It happened, and it keeps happening, even when I’m not with the kids. A seemingly harmless, three letter word, “mam.” But when spoken, and to me, “mam” feels like nails on a chalk board. Really, “mam,” how old do you think I am?! “Mam” immediately acknowledges that I am older than the person addressing me, old enough in fact to be referred to as “mam.”
My visceral reaction to being called, “mam” strikes me odd because I actually don’t mind getting older. As I age, I gain confidence and am comfortable with who I am and how I live. I am passionate about my work and I have a family I adore. I even enjoy working out and am proud of my level of fitness. So then, why does being called “mam,” take my breath away?
When I was in my early 20’s, my dad told me that he didn’t feel a day older than 23…in his mind that is. His comment made me laugh, but I have never forgotten it. And, as I age, it makes more sense to me. So, even though I drive a car pool, fold laundry on Friday nights, find a strange sense of pride in making school lunches, and wear a sensible winter coat, in my head, I’m still me. I really don’t place an age on that me, so when a young adult calls me “mam,” it reflects a me I don’t recognize.
There’s nothing, really, I can do about it. “Mam” is a perfectly respectful way to address someone and I am, in fact, getting older. I suppose the next time it happens, rather than get jarred by it, I will take a moment to reflect on all that I have and all that I have become. Afterall, I was never a fan of “young lady,” or “hun,” anyway.