Turning into your mother. I was listening to the marvellous new podcast from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Wiser Than Me. Louis-Dreyfus was interviewing the writer and former New York Times restaurant critic, Ruth Reichel. Reichel recounted how she once disguised herself as her mother when she went into a restaurant, wearing a short grey wig and the sort of clothing her mother might wear. But she didn’t just dress like her mother. As soon as she donned that apparel, she started behaving like her too. This vignette reminded me of all of the different ways we become more like our parents as we age. Here’s a post I wrote when my mother was still alive about turning into my mother. Now that she’s gone, I really cherish all the ways I imitate her life.
On occasional Wednesdays I offer tips for adulthood.
I don’t look much like my mother. But as the years pass, I’m struck by the ways in which I’ve come to embrace a variety of behaviors I once not only deplored in her, but fled in horror. Surely, this must be yet another telltale sign you’re a grownup.
So, without further ado: Five Signs You’re Turning Into Your Mother.
Here are mine:
1. I carry a large library book wherever I go. No, not a magazine, newspaper or something otherwise easily folded. But a large—often hard-cover—heavy and cumbersome tome. And, like my mother, I invariably carry this book in some sort of cloth tote bag obtained from a public radio fundraiser or local bookstore that has since gone out of business.
2. I do back exercises. When I was a kid, it seemed like my mother was forever lying on the bedroom floor “wogging” her back. I used to think that was nuts. Now I find myself stretching all the time. And enjoy it.
3. I shop at vintage stores. Oh! How this used to mortify me when she shopped at second-hand stores. They all seemed so down-market with their crowded racks and musty smells. Now, those are the only places I shop, even for funerals.
4. I re-use things. I could always spot a package from my mother a mile off when I was younger. It would arrive in a manila envelope with these giant black magic marker pen strokes all over it where the original address had been crossed out and replaced with my own. Yup, I’m doing that now too. She also re-used tea bags. Tick that box as well.
5. I make lists. My mother is a compulsive list-maker: groceries, errands, phone calls, you name it. I make lists too. But I’ve taken it one obsessive-compulsive step further. I announce my lists. As in “Now, I’m going upstairs…then I’m going to get dressed…then I’ll take out the re-cycling.” My husband really enjoys this. Not. With that sixth sense people develop when they’ve been in a relationship for a long time, he often just admonishes “No Announcements” when I get up from the table, before I’ve even opened my mouth.
Now it’s your turn. What are the things you swore you’d never emulate in your mother (or father) that you now find yourself doing?