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I'm His MOTHER, Not His Grandma!

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Guest blogger Robin Gorman Newman, first-time Mom at 42, was stunned when she mistaken for her 5- year-old son's grandmother.


I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. I've heard others speak of it, but I figured I would never fit the bill, especially at this time in my life.I was wrong. Yesterday I was at our neighborhood diner with my husband, a friend and her two kids, and my son. I had taken him potty, and we were rushing to exit the bathroom. As we washed our hands, a woman entered the bathroom, saw us, and asked if I was the mom or grandmom? I was stunned. Livid. Totally caught off guard. And, suddenly quite self-conscious. I stole a fast glance in the bathroom mirror before we exited, examining the age of my face. Ok.....I don't look 22. I admit it. I have a couple of frown lines. I certainly feel more tired than I did when I was younger. But, could someone truly mistake me for a grandmother? I could be a grandmom at 47, that is true, but I only became a mom at 42. And, some become first time moms even later than that. It is a personal choice. I looked at the woman, with a look of horror on my face, no doubt, and responded, "I'm not going to respond to that," as I bolted out the door with Seth.When I got back to my table, I told my husband and fellow mom/friend what had happened. She, in fact, has a full head of gray hair, and said it has commonly happened to her. I, on the other hand, have no gray (except for some hidden strands) and I don't color my hair.So...what was this about, and why did it get to me so? Do I dress like a grandmom? Where my mannerisms somehow like one? (whatever that means) My friend responded that the stranger probably looked at Seth's blonde hair, compared to my almost jet black hair, and surmised I couldn't possibly be his mom.

Why did she need to know? Once you have a child, does it give complete strangers free license to say whatever is on their mind that relates to you as a parent?

Click here for more from Robin Gorman Newman.

next: Best Kept Secrets of Motherhood
478 comments so far | Post a comment now
sandy A March 9, 2008, 1:24 PM

I gave birth to my now 26 year old at the age of27 then waited to have my 2nd at age 38,(He’s 15 now) I’m now 52,& loving it,both my boys kept me young & youthful,I still have energy at my old age( 52) ANd noone questioned me only to ask if my 2nd was from another marriage.Hah….I”m very much married to the same wonderful man for 28 years,,,,So age is only in the eyes of the beholder,Enjoy your kids no matter what age you have them..

Kate March 9, 2008, 8:00 PM

I’ve learned that people in general these days lack both tact and manners, which can result in an experience similar to yours. My sister just adopted her son from Vietnam, and she often gets the question, “So are you not able to have children of your OWN?” As if it’s anyone’s business, you know? And as if her son isn’t her own child! Just because she didn’t push him out of her uterus doesn’t make him any less her child.

I think your response was perfect. Hopefully that woman realized at that point how absolutely rude her question was. Good luck dealing with crap like this in the future. One response that my sister has come up with is responding to the rude question with, “Why do you want to know?” You might want to try that one sometime!

EG March 10, 2008, 11:52 AM

Touchy, touchy. You’re at an in-between age where you could be a 5-year-old’s mom or grandma. People are always asking personal questions about babies and kids. I really think they just want to relate to you because they have their own kids or grandkids and think it’s the best thing ever. Same reason strangers in the airport asked my son’s age. It’s not relevant to them, but they have kids or grandkids and are relating to us.

EG March 10, 2008, 11:54 AM

Touchy, touchy. You’re at an in-between age where you could be a 5-year-old’s mom or grandma. People are always asking personal questions about babies and kids. I really think they just want to relate to you because they have their own kids or grandkids and think it’s the best thing ever. Same reason strangers in the airport asked my son’s age. It’s not relevant to them, but they have kids or grandkids and are relating to us.

Pam Macaulay March 10, 2008, 3:03 PM

I can relate as I am 47 and have a two year old granddaughter but must admit I like it when they think I am her mother!!

