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Becoming My Mother: I Told Myself I Wouldn’t But I’m Just Like My Mother

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 (“tree pose”), 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 “get up” she was wearing, 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, knowing my mother would say it if she were standing next to me, 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?” As I circled back to the hat a third time, I 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 own 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 Silverman

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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