Sunday, February 17, 2008

Like Mother, Like Daughter?

I drove my kids to school in my pj’s today. Actually, in a pair of velour sweats and the long sleeved t-shirt that I slept in last night and wore all day yesterday. I feel as if I have finally arrived!

People always talk and write about becoming their mothers, but I wasn’t sure it would happen to me. My mom died suddenly when I was 18 and she was just 46. For almost 20 years, there has been a gaping hole in my heart and in my life felt most acutely on important days, but ever present in the mundane as well. I was never sure if I would turn into my mother, having only been with her for 18 years, especially since I realized I have now lived longer without her than with her.

I won’t try to describe my mom too much in this entry—there is no way to capture her in so few words—but I will tell you that she was the center of my life. A perfect blend of security (a mom who acted like a mom), zaniness, and strength that allowed me to love and respect her, even while rolling my eyes at her during those teenage years. She had a strong faith in God and a warm acceptance of others that drew others toward her.

Since becoming a mother, I have heard “mom-isms” come out of my mouth numerous times. “Goodness gracious” and “sweet potato” are two of the most common. When I pull out of our neighborhood onto a busy street every morning, I tell the kids we need to “goose it!” to get the car up the hill. In the most pleasant voice I can muster, I tell the kids to “hop up!” every morning even though those were the two most dreaded words of my childhood. I also use the phrase, “the other day” liberally, much to the annoyance of my six-year-old daughter. “It wasn’t the other day, mom! It was like two months ago!” This morning, when I told the kids to “hustle their bustles, I knew I was indeed, my mom.

My school drop-off attire just cinched the deal. I remember being mortified when my mother would wear the same clothes two days in a row. As a teen I changed clothes multiple times a day, from my matching headbands and earrings down to my colorful flats, so I couldn’t see why she couldn’t dig a little deeper into her closet for some variety. One year, after she broke her toe, she added wooden clogs to the look because she found them quite comfortable. Yikes. We may be used to seeing clogs today, but in the color-drenched, shoulder-padded, big-haired 1980’s, I thought my mom looked like a hippie throwback in her clogs and socks—bent on embarrassing me. Little did I know I’d feel the same way about my brown velour sweat pants as she did about her teal ones. I didn’t know how comfy it would be to drive the kids to school in my slippers (clogs, of course).

One of the most mortifying phrases she used was to “feel someone out.” Of course I understood she was using the phrase differently than my middle school peers, but I found it embarrassing to say the least. “Lunch on Tuesday? Let’s feel her out about that.” Eeek. I swore I would never, ever let that phrase pass through these superior, dignified lips! Well, the other day, while I was hustling my bustle, I told someone I needed to “feel something out.” Much as I love my mom, I need to wipe that one out of my vocabulary completely before the kids reach middle school. Any suggestions?

I’d like to think that if these phrases and clothing choices wore off on me in those all too short years, some of the important stuff about my mom did, too. I don’t know whether I got her humor, compassion, strength, and acceptance of people where they are, but if I did, I know that my kids, whether I live to 46 or 96, will be better because of it.

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amy said...

our mutual friend (Pam a.k.a. yarnandpaper) led me to your blog and I'm so glad she did. what a beautiful post. I love the humor involved when paying tribute to someone so special.

my "mom-ism" that makes my husband shake his head every time is "now run along!" directed at the kids of course when they're getting wild and crazy. of course the list goes on...and on...

Pamela said...

Your words touch my heart. And make me laugh.

I'm "fixin'" to do lots of things, courtesy of my mother.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I really can't express how lovely it was to read this. As someone who knew your mother, I want to thank you for bringing her memory back to me today.

Unknown said...

I will never forget how I felt when I read your blog tonight, so endearing. I did not have the pleasure of knowing your Mom, but I do know that you are very funny, compassionate, and most assuredly meet people "where they are" in the most loving way. I hope that my daughter can have a playdate with your daughter one fine day with our "grands" so she can see those beautiful qualities in all of the women in your future family.

It was so hard to chose just one of Mama's little sayings, but I guess my favorite was, "Let me see here now". She would say this before attempting anything truly difficult, such as making a delightful dinner in 4 1/2 minutes without food, helping to heal my brother's broken heart from his latest meanie girlfriend, or battling typical 5 pm beltway traffic while simultaneously feeding 5 crazy younguns in the backseat of a beat up ol green Impala.......ah yes, those were the days, she made them "good ol"!

Kris said...

That was very sweet

Cynthia said...

Wow, your entries continue to touch my heart. I love your mom, as did everyone who knew her. (You couldn't not love her!!) And as you said, she was clearly your "center." You were closer to her than any of the rest of us were to our moms. I wish we all could know her now, she was quite a lady.

I'm sure I will carry on some of my mom's sayings, and one I can think of off hand is "Oh, Goodie!"