When You Become Your Mother

canstockphoto3193594It’s an odd little thing in our family. All the women, were they men, would be suspected of bomb-plotting or weird porn habits or at least highly awkward social skills. The highly awkward social skills is an actual genetic trait in our family, apparently. A distaste for technology, reclusive living, books or dogs as best friends – classic signs that you will be my mother. Add in a British accent, a predilection for salacious crime novels, a subtle, disapproving pursing of the lips and you will be my grandmother.

For years, I lived blithely with the delusion that I was none of those things. After all, I didn’t marry or have kids young. I joined the Army, set out on my own, made friends along the way, got a college degree, drove in the big cities, married a man who wasn’t abusive, had a kid who wasn’t a surprise or a burden – I was as different as could be. Except I loved my books and my disapproving lip pursing. I could tell myself that mostly, I wasn’t them.

canstockphoto11189770And what was so wrong with alienating all your children, living in seclusion, having awkward exchanges with people who laughed uncomfortably at your dry humor? Why shouldn’t oddly-named dogs and weighty tomes be your friends? Because any child knows that whatever your parentage is, it is completely messed up and you never want to be whatever that is. I’ve met the rare people who adore their parents and I do my best to avoid them at parties.

Over the last year, I’ve had occasion for more social interaction than I think should be necessary for human existence. My façade is slipping. I’ve become slightly more brusque and thoughts that I’d normally keep to myself are leaking out all over the place. I’m alienating people. Isolation is starting to hold appeal. I might adopt a dog and name it Herbal Tea. I have a bestie that is about 530 pages long.

Conversations with my mother have changed. I’ve apologized a lot, because now I get it. There were years when I mocked and teased her about the pack of dogs she had in tow or the fact that she wouldn’t be discovered, if she died, until the smell wafted down the street and one of her dogs wandered down the sidewalk with a pelvic bone. Seriously, we both think that idea is funny. Birds of a feather make macabre jokes together and all that.

Now that I’ve come to this knowledge, I feel that it should bring a certain level of empowerment and freedom. No longer constrained by who I think I should be, I can comfortably settle into who I am. My daughter has already begun to mock me. I’m so proud.

51 Comments on “When You Become Your Mother

  1. Funny that you write this. Recently, few times, I had stopped doing what I was doing and even said it aloud – This is exactly like how my mom would do or say …and I was appalled by that. What a cramped feeling.

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    • Ha – I had moments like that, too. Actually a little horrified at the time. On the other hand, we are not replicas (we tell ourselves) and likely add our own quirks to that swampy gene pool. My daughter will likely be WAY cooler than I ever could be.

      Liked by 3 people

      • 🙂 True Michelle…what I found funny in those incidents was, growing up I had promised myself I shall never do how my mom does and yet ,in that moment,(and as you said adding my quirks to it) I am my mom …

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  2. Chuckle. I also did everything I could to not be my mother but anger leaked out all over the place. Often embarrassing. Don still is from time to time. Not being a parent I don’t think I ever did “get” my mother and her mothering style except to be able to vividly imagine I’d have been a truly horrible mother and that it is a great gift to the world that I never became one. I have finally forgiven her, and feel softly towards her, which has nothing to do with her, but is a gift to myself.
    Alison

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    • It’s only been in recent years that I’ve started to appreciate our oddball and shared personality quirks. Like most mother-daughter relationships, especially ones that originate where ours did, it has been complex and very difficult at times. Aging and/or parenting have a way of changing or softening or shifting our perspectives. But you’re right about who it truly benefits. Glad you have found your own way.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I have the same opinion about myself as a potential mother, Alison. While I might have done a better job at it than my own mother, I couldn’t justify playing genetic roulette with a tiny human being. Finding out later that I was bipolar only made me more grateful for my decision.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In the last few months I’ve acknowledged that I’m becoming more like my mother every day. She was such a hermit, happy to be by herself, with her books. When I was younger this seemed wrong to me, but now I’m beginning to realize that the woman was onto something good. Long live introverts, eh?

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    • Indeed. I thought that I was suffering from some sort of social anxiety disorder for the longest time, because I’d feel so irritable after prolonged people exposure. It’s really about needing solitude to feel centered, like any run-of-the-mill introvert.
      If only we could live like turtles or hermit crabs – carrying around a shell of solitude to retreat into whenever needed! Instead, having a moody personality or spraying out unfiltered thoughts seems to do the trick.

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  4. Lol and yes. I was clothes shopping one day a few years back. (It’s not something I do often, the clothes shopping, so I remember this day clearly.) and I happened to look into the dressing room mirrors. I think there were three of them, so I could conveniently see myself at all angles.. and instead of myself, I saw my mother disapproving. Lol. My stomach lurched a little. I see myself in this post, but instead of dogs, there are two cats. I think this happens to all of us daughters eventually. We become our mothers. We have NO control. And worse, one say last week, I was going through TV channels with the remote late one afternoon, and I discovered.. POP TV, and same day episodes of the Young and the Restless. I used to watch that with my mother when I was 10. Now I’m kinda hooked. And, (gack!) when we were talking on the phone the other day, we DISCUSSED AN EPISODE! It’s over for me now…

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    • Ha! You reminded be about the other thing I used to tease my mother about. She loves wearing bright neon colors, much to the embarrassment of her teenage daughter (me), who did not like to draw attention. Of late, I find myself drawn to bright colors. I’m pretty sure it will be a year or two that nothing will be matching and I’ll just look like I’m on a road crew. My daughter will be so humiliated.

