I recently came upon a blog called “Twenty-four at Heart”. (If you aren’t already reading it, take a look) (And THANKS to Midlife Slices (read this too) for teaching me how to add that link!) Anyway, it struck me that we all have an age in our minds where we remain regardless of how much time passes. Mine is 27. Sometime during my 27th year, I finally stopped being my Mommy and Daddy’s little girl and grew up. Relatively speaking, of course. This is a little sad, given the fact that I married at 19 and became a mother at 24. What can I say except, I’m a late bloomer. But suddenly, I was a bitch. And I mean that in the most positive of ways. I can’t say that I still don’t lapse into people pleasing occasionally but at the age of twenty seven I realized I don’t always have to do what people tell me to do, expect me to do or want me to do.
At 27, I was fit, thin, young, not completely unattractive and confident. When I imagine myself in any situation now, I don’t picture the forty-something me, I envision the perkier, firmer version. When I dress to go out into the world, I always check myself in the mirror before leaving. Occasionally someone will take a picture of me and then be “kind” enough to share the photograph with me. I’m always shocked to find that the image in the photograph is much older and heavier than the woman I saw in the mirror before I left the house. A camera defect? I think not. It’s that state of complete denial and a mental image of the twenty-seven year old version of me deeply planted into my brain that I just can’t (won’t) let go.
I’m not alone. I’m sure of it. My grandfather died when I was a teenager and my grandmother came to live with us. She always referred to our next door neighbor as “that old woman next door”. That “old woman” was probably 30 years younger than Grandma. That leaves me to wonder, what was Grandma’s mental age?
Recently while sitting with color on my hair at the salon, my stylist, who I will call Stacy (because that is her name) was getting ready to cut the hair of what appeared to me to be a woman of no less than 90 years. The woman was very thin, with many lines in her face. Her skin showed many (what my mother referred to as) age spots. Stacy asked, “What are we going to do today?” The woman flashed one of the most beautiful smiles I’ve ever seen and said, “Just make me cute!” In her eyes, I’m certain I saw the sparkle of a twenty-something young woman.
So, I ask you, what is your mental age?