Shelly March 10, 2008, 4:33 PM

Oh I can so relate. I am 43 and my daughter is 2, my hair is dark and hers is blonde. About every 6 months I get that comment and it bothers me…..Maybe they are just trying to relate, but it feels like they are passing judgement.

laec March 10, 2008, 8:42 PM

I had my second child at 41 but no one has ever said anything like this, at least to my face. But that could be because it is really not that unusual around here. I’m from the westside of Los Angeles most moms are within 5 or 6 years of my age. Most of us have or have had careers, gone to grad school, etc. It is interesting which of us are now home and which have carried on at the office. And, at least in my social circle, how good we all feel about our community and the different choices we all have made.

Nikki March 11, 2008, 2:56 AM

I’ve faced the opposite of this. I’m 28, and have an 8 year old son. Occasionally, it’s been asked if he’s my little brother. I realize I may look young, but I had him at 20! Not 16 or 14, 20!
I think the main issue is not being able to properly judge people’s ages anymore. In a time of regular plastic surgery and amazing skin creams, so many women look positively ageless (Sophia Loren, anyone?). It is rather rude to ask random people personal questions like that, but it seems that it’s an overall shift in health care that is beneficial to all women looking amazing at different ages.

Aliza at Babyfruit March 12, 2008, 12:54 PM

I agree that people lack tact. I think people asking questions about children such as “how old is she?” or “where did you get those cute shoes?” are safe, but even asking something as basic as “Is this your baby?” could be heartwrenching for the woman who has miscarried 4 times and is just holding her friend’s baby while she’s in the bathroom. I think there should be an etiquette class for how we speak to people with children - men and women. We seem to have certain boundaries - like not asking a total stranger “So how much do you weigh?” or “Is that a big zit I see on your forehead?” When you see someone with a child and you don’t know how to be tactful, just smile. That goes a long way.

Colleen Welch March 13, 2008, 11:06 PM

I had my second child at 39 and went in for a job interview when she was about three months old. the interviewer asked me if that was a “grandchild” that he heard on the phone. I was totally mortified and said no. Needless to say he was pretty quiet for at least a minute. What is really funny is I get told I look young for my age and had my third child at 42, and I am expecting another one at the age of 44 in May. I think some people assume that you have to be under 30 to have children, I lived in Utah for awhile and I knew several women who became grandmothers at 33, the age I was when I had my first child!

Barb Moore April 9, 2008, 10:56 AM

I had my oldest son when I was 17, he is now 33, my sister who is 21 months younger than me, had her only son at 37 he is now 12, so now my grandchildren think that my nephew is one of them. It takes some explaining to get a 4 year old to understand that your sister is not your daughter :)

Ruby April 12, 2008, 5:57 AM

try to laugh it off… I am always mistaken for my younger neices and nephews mom, and several people have asked if my oldest nephew, who was born when I was 12, if you sig. other!

Carol May 30, 2008, 9:56 PM

When I was born, my mom was 45 and my dad was 51. They were wonderful caring beautiful people. My biggest fear was that they would die before I 1.graduated highschool, 2. got married, and 3. had children. Each of those milestones were met except for the birth of our last child. We were blessed with one daughter at 30 and then our next babe arrived when we were 39. I remember my parents always saying that I kept them young( my dad retired when I was 11 ). All of my teenage friends adored my parents because they were so loving and cool (tempered). After going out to parties with my friends, my dad would be the one to drive us home, the other parents would be in no condition to drive. How cool was that. I hope my wonderful husband and I can do the same for our kids. Only once did a WOMAN ask me if that beautiful child was my granddaughter—to which my very articulate daughter replied ” I’ll have you know, that beautiful woman is my mom.” Out of the mouths of babe’s

