Everyday, I feel very young. I feel too young. I'm not sure I want to know how often I think, "I'm too young to be dealing with this." Sometimes, I ask myself "Right?" as if I'm not sure I should ask that question.
I picked up the kids from school in the Spring twice a week. I worked from home in order to pick up the kids. I stood around with all the "real" moms. It was mostly awkward. I felt way too young (and professional-ish) to be standing at a school gate, with little children running around with brightly colored backpacks and kicking their lunch cases around. The amount of screaming and yelling is also something I wasn't used to. I have generally tried to avoid schools for the past so many years. They took on a new meaning when I moved to LA for grad school- Ridiculous side-street traffic. Mini-vans. Sudden stops. Jammed turn lanes. And I still feel that way about them, just with some more depth.
But then I think about how my old (not "older") friends are having babies now. Some of them have toddlers. Maybe I'm not "too young." But then again, I also am seeing that a lot of my old friends are just now getting married. I'm also not raising my husbands babies- I am helping to raise 2 older children. They are only sort of growing up with me but don't accept me as someone that has always been there. I have started later on the timeline, which means I face completely different issues than any of my friends with babies or new marriages.
I am still thinking of myself as "younger", "twenties", and recently out of college. The twenties part is definitely true, but when do you stop being younger? What's "recent"? They say that children of divorce are forced to grow up faster. Same thing for no-bio-kid stepmoms in a first marriage?
There have been plenty of instances where moms have given me dirty looks and teachers have expressed shock that I am a stepmom. Ridiculous, really, since there are many young moms and stepmoms out there, and all of the instances were in the latter half of my twenties. There have been only two times where I've been respected as a legitimate source of authority by others outside of family and close friends: First, as a soccer coach. The parents look to me for advice about soccer, injuries, and feedback about their children's progress. Second, a mother who decided to get over her prejudice told my stepchildren to respect me and say. "Thank you," when I bought them snacks in Target. Very gratifying, but moments that are noticeably few and far in between.
Is it really my age? Am I actually "too young"? Why should a stepmom be older? Moms are able to start young, and it's considered healthy. A stepmom picks up at a later stage, missing things no matter what age they are. Is there an expectation of age for stepmoms no one mentions? And besides all the societal ponderings, do my feelings of being too young actually reflect a desire to be less responsible and mature?