I was horrified when a woman mistook a 43-year-old man for my son at a doctor’s appointment | tracey folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

I was only thirty years old.

Shortly after my thirtieth birthday, I worked for an agency providing services to adults who needed help with daily living. Part of my job required me to transport and accompany people to their doctor’s appointments.

One afternoon, I drove a gentleman to a doctor’s appointment, and when we arrived at the office, the waiting room looked crowded.

We couldn’t sit together. So I got him comfortably settled in one corner of the room and then moved to the only empty chair. I couldn’t stand near him without uncomfortably lurking over the people sitting in the chairs that flanked him. We sat perhaps six feet away from each other, which was close enough for me to monitor him in case he needed help or support for anything.

A woman sat nearby with a young boy of perhaps five. If he gave up his seat, I’d be able to sit beside the gentleman I was assisting. Of course, I’d never ask him to give up his seat, but his mother did.

“Move,” she told him in a stage whisper.

The little boy looked up at his mother. “why?” I have asked.

“Move so that lady can sit next to her son,” she said.

The little boy obediently moved, and I stood to take his seat.

“Thank you,” I said as I sat in the recently vacated chair. On the outside, I was polite and grateful.

On the inside, I was reeling.

I had, as I already mentioned, just turned thirty. The gentleman I was assisting was nearly forty-four.

Had this woman just mistaken me for the mother of a forty-three-year-old man?

And it is. Yes, she had.

Was I mortified?

The answer to that question is also yes. I was horrified.

I can’t remember how long I waited in that waiting room before the nurse finally called us into the inner sanctum. However long it was, it was too long.

All I could do was think about the life choices that had brought me to that moment.

Was my outfit fun and youthful? No, it was not.

Was my face bright and dewy? No.

Was I wearing nicely applied makeup? No.

Was it my fault I was looking like I could be the mother of a forty-three-year-old man? Clearly.

I want to reiterate that I was only thirty years old at the time. I was not yet a mother. I was not even close to being a mother. And yet, this woman saw me and thought, “That looks like the kind of person who would have a forty-three-year-old son.”

It’s a testament to how awful I must have looked that day.

Don’t get me wrong. A woman can be a mother and look amazing. A woman can be a mother of a forty-something-year-old man and look amazing.

However, if a thirty-year-old woman is being mistaken for the mother of a forty-three-year-old man, she probably doesn’t look amazing. Just saying.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Were you ever mistaken for an older person? Comments are welcome below.

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