motherhood

On “Turning Into My Mom”

Vintage photo of mother and daughter in sunglasses sunbathing on bench, sixties, Poland

The inevitable has been sneaking into my behavior steadily over the last couple of years. Popping up in my words, preferences, and mannerisms. I didn’t see it coming. Neither did my mother—when she swore it would never happen to her. Yet, she caught herself sounding like her mom. And here it is: I am turning into my mom.

Some ways it’s manifested itself: I bought the same shirt in three different colors. I now prefer high cut wide legged jeans. I guilt trip my daughter. I clean the toaster oven tray—after every single use. I wear crocs, and I like them. I second guess my decisions. I stumble through a handful of different names when calling for my daughters. I throw away their things without asking. I get judgy about their appearance.

I have also noticed that when my two girls aren’t feeling well, placing my hand on their warm foreheads instantly soothes them, like how my mom’s cool hand still does for me. I have boundless generosity for my family, as my mom did for us. I let my girls’ imagination run free, like my mother let mine. I do my best to make them feel special when they wake up on their birthdays, as my mom continues to do for me every single year.

There are traits that I cross my fingers I will inherit from my mom. Her beautiful skin. Her youthfulness, and bright hello when she answers the phone. I hope my phone voice will carry the same cheer and comfort to my daughters. Her chicken soup—may mine be as heart warming and curing. Her big love for her grandchildren and their complete adoration. Did I mention her smooth skin?

I never vowed to never turn into my mother, but I feel both the comfort and hesitation in the moments I realize it’s happening. I am so very lucky to have my mom’s motherhood fingerprint to guide me; but I am cautious to choose the imprints of hers that fit me best. My daughters are young, just four and 6 years old. I am their world and they are mine. But I know we have years ahead of us that will test, pull, squeeze, and stretch our relationship. Luckily, my own growing pain years have (mostly) passed and even grown hazy in hindsight. My mom and I made it through (sorry mom, about those teenage years!). I am a mother now and understand my mom’s perspective so much more.

Still, it’s hard to imagine letting go of my children in the future, the way she had to do with me. Drop them off at a sleepover? Go on an out of town school trip? Driver’s license? Study abroad? No thanks! I’d like to keep holding their small hands when we cross the street for as long as possible. On the other hand, I get a high watching my girls grow into themselves, and such joy in seeing their little brain cogs turn out complex and beautiful questions and ideas. I can’t wait to see what they will become, who they will be. Maybe they will be mothers one day and understand the intensity of it all, the fierce love.

For now, we started practicing crossing our street without holding hands. They walk across and check behind for me. I nod reassuringly and their sweet expressions convey an excitement and budding confidence. I hope that my continued assurance will instill a deep confidence in them that will carry them through their future.

And one day, they may laugh, after they cringe, at sounding or acting like me despite having possibly declared they would never do so. They too, will think of me and figure out what to keep and not. But those moments when they see me in their gestures and words, I hope they will hold them closely, as I do,  and recognize that there’s an enduring love found in turning into your mom.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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