Michelle June 2, 2008, 8:03 AM

BEEN THERE & DONE THAT!!!! I’m 47 and had my first Daughter right before I turned 41. Then had my second Daughter 15 months later. We finally gave up hope after 10 years of trying and BOOM!! SURPRISE!!! Even my friends from high school thought I was Grandma!! The best was when we were at the grocery store and the cashier asked my girls if they were having fun shopping w/granny and my then 4 yr. holding her little sisters hand said thats not my grandma thats my mom! And said “How rude! Then turned to look at me and said “Mommy you don’t look like a grandma you look like a Princess mommy to me!” The cashier turned red and I felt like the Queen for a day!! The Lord blessed w/beautiful
girls. Even though it would’ve been nicer to have them in my 20’s heck even 30’s. I know w/my health problems etc. It would be nice to have all the energy I had back then. I too worry about being around to see all of the mile stones in their lives. So we try to make every day count, have fun and just love each other. So try not to worry and have as much fun as possible. You are not alone in the older Mommy department. Enjoy Enjoy and enjoy each day and be THANKFUL that Epson salts was invented for those days we have Very achy/sore bones & muscles!!

sj June 11, 2008, 9:24 PM

I had my first child at 44 and just got asked the grandchild question for the first time today. (I’m now 45) Though it felt kind of yucky, the woman was probably close to 80 and perhaps not as familiar with us older mums. I just said, “No, she’s my daughter.” and the woman said, “oh” with no indication she’d possibly embarassed me. I know few moms who are as active with their child as I am, so what the heck - no shame in my game. I’m living my dream (finally) and no one is going to steal a moment of that happiness!

Julie June 13, 2008, 10:24 AM

I have a related, but kind of opposite problem with my son. My mother was 18 when she had me. I was 22 when I had my son. Now, when I’m out with my 42 year old mother and my 8 month old son, people assume that the adorable little boy they’re cooing over is my brother. I’m very proud of my son, and it bothers me that people think he belongs to my mom, even if it does give her quite the ego boost.

Momofthreegirls June 17, 2008, 12:01 PM

UGH..this really bothers me. Im 38 and people do it to me all the time. I wonder if its also a stereotype..that women of a certain group couldnt possibly have young children if shes older than 30. Most of the girls in the neighborhood have kids at by those calculations, I could be my girls grandmother..but thats not the case.

kel67 June 18, 2008, 10:08 AM

i know how you feel i was 39 when i had my third child i have a 21year old girl,19 year old son and my baby boy is now 19months and i enjoy him so much i also have a granddaughter older than him

idazenbug June 18, 2008, 10:39 AM

I would agree, people these days tend to have less tact, especially when it comes to children. I had my son when I was 31, and am pregnant with my 2nd at 37, though I’ll be 38 when I have her; my pregnancy is what is called “geriatric pregnancy” — doncha love that? Anyways, I think some people still aren’t used to the idea of older people being parents. That being said, that doesn’t give them license to say whatever is on their mind, and usually my response would be, “That’s interesting. Why do you ask?” Though of course when it happens, I would be quite shocked too at their rudeness!

Brenda June 20, 2008, 10:36 AM

I decided to adopt after 28 years of being married and childless at age 49. I was checking out a preschool playground and was watching my daughter climb up the jungle jim. A child, a little boy walked up and began to ask questions (as children will), “What’s her name?”, “will she be coming to school here?” “why does she wear glasses?”, I answered all his questions and then volunteered that I was her Mom, (mistake out of the mouth of babes!) His eyes opened wide as he blurted out, HER MOM you look more like her GRANDMOTHER!!
I laughed so hard, it prepared me for the instances when the lady in line behind me (as I was showing a friend of mine pictures of my daughter), said “proud grandmother showing off pictures?” I simply stated no I’m her mother, she was more embarrassed than I was. I do not look bad a few gray hairs and few earned wrinkles. Nothing bad, but I look at the mothers of preschoolers these days and they look like babies themselves, so I don’t take offense. I just enjoy my new daughter and count my blessings. God Bless all Mom’s over 50. Brenda

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