When do you officially become your mother?
The other day as I rinsed out a zip-lock baggie, I decided I was dangerously close.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother and certainly consider us close. I have often said I wouldn’t have been able to raise four children without all of her help, support, guidance, etc.
Our oldest baby was a month old before I ventured out of the house with him alone. I was textbook-prepared for a baby, but not at all ready when the real package arrived.
My mom was instrumental with helping me develop confidence in my mothering skills. She also taught me, as they got older, that sometimes the only thing a mother can do is to pray for her children — especially during those teenage years.
There is no greater comfort than calling your mother when a baby is sick or when you just think you can’t go on. There were times when I would just say, “Can you please come over?”
No explanation was necessary and she never needed a thank you. For all of those things and countless others, I am eternally grateful.
So back to becoming your mother.
Anybody who knows the two of us would agree that in many ways we are polar opposites.
For example, I am, and always have been, extremely organized. My mom? Not so much.
Cooking all day is pretty much nirvana to me. My mom loves when I send her leftovers.
I love gardening and spending all day digging in the dirt. My mother says giving her a plant is giving the plant a death sentence.
I learned to can last year and found I loved it. My mother grew up on a farm and said canning was more like a punishment than joy. You see the pattern here?
What are our similarities? I made a list, another thing I do every day that my mother never does.
We both love people. My children still sometimes cringe when I talk to everybody. I am certain I got this from my mom.
We are both loyal to our handful of trusted friends, as well as to our family. We both love babies and children in general.
I would never have believed it of myself back in college when I had my sights set on being some sort of high-powered business woman. My goal was to live in a high-rise Atlanta apartment, the kind with a doorman.
My goodness, how falling in love changes things.
After meeting Paul when I was 23, there was nothing in the world I wanted more than to get married and have babies. We accomplished those things pretty quickly.
My mother also had four children, and also did so soon after she and my father married.
When it came to raising our children, I started off differently than my mother. I informed my parents that we were never going to spank our children, and would instead use the reasoning techniques experts suggested.
In other words, if little Johnny was throwing a tantrum, it was best to say, “I see you are feeling angry right now,” and “Use your words,” instead of swatting Johnny on his bratty little behind.
So how did that work out for us? I think I made it until our oldest was 3 before I swatted his bottom. And I must say I had never felt better about my parenting techniques than on that day.
To their credit, my parents never said, “I told you so,” when I would admit their ways were, for the most part, better than “new-fangled ways.”
Indeed, it wasn’t long before I found myself repeating things I had heard from my mom … I think I even said them with more conviction.
Phrases such as, “I am not your friend, we can be friends when you are 30,” and “Because I said so.”
How many times did I repeat her saying, “I don’t care how so and so’s parents do things, this is how we do them.”
Another classic was, “When you have children, you can do it your way.”
Now that three of our four children are young adults, it is sure to be interesting to observe what similarities they may have to us.
When our 20-year-old daughter sent me a photo via text of a handful of vitamins she takes every day, I smiled knowing I grew up doing that because of my mom, and passed that on to our children.
I just pray they take our good traits and not our numerous faulty ones.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.