Last week, I got dressed for work in the morning, took out the fish from the freezer, emptied the dish washer, and poured myself some pumpkin spice flavored coffee in my travel mug as I grabbed my oversized handbag and dashed out the door. After a fun day at work, I came home, marinated the fish, put away the clothes I took out that morning while deciding what to wear, and started figuring out what else I was going to cook for dinner. Correction, I turned on my kindle and browsed what was new in the world of dresses and shoes. Then, I put on some salsa music via Pandora and started cooking. For a quick second, I thought about what had happened since I came home from work and came to a simple conclusion. I am turning into my mom after all.
From my morning routine to squeezing in some seconds to browse the latest fashion trends, I see my mom in the mirror and I see her in my mannerisms. I notice it when I’m twisting my hair in circles with my finger, an automatic gesture she has been doing my whole life. I see it when I’m putting on make-up and notice the freckles I recently developed on my nose. I see it in the physical sense and I am beginning to recognize subconscious behaviors that go beyond the physical traits.
You spend your formative years telling yourself that you will do things differently from your parents. And then, one day when you’re living with your husband in a completely different city and responsible for your own self, you begin to suspect that a change is occurring. Maybe what your mom was saying all those years wasn’t that far-fetched. Then, you catch yourself wiping the water around the sink so it looks spotless or checking your work email at home even though you’re technically off the clock. Your husband has a cold and you find yourself immediately boiling water for chicken soup. You kiss his forehead to check his temperature, tuck him in tight, and look for some NyQuil while trying to convince him that he NEEDS to see a doctor immediately to have someone listen to his chest. All of a sudden, a metamorphosis has occurred. All those years of your mom taking care of you and putting your needs and wants before her own have influenced you on such a deep level that you never even saw is coming. Now you are the caretaker and the woman of the house. Slowly but surely, you have become your mother.
I have been noticing recently that some of my behaviors closely mimic those of my mom. For example, I don’t really function well until I have a cup of coffee in the morning. I can’t go to sleep if there are dishes in the sink. I wear heals everywhere I go, including baseball games (they were wedges!) I never wear sweatpants outside the comfort of my apartment. My use of Windex goes way beyond actual windows: kitchen counter tops, bedroom dressers, you name it. If it’s a flat surface, it must have been in contact with that magical solution at some point in time. I watch interior design shoes on HGTV for inspiration. If someone stops by our apartment, I offer them coffee, tea, wine, water, fruit, cake, pie, the earth, the moon, and the stars. Lastly and most importantly, I defend my family to the core, whether they are right or wrong and wait until we’re in private to tell them how I really feel. For example, “where is J? We were supposed to be at the restaurant half an hour ago.” My reply? “He is obviously doing something extremely important and he’ll get here when he gets here.”
As I get older, I catch myself repeating some of the very same things my mom used to say but now, I get it. Growing up, I used to think she was too strict and I desperately yearned for more freedom. I would always provoke her and ask, “Weren’t you ever 15? Didn’t you ever want to be independent without someone telling you where you can’t go and what you can’t do.” I used girls I knew whose parents were more like friends as examples and questioned why my parents couldn’t be more lenient. Now, I find myself thinking that when J and I have kids, I’ll also be a protective mom and can only hope that eventually, my kids will get it too.
I think I must have went through the same stages most girls go through with their mothers. As a child, you depend on your mother for basic survival. As a teenager, you view your mom as a no tolerance guard at a maximum-security prison. As an adult, you call her four times in one hour as you learn to make a stew for the first time. You miss her when you’re flipping through the latest issue of InStyle and wonder what she thinks of those pointy-toe wedge boots you’re thinking about buying. I’m not quite sure at what point the gears in my mind turned but I am my mother’s daughter. I spent the majority of my teen years thinking of what I will do differently when “I grow up.” Now, I spend the majority of my time thinking how right she was and how whatever she did or said got me to where I want to be in life.
I used to roll my eyes when my mom would tell me to sit up straight. Now, I thank her for my good posture (most of the time). I would get embarrassed when my mom would lick her finger and wipe a schmutz off my face. Now, I actually catch myself doing the same exact thing with J. I would get frustrated when my mom came home late or turned on her laptop at 10pm to see what was going on at work. I can’t help but laugh at the irony of the situation when I do the same thing. Now, I understand that drive to succeed and make your mark in the world. My mom makes me want to do more and be better, ideas that I learned from watching her.
The truth is if someone ever thought I was like my mother, it would be a huge compliment to me. She is beautiful, intelligent, loving, stylish, funny, thoughtful, incredible, charming and everything I aspire to be. She consistently puts her family’s needs before her own and as I was growing up, she was always willing to have less in order for us to have more. When I’m faced with a difficult choice or not quite sure of where to go from here, I think about what my mom would do and that typically leads me in the right direction.
I should mention that as I was cooking scallops with one hand and removing the fish from the oven with the other hand, the smoke alarm went off, causing a loud shrieking noise to permeate my apartment and almost disturb my little niece who was relaxing and enjoying her new surroundings. My point in mentioning this is that though I am slowly turning into my mom and starting to exhibit many of the same behaviors that make my mom the fantastic person she is, I have a long way to go before I earn a ‘domestic diva’ apron of my own.