He had a flirtatious look in his eye when I caught sight of him in the long line at Starbucks. He was handsome and way too young for this 41-year-old mother, but he definitely seemed happy with what he saw!
Who, me? was my first thought as I processed what was happening. OMG! OMG! What do I do? Do I smile? Do I flirtatiously flip the hair lying under my baseball cap? How could this be?
A man was checking me out. I was giddy at the thought. I also felt just a bit ashamed that I would even care. The feminist in me wanted to be disgusted by a guy checking me out, but the truth is, I wasn't. Instead, my heart fluttered. I was reminded of who I used to be — someone who kept up with her hair and fitness, someone who would buy a new outfit for every fun, social outing I attended. I remembered my pre-kid days and what it was like to flirt and date and be excited about the thought of connecting with a member of the opposite sex. And so, I was flattered in that Starbucks line. It felt good. I felt renewed. And even as I wondered if — maybe — I wasn't totally past my prime, I felt younger.
My daughter stood beside me as I grinned proudly and stepped up to the barista with an unfamiliar confidence. I paid for my iced macchiato, and as we headed over to the pickup (pun intended) area, I couldn't help but glance back at the stranger behind us in line. That's when it hit me like a freight train: his eyes were directed toward my beautiful, young, athletic daughter. He was not checking me out at all — he was checking her out the whole time! I am such an idiot, I thought. Of course he wasn't checking me out!
Suddenly, I was disgusted with his actions. It was cute and flattering for me, but completely gross and unacceptable when I realized he was hitting on my 15-year-old!
I couldn't believe it, either. How did this happen? My daughter had (as if overnight) become a young woman. I wasn't prepared for guys to be checking her out at all. Certainly not ones who could have been checking out her mom. I never saw this day coming. I didn't know how to act or what to do. Should I tell her or is that just weird? The questions flooded my mind like rapid fire — has she ever noticed a guy checking her out before? Is this my new norm? Is this her new norm? OMG, does she have a boyfriend? Has she ever kissed a boy?
Life as I knew it had changed forever. In this one, unexpected moment, I saw my daughter differently for the first time and I just wasn't ready. I wasn't ready to welcome dating, heartbreak and gynecologist visits into my precious daughter's life — not yet. And I really wasn't ready to admit what this meant for me — there was no going back to the glory days of being young and carefree. While I may feel forever 28, I sure as hell don't look it — and that is OK.
Life happens and it happens quickly. Days turn to weeks and weeks to months and before you know it, your baby girl is the desire of some stranger's eye in line at a random Starbucks and you, mama, well, you are a middle-aged, wise, loving mother who can't comprehend where the time has gone. You may long for the days of size 4 pants and a wrinkle-free forehead, but don't worry, that will pass — because life has a way of throwing acceptance in your face, whether you like it or not.
And so, with my iced macchiato in hand, I looked at my daughter and decided not to tell her what I just witnessed. I wanted to keep her as my little girl for just a bit longer — even if it was only one extra day.