Why, as women, is our greatest fear turning into our mothers? Maybe it’s just me, but I know that as I entered my 30's and became a mother myself, I started to see some changes in both my appearance and personality. And they weren’t exactly the kind of changes you hope for. It wasn’t that distinguished appearance you gain with years of experience. It wasn’t wisdom nor perspective. It was more like weird habits and idiosyncrasies my mother used to do that made me cringe and facial expressions and gestures that made me stop in my tracks. Have you ever walked past a mirror, feeling great about the outfit you’re wearing, only to catch a glimpse at your reflection and think your mother somehow snuck into your home and is standing behind you? Because there’s no way that person looking back is actually you? Yeah, I’ve had a lot of those moments lately.
It makes me sad to think I’m resisting human nature. We all know that at one point or another, we’ll turn into our parents. We hope that we’ll be new and improved versions of them, but genetics are kind of hard to deny or fight against. There are many things about my mother that I admire. She is extremely hard working, she’s an excellent cook, and she knows a thing or two about finances. But she’s also very harsh, has a pretty hard exterior, and lacks the ability to express emotion. She always waits to speak until the moment after she places food in her mouth. She can slurp anything from spaghetti to mashed potatoes and coffee. She’s a noisy eater. Her makeup is starting to turn orange - either she’s buying the wrong foundation shade or she's just caking it on more heavily in an attempt to cover her wrinkles and blemishes. It’s so orange that I see it on the collar of her shirts. There’s lipstick on her teeth and food stains on her clothes that she just doesn’t see.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that a lot of this is just the natural progression of aging. It will inevitably happen to us all. But none of us want to age. I’m in my 30's but I feel like I’m 25 and likely, always will. The only thing that indicates otherwise is the cracking sound my knees make when I bend down or the amount of time it takes for me to get off the floor after playing with my girls. Your body ages but your mind never does. And so when I see my mother struggling to read her eyeglass prescription (irony at its best) or snapping at my father for something petty, I wonder if that is what I’m becoming, or will one day, become. And is it such a bad thing? Why do we only see the negative attributes of our parents that we swear we’ll never possess? What about the good things we’ve inherited from them - don’t those count?
I don’t think the horror of a woman turning into her mother is a completely personal thing. I think it has a lot to do with our desire to never age or never face the reality that it’s going to happen. One night, not long ago, I was standing at my kitchen sink doing dishes and my husband passed the comment, “You look just like your mother standing there.” FYI husbands: that is NOT what a woman wants to hear. My mother is much shorter than I. She's heavier than me and more hunched over, with much more gray hair. I took it as a complete insult. I was horrified actually. Horrified and furious. My husband quickly tried to recover, explaining that he didn’t mean it in that way. If you ask me, there’s only one way for that to come out, but I let it go. I tried not to be upset about what he said, but instead understand why I was so upset. And it got me thinking about my own daughters.
I never want them to react the way I just had. It saddens me to think my daughters might be appalled by the thought that they’d one day turn into the same woman as me. I want my daughter’s to idolize me, look up to me, and strive to be the mother that I am. Is this possible? I’d like to think so. I try to be an open, approachable, supportive, and loving mother, while also guiding my girls in life. I want them to be independent, self-assured, confident, capable, and intelligent. I try to be encouraging without being pushy. We wall want what’s best for our children, I just think sometimes our efforts can get lost in our approach. I don’t know if the way I’m raising my daughters will mean they’re any less likely to dread the thought of turning into me, but I sure hope so.
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