My Mother, Myself

When I came home from work today, I put on a pair of hot-pink satin pajama pants and an old Delta T-shirt. Anyone who has heard of my sorority knows that I look a mess – Delta’s colors are crimson and cream. I tied an orange scarf on my head and slipped into a pair of worn Daniel Green house shoes; they’re a low mule with a thick band across the top. I made a funny face for my four-month-old, Elyse, and she laughed. When I saw myself in the full-length mirror, I had to laugh along with my daughter. I had turned into my mother.

Momma wears equally embarrassing ensembles around her house. Cheetah-print robes and stripped socks. Flowered housecoats over old plaid skirts. Faded green sweatshirts and purple pants, all while wearing her infamous Daniel Greens. When I was a kid, I swore that I would not wear such get-ups. But years later, here I was.

When this transformation occurred, I cannot say. It seems as though just yesterday I was a hip and happening single girl, ready to take on the world. But that must have been a long time ago, because I doubt that anyone uses the term “hip and happening” anymore. A friend of mine once said that she believes we resist our mothers’ influence until we are about 27, and then we just give in. Why is that? What do we learn at that point that allows us to accept our fate?

As a little girl, I did everything I could to be like my mother. I even remember that I tore up my toy sewing machine in an attempt to make a fur coat like hers. We wore complimentary, but not matching, outfits on Easters and Mothers Days.

Complimentary, but not matching. Of course that all changed with I hit those defiant teenage years. I juggled being stubborn, high-strung, and moody with trying to define myself through fashion. My clothing choices waffled between the homely and the weird. One day I would be searching the racks at a junior’s department, and the next day I would be riffling through Momma’s closet. The results were interesting, to say the least. Every now and then, people would say that I had my mother’s eyes. I tried not to notice.

I tried everything from track suits to business suits while in college, and I settled on a simple wardrobe once I hit my mid-20s. Tailored pants and shirts in solid colors (no prints), and I started to build a unique collection of shoes and purses. Meanwhile, my mother took jungle prints to a whole new level, matching cheetah-print accessories and separates with basic brown and black separates. In spite of my best efforts, people were starting to say that I looked more like Momma than ever. I claimed not to see it.

When I found out that I was going to have a baby last year, I started thinking a lot about motherhood in general, and I realized that some of Momma’s characteristics had long-ago slipped into my personality. We have the same inflections in our voices, the same way of cutting our eyes around, and we both fold our hands across our chests in satisfaction when we know that we have the upper hand in an argument. And my determination and outspokenness are growing by the day. People say that we have the same walk, a confident gait that makes people notice you when you enter the room. I can kind of see that one.

Did I accept who I am out of a sense of defeat? No way. I think that practicality starts to set in when you get a bit older. You can’t know someone your whole life and expect that person not to rub off on you. To think so is downright silly. And besides, a part of me is still like that little girl of yesteryear: I think that my mom is pretty cool.

There are still a few differences between us. My mother enjoys an occasional trip to the casino. I prefer an occasional trip to the spa. I love to try new wines. My mother loves to find new ways to mix a stiff strawberry daiquiri. And we still don’t agree on the uses of cheetah-print in a wardrobe.

As soon as I finish posting this blog, I’m going online to look for some Daniel Greens. My pair is almost worn out. I think I’ll get a pair for my mother, too. Complimentary, but not matching, of course.

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