Mother/daughter relationships are complicated, multilayered puzzles that take a lifetime to put together and my relationship with my mother is no exception. She drives me nuts and I love her dearly all at the same time and I know the feeling is mutual. Our relationship has grown and changed over the years and, even though I am in my thirties, I am pretty sure we are still recovering from my teen years when I openly swore I would be nothing like her and she had to learn to let me go overnight. Now that I am a mother, I have gained an understanding of her perspective. Just recently, my mother sent me a package that included a few letters she had written to her mother when I just a year older than my daughter. As I read the letters, all I could think was... Oh My God... I am my mother.
I know I am not the only one that has had that moment when I am talking to my kid and suddenly I hear my mother’s words and I gasp because I can't believe just came out of my mouth. It’s a cringe worthy moment that is a right of passage for all mothers. The first time it happened to me was with my step-kids. We were driving back home from a trip to the mountains for the 4th of July and there were fireworks going off on both sides of the freeway. I was ohhing and ahhing and pointing out all the "amazing" fireworks only to look back and see my step-kids with headphones on paying me absolutely no attention...just like I did to my mother. I gasped, clasped my hands over my mouth, looked at my husband and said, "Oh my God, I sound like my mom." I have blurted out the words of my mother many times since then and although it has become less gasp worthy over time I still fight giving into it.
For the most part, my mom and I are quite the opposite. She is the hippie type that finds a beauty regiment to be an unnecessary annoyance. I am the girly type that has a standing monthly hair appointment and jumps at any chance to get a mani/pedi. She likes to analyze interactions and decisions while I am a more of a go-with-the-flow kind of person. My idea of a fun vacation involves spa days and lazy afternoons on the beach and she is about to embark on a five-month camping trip.
But the truth is, I have come to a point in my life where I have daily revelations that I am becoming my mother that make it impossible for me to deny the transformation... Every time I open my mouth to fuss at my kids and her words come out, the fact that making dinner without a vegetable gives me anxiety and that I have to have breakfast before I have any other meal even if it’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I use to make fun of my mom for eating pesto and wearing Birkenstocks and now I own 2 pair of Birkenstocks and having a bowl of pasta and pesto to myself sounds like heaven on earth. My mother had the uncanny ability to turn the smallest problem like leaving a permission slip at school into the reason I would be kidnapped in the middle of NYC at the age of 30. I think I told my 10 year old the very same thing the other night when he forgot all of his homework at school. And it doesn't help that my brother and sister will sometimes sarcastically respond to me with "Okay mom!"
Becoming our mothers is inevitable and if you are lucky like me you have a good example to follow. Even though my mother drives completely nuts and seems to have a knack for pushing my buttons, I couldn’t ask for a better mom. She let me be me, encouraged me to stand strong in my beliefs and cleared the way for me to go after what I wanted in life. The more I grow into motherhood, the more I understand my mom and the more I appreciate all the quirks and crazy qualities she had. If I can provide any of the things she gave me to my children then maybe becoming my mother can’t be so horrible after all.
It is so easy to take the fact that my mother is around for granted. There are a lot of women out there that would give anything to have their mothers around. So on this mother’s day I want to celebrate by acknowledging the parts of my mother I see in me and appreciating the qualities of hers I find myself emulating in my parenting. I want to celebrate what she has passed on to me… her courage, strength and honest approach to motherhood. Maybe now I can finally say that I have fully reach adulthood because I can openly acknowledge that I am becoming more and more like my mother with each passing day. So when you hear yourself say "Oh my God... I am my mother," don’t fight it... just tell yourself it is simply a rite of passage.