Tuesday, June 19, 2007

When Are You Going to Grow Up?

When my mom told me this weekend that she couldn't believe I was turning 30 in a few short months, I read something in her eyes that said something other than "my baby's growing up". I read "when is my baby going to grow up?"

Here's the thing. My brother, 28, lives at home with his 8-year-old daughter. He goes to college (finally, after a really sketchy employment history) and really will be in no position to leave the house anytime soon because of the kid. He is perpetually 18 years old, if that. He doesn't age in my mother's eyes because he doesn't grow up. When people ask how old my brother is, the answer that pops into my head has been -- for years -- 23.

Now there's me. Gonna be 30 this year, when all her coworkers' kids are in their 20s and starting families. I just signed on with VF Magazine (the reason for my latest absence from the blogosphere, though I have many handwritten entries that need to be typed up!) as their Art Director and Associate Editor. What does that mean? I am now a professional goth. All kidding aside, though, it's now part of my JOB to dress up, wear funky hairpieces, and go to concerts, listen to music, immerse myself in a culture that's dominated by a much younger demographic. Working for a music magazine is my DREAM JOB, and while my mom shares my enthusiasm (add in a possibly unhealthy dose of fear because it's a risk), I can tell that there's a part of her that sees this as a roadblock to me growing up.

As an aside, when I told my mother-in-law about the magazine this weekend, the distaste emanated from her like a sickly green fog in her aura. She doesn't like me being a career woman anyway, but this was just too much. "When are you kids going to grow up and start having a family?" oozed out her ears. The longer I know her, the more I think that she resents both my husband and me. We're too weird for her, we don't fit her mold, we're not like her kids.

But my mom's always been supportive, even with her occasional slips during situations like "when you have kids you'll understand", or "is that why A doesn't want kids?" Of course there's a part of her that wants to see me with a family, that doesn't see my marriage as a family. That's natural. But it's hard.

Am I imagining the disappointment? I don't know. But "I can't believe you're turning 30" held so much weight, so much more than I think it should have. Moreso than just the fact that it means she has a 30-year-old daughter. She's said as much, when I tell her about my weekends clubbing with friends, my travels to see concerts. I know she hoped that I'd settle down after getting married, and just the opposite has happened. I confuse her, but at least from her I feel that it's okay.

MiL won't be happy until I'm pregnant with my second child and staying at home. Until then, we're still a couple of spoiled children who need someone to teach us how to act our age.