerful as my own parents. Even at age 19, it was like this gap between planets that I had waited my whole adolescence to bridge, eager to feel superior on “the other side.”
Sure enough, those magical birthdays came and went, and by age 22, the 20- and 21-year-olds that I once idolized were now so young and immature; they didn’t know the first thing about life.
Talk about a factor for dominance and inferiority. There was something so cool about being the oldest in a crowd, even by a few short months. But what did that age gap really represent? To date, I can name several teenagers with more maturity than some of the 20-somethings I’ve known (and dated).
Eleven-year-olds with more maturity.
Anyway, I imagine that, after 30, those minor age gaps become far more trivial. No one cares if I’m four months older than you, probably because they finally realized that you didn’t, in fact, have much control over the day you entered this world. If someone is too young for you, blame it on his or her parents.
My 21st year started with a bang.
After recovering from my mysterious illness, I moved to Madison with my new boyfriend—a Wisconsin native whom I’d met in Moab earlier that summer.
Aside from the negative temperatures and the six million inches of accumulated snow that winter, Wisconsin kind of reminded me of Texas. Sconnies are so damn proud of their state, they’d probably strive to secede, too, if they could.
Brett Favre, cheese curds, beer, and darts—these were the things I was told to appreciate if I was going to stay. So I acclimated. It wasn’t too hard; I already liked cheese and booze, Favre was pretty attractive, and who doesn’t enjoy throwing tiny missiles at a circular target?
After about 10 months of this routine, however, I was ready for change. That 20-something need for exploration of somewhere fresh was prevalent, much like that of the land-seeking emigrants on the Oregon Trail, I presume (sans the cholera and dysentery).
Unfortunately though, my next stop was anywhere but new territory. I hesitantly journeyed back to the Lone Star State, having caved to the outside pressure to obtain my college degree—that tangible proof of one’s intelligence to proclaim to the professional world.
At age 22, I was back in school. But I still wasn’t keen on slaughtering a tree just for that arrogant place in a frame above the home office desk that I didn’t even own. Besides, my life at the time was anything but stable. I was jobless, homeless, and flat broke. My relationship was on the rocks (twilight zone), and I couldn’t even begin to focus on my education. Sorry, Mom and Dad, but the college path clearly wasn’t paved for me.
Instead, I was on the threshold of being temporarily pulverized by Life, who was at the pitcher’s mound yet again.
I’ll never forget watching that little plus sign appear on, well, at least 37 home pregnancy tests. Far too young and stupid to procreate, I’m pretty sure I had a seizure on my bathroom floor before drowning in a puddle of my tears…
Growing up, I was hardly that little girl who fantasized about her wedding day/dress/cake, and I sure as hell didn’t schedule a year of my life in which I would bear my first child. A tomboy at heart, I spent much of my childhood playing kick-the-can, rollerblading with my neighbors, camping at national parks, and challenging my brothers to endless games of Sports Talk Baseball on Sega Genesis.
These days, thanks to shows like Teen Mom and 16 & Pregnant that encourage our youth to reproduce immediately after puberty, it would seem that my 23-year-old biological clock had just about ticked itself dead. So I guess it’s a good thing I bred while I still had time.
Nonetheless, I was terrified. I moved back to Moab, and after nine months of pure hell, I welcomed my 9.1-pound bundle of joy into the world.
Little did I know, I was embarking on the most wonderful, intense, exhilarating, self-sacrificing, gratifying, liberating, life changing, heartbreaking, self-affirming, challenging, humbling, rewarding job on this planet: parenthood.
And age—well, age was just a number.
“Magical birthdays came and went, and by age 22, the 20- and 21-year-olds that I once idolized were now so young and immature; they didn’t know the first thing about life.”