I'm Turning Into My Mother, and As It Turns Out, I'm Totally Fine With That
Editor’s note: Because one day just isn’t enough, Bustle will be posting essays every day this week about our mothers. Hey, it’s the least we can do. Happy Mother’s Week!
Looking back, I've spent a rather absurd amount of my life desperately struggling against the inevitability that I am becoming my mother. In fact, the comment from friends that I am "just like her" was once a stinging accusation of the highest order. I'd experience a sort of hate montage: Mom yelling in my face; mom bothering me about clearing that mug out of the living room again; mom telling me I should stop messing around and do my homework.
I'd gulp at the comment, nod politely, and move on; the words echoing around my skull like an ominous prophecy I could never shake. My mom wasn't like me. I could never be just like her.
I can remember an evening spent chatting with my dad in high school. As he described my mom and the things they used to do, I grew more and more incredulous. (I think it goes without saying I was kind of an awful teenager at the time.)
I remember snorting. "But you're making it sound like she was...fun. That's so weird." He sighed quietly, looked at me, and said, "She was fun, Dale. She still is." For the life of me, I just couldn't see it. How could someone who made my life so unnecessarily difficult have been fun? Where the hell was that fun now?
It took going away to college for me to realize that pretty much everything I ever resented about my mother was done out of a fierce and intense love for her family, which I now recognize in myself. Not every parent would have unhesitatingly packed their daughter off to Scotland, but both she and my father respected my independence and my desires enough to let me go.
As the months passed, I realized that I wasn't Skyping with my mom every day because I had to, but because I wanted to. She was silly and interesting and in a lot of ways, and perhaps unsurprisingly, she felt the same way about things as I did. I found that not only was she was pragmatic and caring, but she was also a lot of fun after all.
I came to appreciate how her work ethic had ensured the existence of a college fund for me, and that my mental health struggles in high school were dealt with quickly and decisively. Her administrative talents continue to ensure that my father's long term diabetes is well-managed, a gift that means my brother and I don't have to worry about taking care of his health.
As I work to establish myself as a writer, I see more and more of my mother in me. We have the same voice, a similar sense of humor, and a pressing need to be constantly improving. It comes with baggage for both of us — we are both prone to anxiety, intense bouts of moodiness, and lashing out at those who don't necessarily deserve it.
But these days, looking at the way my mother's life has turned out — full of success, friends, and excitement — I've come to believe that if I turn out just like her, I will be truly lucky. And if every girl ends up turning into their mother, well, then I pulled a long straw in the game of life.