A friend remarked that younger women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s have been disrespectful to her. Their tones, the eye-rolling, and vulgar language are also offensive. This made me wonder where she was encountering these ladies. Most of all, I wondered if I’d met them but hadn’t registered their disdain.
My daughter, the one in her late 30s, has taken a tone, even calling me “Linda” when she has had enough of me being obtuse or bossy. I’ve seen some eye-rolling, albeit behind my back most of the time. Her language has often born evidence of her readiness to join the Navy. Still, I don’t find her behavior disrespectful.
She is no longer my child. She is a grown-up who, from the time she was eighteen, was granted permission to be grown. I invited her to the table where my sister/friends and I gossiped, commiserated, and vented. There were certain topics we shut down because of her youth, but realizing she no longer fit at the children’s table or in the basement with the teens, I made room for her adulthood to begin surrounded by caring, experienced women. I encouraged her to give her opinion and to disagree, if she had a valid point or proof.
I’d seen the 20- and 30-year-old daughters and sons, loping along with childlike tentativeness, eager for approval and permission from mommy and daddy. It wasn’t a good look for them or their parents. Also, I didn’t want to send a child-like adult, with no coping skills, off to college.
I’m glad that I didn’t parent my daughters too long. Consequently, we have adult relationships that we appreciate. They say that I am one of their favorite people in the world. Which is so much more special to me than only their love.
When young women graduate from college, though, they are new creatures. Some are smoking, drinking, having sex, and keeping parents up all night with worry. These women are the new queens! They rule the world and they know it. They think everybody wants to be them and all men desire them. If you’re truthful readers, you felt this way in your 20s.
To my friend and other fifty and sixty-ish ladies, I suggest that you hearken back to your twenties and delve into how you regarded middle-aged women. I think I felt sorry for them.
They would wistfully tell me how they used to be pretty, or have a shape like mine, or how they envied my career choices. Things that made me eye their thickening middles and ankles, their sensible two-inch heels, and pity their lack of reasons to live. If I didn’t take tones with them, I wanted to, and without a doubt, I rolled my eyes at their lamentations.
As for young women I meet today, I don’t notice them going out of their way to disrespect me, but I realize these are disrespectful times. Please, sorry, and thank you are no longer common responses. I’d gamble that only two in ten young people can explain divine retribution. Social skills are no longer taught in schools that require teachers to get students ready to pass standardized tests. “How to introduce your friend to your parents” or “How to choose the correct fork” is no longer in the curriculum.
As the internet, social media, and texting make it unnecessary for young people to interact, certain niceties have fallen by the wayside. Differentiating between models of respect for specific age groups is a thing of the past. Nowadays, “it is what it is” is not just a saying. New role models are coming from scripted reality tv shows designed to cull out the raunchiest, most inappropriate behavior which our youths have mistaken for real life and emulated.
Women of a certain age are no longer queens of this irreverent world. We must encourage each other in old/school ways. We can brunch, lunch, meet for movies and drinks. Go to jazz shows, fashion shows, church activities, and support each other’s endeavors, together!
Instead of commiserating over intended and unintended slights, we can smile at the craziness that’s going on around us. We can laugh because most of the success young women are enjoying, we either invented or perfected. Our young women are enjoying things we dreamt up (who knew we were opening doors that would allow them to work from home three days a week—make outrageous salaries—and still get work benefits?)
The other day, a friend complimented my strappy one and a half inch heels and told me how sexy and youthful I was looking. She said she admired how I was holding it up for the senior ladies. Good enough for me! I think my new mantra will be, “Been there, done that!”