Growing up, we all promise ourselves we will be NOTHING like our parents. We make mental notes of the way they discipline, the way they humiliate us, and the way they always have a lecture waiting for us in any given situation. I never thought this day would come, but at 28 years old, I find myself looking in the mirror and realizing…I have officially become my mother. I find myself developing similar tastes in things like decor and clothing. (I was anti-floral anything, unlike my mother who pushed colors and patterns on me for two decades, Now, as I peer in my closet, it mirrors that of my mothers. That was just the first traumatizing revelation.)
As I sat having coffee with my girlfriends, who were venting about their love lives, I sipped my latte and the next words out of my mouth were, “Girl, stop ignoring the red flags. If you have any doubt, doubt means NO.” Followed by, “You’re going to have to kiss a LOT of frogs before you find the right guy. Just go play the field.” I think my mother actually took over my body at that moment. I paused in horror after realizing I just gave the same advice I had rolled my eyes at in my teens and early 20s.
Perhaps the most troubling moment I had, and the moment I realized there was no going back, was when I hung up a work phone call and instead of my usual “bye,” to conclude the conversation, I added in the extra cringe worthy and awkwardly high pitched “BUH” before the “bye.” I just said “buh-bye.” That just happened. That is something I have mocked my mother for since the beginning of time. This was just the start of me recognizing all of the behaviors and mannerisms that I have developed over time, making me more and more like my mother. Luckily for me, my mom is incredible. Although she is an easy target for jokes, she is an amazing mother and someone worth emulating.
Although young people begrudgingly take advice from their elders, we need to realize that the more wisdom we let in, the better prepared and efficient we will be. It’s like watching a game of tennis. Imagine watching a tennis match against a young player in their 20s and an experienced 60 year old. The young player will run circles around the older player and may hit the ball with more force. But as they tire themselves out, the older player will be more stationary but have the knowledge and experience to be able to place the ball strategically, preventing the younger playing from returning it. My dad shared this analogy with me, as someone who strongly believes in mentorship and listening to your elders. Speaking of my dad…I have also come to the conclusion that at 28 years old, as I become my mother, I have also married my father.
Something I have always appreciated about my dad is his laid back and calm demeanor. Even during our tense teenage years, as dramatic as we were, my dad always helped calm me down and was able to laugh things off. He taught me to never hold a grudge and to choose my battles wisely. This is something I had always hoped to find in a partner, and luckily I found just that. Someone that balances my more intense and high strung personality, but that is always there to put things in perspective and help me laugh things off. I choose my battles carefully and have learned to let things go (most of the time).
During my childhood, my mom and I would get into yelling matches and argue for hours. My dad would sit there with a straight face, as calm as could be. Fast forward to my first argument with my husband, where I began yelling and interrupting him. The first words out of his mouth in response were “Why are you yelling? Nobody else is yelling here.” And then he made a joke which distracted me from the argument altogether, and we were laughing and kissing a minute later. In addition to their similar demeanor, they both have the best sense of humor and use the same embarrassing words to describe things. Again, luckily for me, my dad is also the best. The traits and behaviors we can’t stand in our parents often creep their way into our adult selves, and the characteristics and traits we admire in our parents end up being what we seek in our partners.
Whether we try to avoid this cliche of becoming our mothers and marrying men like our fathers as we get older, I believe many people fall into the same fate. But once we acknowledge the similarities and accept this fate, we can then continue blaming our parents for all of our faults and shortcomings as we pass the embarrassment onto our future children.
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