I knew it would happen sooner or later. It was predictable and cliché that at some point once I reached adulthood I would become my mother. I shouldn’t act like that is a dreadful thing to become. Really, it isn’t. There are far worse things that I could imagine becoming than a replica of my mother: a member of the crime scene cleaning crew, the port-a-potty collector or that person at the zoo who has the horrible task of helping an elephant with its constipation issues. If you don’t know how this is done then I dare you to Google it. See – it is really horrible, right? Who would want to be that person? Really, there could be far worse things to be than my mother.
My mom is a kind and generous human being. She is one of the most selfless people that I know. It actually makes me nauseated at times, but perhaps that is a symptom of jealousy. The ease at which she gives her empathy to people is something that I lack and when I do try to be empathetic it comes off raw and swollen, rough around the edges and unpracticed.
I think that I was so shocked to find that I had the capacity for turning into my mom because for most of my life I have been my father’s daughter. Not daddy’s little girl. Let’s not be mistaken. Much of my late childhood and adolescence I feared and loathed my dad. He could be a hard nut to crack. Only as an adult have I started to understand and appreciate him more. No, I am my father’s daughter because I am a host for the same detrimental traits he possessed – quick-tempered, stubborn, and unwilling to concede defeat. When I looked at my dad the same face staring back at me was more than just genetics, but a mirror that reflected everything that was the same between my dad and me.
My mistake was that I overlooked the reflection my mom and I shared. But, beginning with the birth of my first daughter there were clues that I was on my way to becoming my mother. There were tiny shades of my mom at first that filtered into my expressions. Other people could see this, but not me. When I over-indulged my toddler, my husband would say, “You are just like your mom. You buy clothes for no particular reason than they look cute on the hanger. What’s the point?”
I shrugged this first clue away. So what? What was wrong with giving your child whatever you could give them? This notion would come back to bite me hard and deep on the ass years later when giving children what they wanted turned into iPads, cell phones, and vehicles. But at that moment I ignored my husband’s warning. I was not my mother.
Motherhood continued to walk me in the direction of becoming my mother; especially when parenting became less about covering the electrical outlets and instead child-proofing the outside world. Once an advocate of openness and freedom, I found that this was easier said than done when I became the censor monitoring and, sometimes forbidding, certain television shows, books and music. I heard the little voice in my head whispering to me, quite victoriously, “Never saw that one coming, huh? You handled that just like your mother would have.”
That incessant voice wouldn’t stop following me around, pointing out how I was turning into my mother. It taunted me when I told my daughter she couldn’t wear make-up like her friends because she was too young. It said, “So, what happened to openness, peace, love, freedom, and all that new age parenting non-sense that you swore you would apply to your parenting?”
I’ll tell you where it went. It went straight out the front door and hopped a taxi straight to the Land of Because I Said. If that wasn’t a clue that I had become my mother then I was more stubborn than even I thought I was capable of being.
I had a swarm of examples that could illustrate how slowly my mother’s traits were catching up to me; the reluctant off-spring unable to accept that I was a product of both parents. But then just last year or so I reacted to a situation that left me unable to deny the inevitable had occurred.
I was talking to another woman, someone I casually know, but not well enough that I can even remember her name. I know. Sad, but a trait I get from my mom as well. I simply forget the name. Mom, on the other hand, chooses to make-up names and then play it off like we are all crazy and she had it right all along. In that way, I am not my mother. Anyway, I am talking to this woman about the recent closing of a couple of local Border’s stores.
“I feel horrible,” I say. “I know it is silly to think this, but I resisted using a Kindle for a long time and now that I started using one I feel single-handedly responsible for these stores closing.” Note to reader – I am not a narcissist. Just joking around, trying to be clever. Another trait I get from mommy.
Woman, whose name I can’t remember, responds “I love my Kindle, too. But I heard that it isn’t the Kindles and e-readers killing these stores. It is the success of Amazon.”
And then it happened. I snickered and boisterously letting go of my filter said, “Well, hell! I use Amazon all the time. So there you go. I murdered Borders!” What came next was inexcusable, but genetically unpreventable. I reached out and with the back of my hand, slapped this woman on the upper arm.
Oh my God! The world did that cheesy, slow-motion movie effect. I looked at my hand that had just broken through a stranger‘s personal space. I replayed the words that came out of my mouth. And, where did that silly snicker come from? That voice came back and laughed, “It’s DNA, baby.” The woman left, but I stood where I was staring straight ahead struck with the evidence that I had become my mother.
Really, there are a lot worse things that I could be other than my mom. And quite frankly, I have a long way to go before I can one hundred percent claim total transformation. But one thing is for certain . . . I am my mother‘s daughter for better or worse.