A few weeks ago, someone called me ma’am. To my face.
It wasn’t a joke. Ashton Kutcher didn’t run out of the shadows, cameras in tow, to declare his victory at my having been “punk’d”. Nope. It was just some polite, lovely person who felt that that was the appropriate way to end his brief-but-nowhere-near formal conversation with me.
Have a nice day, ma’am.
My first thought was to look around and query whether he was, in fact, speaking to me. My second thought, after realizing that yes, I was the targeted “ma’am” was to wonder whether I had spontaneously greyed during the 10-minute course of our conversation, or whether I had somehow acquired a cane and forgotten, in my old age, that I’d worn sensible shoes that day.
As much as it may pain us, there is a moment when we internalize our age and declare that we are no longer “young” in the eyes of, well, society. Despite how young you feel/look/act, there is a point where the first digit in your age tells people whether you might be able to get away — judgement-free — with whisky-fueled Tinder indiscretions, or be lumped in with a demographic characterized as fiscally-responsible and law-abiding (otherwise known as the demographic that begins the occasional sentence with “back in my day…”).
Once upon a time, the word “ma’am” was reserved for women as a term of respect; it was for women who had earned the title. But let’s be real; now, it’s a term stamped onto seemingly older women as a passive term of acknowledgement.
May I take your plate, ma’am?
Let me get the door for you, m’am.
Do you need help crossing the street, ma’am?
Ok, I may have gone a bit far with that last one, but you get my point. Being called “ma’am” can understandably make you feel, for lack of a better word, “old and that title, regardless of age, is not something to which anyone seems to aspire.
But what if we were to take control of that word and use it for the greater (modern) good?
Today, those of us who are striving through The Midlife are the evolved version of the word “ma’am”. We wear our power, wealth, and prowess on our designer sleeves. Sensible shoes have been replaced with sky-high Louboutins. Children on the hip have been replaced with designer dogs and crossbody bags. Sundays spent doing chores have been replaced with guess-what-I-did-last-night sessions with giggling BFFs and several glasses of frosé.
The old ma’ams have been replaced with the new ma’ams.
So, as I continue to progress through a decade that is fronted by the number “4”, I will come to terms with being called “ma’am”. Perhaps the lovely, polite person who utters the word is in fact thinking that it’s no longer reserved for frumpy middle-age women and should instead be unleashed upon those who are quite something to behold and, also, deserving of such a term.
Let every hair flip be fabulous.
original photo by jxffsxmth|| manipulation by built this cool