When I was 13, my mom was old. In fact, she was roughly the same age I am now, but to me, she was old. She listened to none of the music I liked. The only movies she liked were old movies, movies with people like John Wayne and Bette Davis. She wore mom clothes — double-knit dresses during the week, housedresses on weekends — that were inherently unsexy. When she dressed up, pressed her hair and put on makeup, she looked good, but old lady good.
My mom didn’t read books very often, and certainly wasn’t interested in the romances or Harold Robbins’ novels I favored. Her primary interests were cooking, sewing and gardening — old lady stuff. And her ideas about sex (oral sex is gross) and romance (no such thing) struck me as positively ancient. I felt like she would have put all of us girls in chastity belts until we were 30, if she could have found three of them. I was convinced my mother couldn’t relate at all to anything I was going through when I was a teenager. My friends all had old mothers, and we all felt the same way.
I am not like my mother.
My 13-year-old daughter and I not only listen to the same music, we have lively arguments about the merits, or lack thereof, of Nicki Minaj and Drake. I don’t censor her music anymore, although I will comment on the most foul, misogynistic or just plain ridiculous lyrics.
I read prolifically, and my bookshelves are fast becoming a library for her. This year, she found three of the books on her required reading list on my bookshelves. We get manicures, pedicures, and our eyebrows threaded together. We did yoga classes together this summer. If I didn’t think Child Protective Services would come take her away, I’d sign her up to take pole dancing classes with me.
I don’t enjoy cooking, and I don’t garden or sew. My ex-husband fancies himself the chef (although he only does barbecue, collard greens and fried chicken), so she’ll have to learn that skill from him. She doesn’t expect me to be a bread- and cookie-baking mom. She seems to get more of a kick telling people the name of the cosmetics company I work for.
My mother had no clothes I would have wanted to be seen in. My daughter stays in my closet, trying on my tops, shoes and boots. She likes the fact that her mom wears, and looks good in, J Brand and 7 for All Mankind jeans.
And she gets — or tries to — a bit too involved in the details of my post-divorce dating and sex life.
I’ve noticed the same thing with the moms of her friends. They are women who work out and display still-tight figures in body-hugging tops and premium jeans, who color their hair, get their nails done and wear makeup. It used to be, when I was a kid, that the working moms were the only moms who still seemed to care about their appearance. Now, it’s the stay-at-home, bread- and cookie-baking moms who are all yoga-toned and super-fit, and the working moms struggle to stay on par with them.
And our girls seem to revel in the youthfulness of their moms. “My mom doesn’t look her age” is a bragging right.
I didn’t set out to be the young mom. While I was going through my divorce, I most certainly wasn’t. I was a mom stuck in cat hair-covered fleece. But now, having found the freedom to be youthful and playful, I more readily display that side of myself. And my daughter clearly enjoys relating to me as a woman and not just as her mom.
So it truly is no country for old moms. At least not in New York City.