Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Thank you, Ma'am

Last night I went to Robert's, and as I left, the young clerk said, "Thank you, Ma'am. Have a nice evening."

Ma'am? Can I really be old enough that the clerks consider me a "Ma'am?"

I was discussing this with a woman on the bus this morning. She said that she doesn't mind being "Sister" somebody, but she can't quite get to "Mrs."

I have been Sister Hill since right after we were married. Many of the young ladies we lived near didn't like being "Sister." It made them feel old. Plus, "Sister" was their mother-in-law's name. I always liked being Sister Hill. It was the only difference between me and some of the children. (Really. The ONLY difference.)

When I started teaching preschool I was Mrs. Hill, because my first name is pretty hard for toddlers to say, especially compared to "Hill." Mrs. Hill sounded like a teacher, which is what I wanted. Plus, I had been Mrs. Hill at our children's school. If you volunteer for your children at a school, you are entitled to be known as Mrs.

I remember looking in the mirror one day when I was about 25 and realizing that my body had stopped growing up and was starting to grow old. My eyelids are what I particularly remember, because they didn't behave in the same elastic way that they always had. Perhaps I was sleep-deprived. Perhaps I hadn't drunk enough water. Or maybe my body was getting older (the most likely scenario). I wish I had written the date in my journal. Dear Journal, Today I am growing older. It happened overnight.

Now I am 40 years old. My body is definitely not what it once was, but I am a relatively healthy, attractive woman. I am also a happy woman. I believe that I have learned a lot of things along the road of life; but I'm still just me.

I'm the same me who toilet papered a lot of houses, danced during halftime, sang in productions, and felt like a princess in a beautiful dress. I'm the same me who ran around a high school and then a college campus, who held my own brand new babies, and stayed up till all hours of the night.

After my conversation on the bus this morning, I walked past the Lion House and the Beehive House on my way to the COB. I can't remember which one it was now, but my grandma lived in one of these houses for a time as a young, single, working woman. That would have been in the 1940's. She was wearing stiletto heels, cute dresses, nylons with a seam up the back, and her hair in funny curls. I was not even a thought in her mind. My mother probably wasn't even a thought in her mind! But I can't help but wonder if she looks at her 80-something self in the mirror sometimes and thinks, "Where did you come from? I'm still that girl!"

Or pauses when the sales clerk says, "Thank you, Ma'am."


T said...

For me "Ma'am" is just another way to say "Sir" which to me have a military meaning--not age. So, to have someone say "Ma'am" brings the thought to my mind that that person has respect for me. Now, on the other hand, I am one of those women you write about that HATES to be called Mrs. no matter where it is---not quite sure what I will have my students call me when I finish my masters degree. Any suggestions?

wjmom said...

Ms. T. (Skip the mohawk) :)

Amy said...

At least you're still cool and not old and weird....yet. :)