Friday, November 13, 2009

Am I Becoming My Mother?

From the time a female becomes a teenager there's a recurring thought that at some point all women have, "Am I becoming my mother?" Now this thought may come as an "Oh no, I'm turning into my mother", or it may be more positive like "I can cook as good as mom or better."

But for me its been both. Don't get me wrong, my mom was a terrific person and mother. She was a phenomenal cook, a survivor of breast and ovarian cancer, a best friend, shoulder to cry on etc. And then there was the other side, you know the one where your mom calls you on a daily/weekly basis to tell you she saw a cold front on its way while watching the weather channel so you better wrap up or take a jacket to work with you. And the crazy moments she has where she's yelling and screaming and its so loud that you have no idea what she's so mad about.

I'm realizing as I go through MC's pictures in an effort to create some kind of organization as well as a first year photo book that just as my mom did year after year I'm avoiding the camera. And I'm using the same reasons mom used, "my hair isn't done," "just wait until I lose a few pounds", "I'm not wearing any make-up", etc.

And at MC's birthday party after we'd unwrapped all of her presents, I started folding small squares of all of the paper used to put away in a scrapbook for her. If I follow mom's footsteps one day, years later MC will be using some gift wrap and discover these squares of paper that were never labeled or organized.

I didn't even know my mom had saved as much paper as she had until several months after her death. I had given her gift wrap organizer along with rolls of paper for every occasion and bows to a friend of mine that helped me pack up the house. When Christmas rolled around, I got a call telling me that when she opened the organizer to start storing her Christmas paper, etc. she found all kinds of paper that had been folded and tucked away. My eyes got watery when she said there must be paper from the last 20 years that mom had saved and then I began to laugh.

I laughed because it was typical for mom to save things with good intentions. She had in all aspects become a professional pack rat. When we emptied the filing cabinets mom had, we found files on bills, repair work, insurance and family documents, etc. but the bulk of the files were recipes, clippings from magazines with pictures of beautiful furniture or fabulous kitchens, ideas on how to re-furnish an old chair, etc. So I guess it makes sense today when I find myself saving an article I read that seems like a good reference, clipping recipes and cute pictures of party ideas for children, etc.

I know there were years where I thought I had a terrible mom, now I find that sad. I wish I could take back some of the things that were said and the four months when I refused to speak to her.

Nonetheless, even with my mom's best traits and she had more than I can name, I still don't want to become my mother. No, I want to be a different mother. Not necessarily better because that would be difficult to judge and probably impossible to accomplish, but different. Maybe I can be a little more hip, more involved with my children's interests, more adventurous and more spontaneous.

There will always be traits and habits we inherit from our parents. Some will be good and others will be bad. Am I becoming my mother? Yes, in some senses I am. I'm a mom now and so I've become more sentimental, consumed with laundry and household chores and with a burning desire to improve myself so I can be the best for my daughter and my husband.

I stay awake worrying about things I can't control and thinking about the future. I take way too many pictures and can't decide which ones are my favorites. I've subscribed to almost every parenting magazine on the market and several cooking magazines. I prowl the grocery aisles looking for healthy foods, organic yogurt, all natural snacks and anything with DHA. When I toy shop I do research, extensive research, to learn which toys are the best, which are educational, are they free of toxins, etc.

In some ways I'm my mother and in others I'm the total opposite. But I'm no longer afraid of becoming my mother, instead I'm more focused on becoming the updated version of a phenomenal woman that loved with everything she had. And maybe if I do a decent job, one day my daughter will be somewhere and instead of wondering "am I becoming my mother?", she'll think I hope I'm like my Mom.

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