While living in India, I had two experiences with “older” women that I can relate to more today than ever before.
- I shared my room, and alot of my traveling time, in Rajasthan with Helen. Helen was a 69-year old grandmother from San Angelo, Texas. And that is all I saw her to be for the first 2 months we were together – a grandmother. She wore different clothing than me (from the “Women’s Department”) and she wore her hair in a style that speaks of a different era, involving rollers and picks. Honestly, I didn’t even try to find out who she was as a person. About 1/2 way through out trip, she got really anxious. Paralyzed by the unknown, she would avoid going out to do the work we came to do… “What a waste, what a wimp,” I thought, having adjusted to this place like a fish to water. Then our team leader pointed something out – at her core, Helen is just a girl. The same girl she was at my age. She may have been outgoing or shy, pretty or homely, but either way, someone who needs friends. And her years have given her faith and experience that could teach me alot. I think it took reaching out to her/looking out for her about 2 days before Helen completely opened up. She began to share her journey to India. It turned out she was an adventurer like I only dreamed of becoming. And I almost missed it all.
- About 1 1/2 months into our time in Rajasthan, the president of Caleb Project and his wife came to check on our team. They left 3 elementary-age children back in Colorado while they traveled throughout India. During their stay with us in Jodhpur, the wife pulled me aside and said this:
“I may not look like you, but I am not different. When I look in the mirror, I still see the young girl I was in college, and wonder who this woman is. I need a friend. You may not think that we are the same. But I am having a hard time right now. I see myself as the same as you.”
Right now, I can understand these words more than ever before. Most of my social life is spent with beautiful younger women who seem to be a lifetime away from motherhood and marriage. Many times, I feel like I don’t know what to talk about with them, because all of my similar experience are “I remember when.”
As I grow older, I still perceive myself as 20 years old. I still long for my mother’s approval. I still love the butterflies I get from holding hands. I still try to shop in the junior’s section. Only now, my body shows the bulge of 2 pregnancies. And it doesn’t matter if I can wear a bikini, cuz my husband likes cotton panties and a t-shirt best.
Actually, writing this made me realize what feels so different even though I think I am the same – I feel safe, secure, happy, like I have succeeded. Not that I’ve stayed a size 4, but that I am in a relationship I could only dream of at 20. I have kids I never even imagined. I don’t feel like money is ruling my life, even though it is often a thorn in my side. My relationship with God is more requiring of faith than ever (which is a good thing). And I am not bored, which is a big fear I have about life.