Monday, December 6, 2010

OMG! Are You Your Mother?

Someone handed me a picture of myself. Well, of me standing with one of my delightful offspring. Are you like me? When someone shows you photos, does your laser-gaze hone in on your 2D simulacrum with excruciating perception? "Oh!" You groan. "My eyes are all wonky. And has my nose always been that crooked? What in the world am I looking at? What am I eating?"

(There exists, in my family, a modern day Ansel Adams whose life work seems to be capturing his family eating on film for posterity. If one were to find his cache of photos in 100 years, it will seem to that anthropologist that we are always eating. And...maybe we are....Anyway...)

Someone gave me a picture. And I honed in on that film version of myself. I did not, for once, gasp in horror about my weight or my weird nose. No. This time, I gasped because staring at that camera was not me mother!

Can you hear the Hitchcockian scream emanating from the earth? That's me, recognizing, not for the first time, that I am, slowly and surely, becoming my mother. Hands on hips, feet splayed, eyebrows cocked in coming disapproval or something.

I'm fairly sure every woman has this moment of maternal cloning horror. All the things that drove us crazy about our mothers have somehow seeped into our DNA, turning us from the hip, intellectual young women we once were (because we were, okay?) into the woman who nagged us to clean our rooms, who pondered our outfit choices with, um, let's call it diplomacy, who reprimanded, scolded and chided.


There's always a but.

That's not all my mother was, and I'd make a bet that yours wasn't either. Sure, we had our moments, when my teen self, rife with hormones and the glittering brilliance of youth and she, the wise and thoughtful woman, argued about curfew and boys and phone calls. But, my mom also was my biggest fan. She still is. My mom told me I could do anything I wanted. She said to try everything I get a chance to do. She let me stumble and she let me fall. Hard. She also picked me up and dusted me off. She put the armor of security on my shoulders and locked it tight. My mom has a knack for saying what I need to hear, not just what I want to hear. And? She was right about almost everything. There are days when I hate that still, but mostly it makes me laugh.

When a word my mother used to say slips out of mouth, when I find myself in a familiar posture or using a certain idiom, I no longer grimace. I give thanks.

What kind of life did you have with your mom? Do you rue the days you know you are turning into her or do you welcome them because she was more kick-ass than your teen self realized?

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