      I have cats as well, but cats and dogs all fall under the animal species “butt sniffers”, so I think they qualify. I could act all highbrow in regards to your soap operas and say that my mother and I are all about books. But then we find farts hysterically funny. No class at all.

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  5. Yup. And not just mom, either. Lately, I have begun to sound like my long-dead aunts, too. And like my mom, the aunts are growing on me as they come out of my mouth more and more often.

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    • Whenever I use the word “proper”, I’m channeling my grandmother who would definitely look askance at me for writing about her. I’d channel more of my female relatives except that the whole antisocial hermit thing means I haven’t met most of them.

      Liked by 1 person

    • My mother, for all the battles we’ve fought over the years, does indeed have a good sense of humor. She’s similar to you in that volunteering at shelters meant that she has given one old dog after another a new home. It’s slightly pathological, but the dogs don’t care and have very good lives with her.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hahahahaha, I am pathological!!! It seems inconceivable that we have created a world where the animals we love the most are so expendable, so I totally “get” your mom!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Mocking is good. My son does that freely with me. That’s empowerment. The phone conversation only gets interrupted if he mentions the word “old”. The signal just goes off. Nice writing 🙂

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  7. *snort* hysterical. Though, I can tell you that the dogs are unlikely to eat you. If you have cats however, they’ll start in before the body is cold. Ask a cop, they can confirm this. And you rock, alienated acquaintances and all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very funny information. There’s an old film from the 1970s about cats who eat people. Freaked me out for many years and I eye my own two furballs with suspicion, especially around meal times.

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  8. Found out how to follow, yes!
    Should be proud, but never better than the day she’ll ask your opinion, as did my daughter, after the birth of my first grandson. Funny how we can actually grow smarter in their eyes. LOVE your voice!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. hello,

    That’s nice article! In Cambodia women do harder work than due to our culture. Men go outside to earn for living while women are expected to take care households and children. With recent economics, in addition to taking care the house and children, women need to work outside too to support their family; otherwise, can’t survived.

    Thanks,
    Naren

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The other day I put my hands on my hips, tilted my head disapprovingly and said, “Oh for heaven’s sake!” I don’t think I’ve ever said that before in my life. It was simply a direct channeling of my mother, body language, tone, and phrase. Yikes.

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  11. The apple never falls far from the tree. What goes around, comes around. Pick your favorite metaphor. They all apply.

    I see that you’ve been PF’d. 10,000 congrats! I haven’t seen anyone FP’d that I “know” in quite some time.

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  12. You really know that you are turning into your mother when you wake up from a deep sleep and feel for a minute second that you are your mother. I know this sounds odd but it has happened to me, it is quite shocking! Time travelling back, my father told me that I had an uncanny resemblance to my mum, when I was born. I looked like a mirror image of her, and the older I get the more like her I seem to be…. !!

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    • I’ve never resembled either of my parents, which led to a childhood suspicion that I was adopted. My paranoia aside, now there is a resemblance to my mother that aging has only emphasized. I’m not sure how I feel about that!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I was going to write about this. But now I think I won’t. You’ve described it perfectly. I am too much like my father. Too easygoing, too naive, too forgetful and very much prone to embarrassing babbles. I have tried to change but it doesn’t seem to go away. And the more I tried to be different the more I acted like him. It is terrifying at times. So now I have stopped bothering with it. I think it really must be genetic.

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    • Life becomes a tad easier when you stop trying to be different than who you are, genetically or otherwise. I try to remember that for every quality I seem to emulate, there is something positive on the flip side. For you, maybe it’s that people feel more comfortable around you or that it makes you more compassionate to others. It’s worth thinking about.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. You made me laugh out loud with this one – I’m quickly gonna read more of your blogs…

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  15. I love this, so well written! I too thought I was rebelling against my genetic disposition. I unfortunately have my father’s temper and my mother’s general anxiety. I like to think that I am taking the genes in a more sensible direction where they will eventually evolve into a more calm and more cerebral Spock-like state somewhere down the line . . . but who knows.

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    • “taking the genes in a more sensible direction” – I like to think that I’m doing that as well, but I’m afraid the strength of that conviction will only show up in my child. I still get derailed by the cacophony of inherited disordered thinking, but I always remind myself awareness is the first step.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. That pelvic bone tickled my funny bone!
    I don’t think I’m recluse worthy yet, but some days I wonder. Was in a crowded grocery store last weekend, and remember looking around and thinking “where did all these damn people come from?” At that moment I was hoping they’d disappear in a puff of smoke.
    I think it’s difficult avoid becoming a “lite” version of one of our parents.

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    • Glad I could make you laugh. There’s a moment when you just let go and accept “okay, this is who I am” and it feels like you’ve been holding your breath for a very long time. I’m finally at that point and it’s a relief.

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