Maybe it’s because I was old enough to remember my mother turning 30, but 30 is when I began to notice how much like my mother I am.
Mostly it’s mannerisms. We sound alike, act alike, and exclaim in the exact same way.
This completely freaked me out of course. It made me feel so old, so much like a parent. Even though by 30 I’d been a parent for 13 years. But seeing my own mother in me made me see 30 from a kid’s perspective. In a kid’s mind, there are babies, kids, grown ups, and old people. That’s about it. And from where I was sitting at 30, I was in the grown up seat.
After months of denial, then freaking out after I did accept it, I began to love the things in me that were like her. They made me feel connected to her in ways I never had before. It was a sweet and personal connection that no one but her and I (and maybe my sisters) could understand. We shared an essence, so to speak.
When I saw the connection, I started apologizing. Asking forgiveness for not allowing her to be a person and not realizing that parents don’t just wake up perfect the minute they have kids. Realizing how great of a mother she’d been. Consistent, involved, and nurturing. Being like my mother was a great gift to me.
That was almost 3 years ago. But the past 6 months, as I’ve learned more and more about my personality and tendencies I have started seeing my father in me. Again, I initially denied this, and then freaked out, and am now coming around to accepting and loving it.
I feel humorously connected to him when a good blues or jazz song comes on, and I fall in love with it, or I get geeked out about a psychology concept or nonfiction books. I should have known this would happen, as years ago I decided the person in my extended family I was most like was my father’s father, but for some reason I never saw those traits were in my father as well. Now that I’ve conceded, I just send him a copy of whatever non fiction book I’ve just enjoyed.
Then last night something amazing happened, which is why I’m writing about this now. My oldest daughter was telling me about a conversation she was having with a friend. This friend was talking about how ridiculous and hateful religious people are, etc, etc… And my daughter (though she is not religious) began to present the opposing argument offering an alternative point of view and why someone would follow a religion and fear opposing views. She couldn’t just sit there and let someone be called “wrong”. She had to argue that everyone does everything for a reason.
As she was relaying this to us she stopped and laughed. Then exclaimed, “Oh my God I’ve become my mother!” We all laughed, but it meant a great deal to me.There is nothing sweeter than to realize you have inherited bits of your mother. Click To Tweet
For years when she has presented strong arguments to me, I have offered the opposing view, no matter what it is, so that she can see that the world isn’t made up of good people and bad people, but that everyone does what they do for a reason, and that those reasons are multi dimensional so she should consider that she may or may not have the “right”.
I’ve challenged her ideals with reality, and asked her if change can truly happen when we’re only looking at ideals. I’ve made her cry when I forced her to ask questions outside her comfort zone or challenged her to relinquish her feeling of control to accept that we may not have it all figured out yet.
This has caused great frustration in her towards me, and I’ve often wondered how it has affected her thinking. But in addition to this conversation she had with her friend, she also told me in the car on our way home from her school the other day, that when her astronomy teacher calls people who believe in something other than what’s been “proven by science” uneducated and inferior, she loses all respect for him. She can see his arrogance and lack of knowledge, because he believes everything has already been figured out. Whereas she believes the universe is full of unlocked mysteries that are just waiting to be discovered.
And I see myself in her. And my mother, and my father, and my grandfather who had books piled all around his den. I smile because that’s what I wanted her to get from me. I didn’t want her to get the early bits of me when she and I were both babies trying to figure out this world. When I was stuck, and boxed, and my light was out.
I wanted her to love herself, and not fear things that were different than her, because their personalities and beliefs don’t define her. I wanted her to be free. I wanted her to see the world and the people in it as real and beautiful and full of wonder and possibility.
And she does.
Now that is an amazing thing.