All it took was just a few words to take an exciting adventure and turn it into a hurtful memory. I was so stunned at what the pilot said it to me that I didn't even muster up enough guts to respond. Of course, 14 years later, I now would have a cleaver come-back to help put that awkward moment into perspective.
Let's face it ladies . . . pregnancy has its ups and downs and my first experience cooking that bundle of joy nearly killed me . . . literally. So after countless scary medical bumps along the way, gaining over 50 pounds on my petite stature, delivering weeks early and going through traumatic labor, I was pretty happy to not only be alive after delivery, but to have given birth to a beautiful, healthy little boy.
The first month of mommyhood was not easy . . . in fact, it was hellish (more details written in past blogs). I was terribly thankful to finally get to a place of feeling normal not only as a person, but a new-normal of caring for another human being. So you can probably imagine how excited I was to be joining my parents on their Florida vacation with my tiny miracle.
My husband had to stay back for awhile due to work so I decided that three-month old Camden and I were going to join my parents on the plane heading to the sunshine state. I remember feeling so incredibly proud to be a mom and excited to carry him through the airport as people ooed and awed over my child.
But to this day, I will never forget the moment when I walked onto the plane. The pilot was standing near the cockpit greeting passengers and when I stepped aboard, his first and only words were, "You're too young to have kids." I confusingly smirked and headed back to my aisle seat. I wanted so badly to list off the things that proved I was not as young as I looked and that I was capable of being a mother. I was 25, married 4 years already, earned a Master's Degree, traveled the world, lived in two other countries on my own and owned a home.
Thankfully I didn't let those words ruin my trip, but it obviously stuck with me even until today. I was floored that someone would make such a comment. That someone would quickly assume my worth as a person and value as a parent simply by my outward appearance.
Don't hear me wrong . . . I know there are plenty of benefits of looking youthful, but I have experienced a number of cons as well. That was not the first age-comment I had heard in my lifetime. During my twenties, I had people comment "how cute it was that I had my own credit card" and got stares from people in kids' clothing stores as I shopped for my own children. People thought I was the babysitter instead of the mother or a careless teenager adding to the troubling statistics. Many times those words and looks came with presumptions and stereotypes. There have been countless times in my life where I've felt the need to prove my age and earn the respect that should come with my accomplishments.
Even to this day, there are times that people quickly judge me based on my outward appearance, believing that my proposed age range dictates my worth and success. I've been passed over countless times for gigs because my competition looked a bit older and the client felt the audience would better relate with them on screen. Now one year away from the ripe age of 40, I look back at the memories with humor and look ahead with understanding and perspective.
So, here's what I've learned from all of this . . . don't always believe what your eyes see. I am the first to admit that I am absolutely AWFUL at guessing one's age so instead of making presumptions, give people a chance. Every youth has potential and value. Every homeless person has worth and talent. Every gender holds skills and success. Every tattooed and neon-colored-haired person is priceless.
Hold your tongue. Don't believe your eyes. Give people the opportunity to show you their true selves . . . their inner beauty and talents before you judge them.
Experience does come with age however that doesn't mean someone's value or capability doesn't already exist. Open your eyes. And open your heart. Because what you see on the outside doesn't tell the entire story. The truth is hiding beneath and ready to be found.
Camden and mom summer 2017. He definitely can't sit on my lap anymore on the plane!