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How One Mom Turned Into Her Mother Despite the Promise She Never Would

It’s been happening for some time now. Years ago, it was the physical signs—my hands, the way I stood with my foot on my other thigh, and frankly, I just look so much like her. So much so that when my husband I were first dating, he saw a picture of her as a young girl and asked why I was in that outfit, thinking it was me.

But, it’s much more than just the physical appearance — it’s the other intangibles that are revealing themselves as I age. Deep breath.

“I Have Become My Mother.” There, I said it. I can deny it all I want, but the evidence is clear:

1. Daily Occurrence — Up and Down the Stairs

Racing up the stairs to retrieve an item. Upon arrival, I glance around at each bedroom, wondering what it is I am looking for. I go back downstairs, and only then do I remember what it was I needed so badly. Sigh.

2. Frequently — Going in Circles

The “If you give a mouse a cookie” syndrome. I need to get my slippers. As I arrive upstairs, I trip over the laundry pile on my way. I grab the pile and place it on my bed. I notice one of the children’s socks in my pile, and go to said child’s room. Once I am there, I see a pile of clothes that needs to be donated. I race back down the stairs for a bag, take that upstairs, and wander from room to room filling the bag with other donated items.

Wow, this is great, so productive. It’s now an hour later, and I descend the stairs. I fall back on the couch and look down — no slippers. Oh right, that’s why I went upstairs. I can’t remember the slippers, but I can remember my mom doing this all the time (and, more notably, thinking that she had “lost it”).

3. Weekly Occurrence — Talking to Myself

Having a thought that I know is my mother’s, yet unable to stop myself from saying it. The evidence: This morning I saw an item I wanted, but couldn’t justify the purchase. My mother would say, “You should treat yourself. You deserve it. If you aren’t good to yourself, who will be?” I circled back to the hat a third time, and  knew I had to have it. As the woman rang up my purchase, I said aloud to no one in particular, “Why not? If I’m not good to myself, who will be?” It took me a minute to realize that it had actually come out of my mouth. I don’t even know what it means, but somehow it made sense.

4. The Pièce de Résistance — The Voice in My Head

I just returned from the grocery store. Every item is generic. “Why pay twice as much for the brand name, it’s such a waste of money,” says the voice in my head.

How did this happen and in such a short time? I was always the daughter, now I am almost always the mother, my mother. I am becoming my mother.

As a kid I remember thinking SO clearly — oh, I’ll never do that (my kids have now adopted this as their favorite phrase).

Turns out, I am doing it — daily, blindly and yet, purposefully.

All of a sudden, the things that didn’t make sense, now make sense. She was mothering in the best way she knew how — juggling three kids, a husband, work, community obligations, family, and friends.

And now, many years later, it’s crystal clear. And I turned out just fine, right?

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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