I used to be one of six and one of four respectively. I guess, at times, I was really one of eight. I am the youngest of six children. Two boys and four girls. So, eight in our family, six kids, and the youngest of “the girls.” To further classify I was always one of the “little” girls because the two oldest sisters were the “older” girls.
Most of us look very similar and have similar body types. As the youngest of six I was instantly profiled at school. “Oh, you are one of the Dent sisters,” they would say, and then automatically assume that I was going to be exactly like my older sisters and make the same choices that they made.
Most of this was OK because I have fun and wonderful sisters, but there were times I just wanted to be myself. I suppose most younger children have the same feelings that I had growing up. I wanted to find my own space and not be constantly compared to others. And yet, I loved having that comfort of knowing that I belonged in a group.
Our sister group was, and still is, tightly knit. Several years ago, I lost my life-long partner in the “little girl” group and I still feel that keenly on some days. Other days I am busy being my unique self. Over the years our groupings have gotten married and created newer groups within our own families.
Nowadays, we are re-profiled as moms and grandmothers. No one knows our given names anymore. And if they called us by our given name they would get into trouble. Not that they haven’t tried it and found out very quickly that only a few are privileged to call me Mom and they better stick with the safe route and call me “Mom” and not “Fawn.” I love my mom profile.
I can be shopping in a large grocery store and when any young voice calls out, “Mom!” I immediately turn and look for the child as do many others in the store. The mom profile is universal and hard to beat. There are times, however, that I step back from the mom profile and shoo them on to someone else – mainly their dad. “YOUR child got in trouble at school today.” He chokes on his supper and says, “Since when did he become MY child? You are the mom go and fix it.”
Our lives are inundated by different groupings, profiles, and other categorizing. Some we tolerate and others we despise. While I like being Spiritual, I don’t really want to be classified as religious. I love being in the mom group, but I am not ready for the AARP group even if they do send me colorful mail almost daily. I prefer being in the healthy group over the sick and needing prayers group.
Some groups we aim for but never quite get into. I am hardly ever classified in the calm and quiet group. Somehow, I end up in the loud and ornery group, but I must say that we usually have fun in that group. And I am never immediately placed in the serious group even though I can be pretty serious about some things.
As I have gotten older I find that I enjoy my groupings more. I know who I am and where I belong. That is comforting for me. No more trying to be someone I am not. No more trying to get others to like me. No more getting upset if someone chooses another path.
Maybe I am just old, but I find the culture we live in to be very sad indeed. Many of the basic groupings have gone virtual. Friendships are maintained online. Neighbors stay indoors. Grocery shopping is going online for Pete’s sake. I love to grocery shop to see all the folks that I haven’t seen in a while. Movies are online. Bill pay online. Recordings. Recordings. Recordings.
The online groups might be faster, and we don’t have to get dressed, but we miss so much humanity along the way. Calling real people for appointments and listening to their encouragement. Handing over a check or cash for a product and chatting it up with the cashier – commiserating that they don’t get Thanksgiving Day off. Hugging another at the park after walking the trails. Looking at the handwriting on a note. Smelling a newborn. Or at least, the Johnson’s baby lotion. I am not ready to give up on the “real” group just yet.
In fact, I am going to take a knee at the next ballgame I attend and protest the use of classifying humans as account numbers. I am not just an online account number.