Open thread: do you ever catch yourself turning into one of your parents and like it?

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By: glenngouldCC BY 2.0
I spent a lot of time as a teenager wondering if my mom was really happy. How could she be, I wondered, working a thankless job as a teacher, married to a man who worked incessantly, and dealing with two kids who were hell? She never stopped moving — she would wake up at 4AM to work out before her day began, and then go through her daily motions. How could anyone be happy with that?

Now that I am a mother of a one-year-old, I’m realizing I resemble my mom more and more. The only real difference is the man I married, as he stays home with our child most days. That aside, I work my rear off in a job that many would find thankless. My daughter witnesses both of us exercising, working on the house, and she has started helping with the gardening. You know what? I’m happy.

What I eventually realized is that my mother never sacrificed herself to be a mom, just as I didn’t sacrifice myself to be a mom. I went through the partying stage and moved on to where I am now. I went through odd jobs that were soul-crushing to find a career where I plan to stay. I am a design of my own making, often times inspired by my mother, and my daughter will benefit.

What qualities in your own parents are you happy to inherit? — Shelly G

Comments on Open thread: do you ever catch yourself turning into one of your parents and like it?

  1. I recognize a lot of my mom in me – and I’m glad for it now. My mother comes off as uncompromising, aggressive and a little too blunt at times. But I realize that when I saw that, others saw tenacious, assertive and honest. And I understand now why she had to be that way. My mom was one of only a handful of women in Ireland decades ago to actually become a sensei in Karate. She decided to emigrate to the US and build her own training center. She had 5 kids (two with disabilities) and raised us in a way that treated each one as an equal. I used to resent my mom, because I resented being told that I was not working to my full ability. She has this weird ability to see people and know if they are really trying. being told I could try harder didn’t always go over well. But now, I find myself doing the same thing sometimes. I like to think the same guts that made her basically push her way into a dojo in the 70s make me go into court and do my damnest each day. So thanks, mom.

    • It’s inspiring to hear you speak of your mom that way. We are raising our kids to want more for themselves. We want them to not just simply be satisfied with mediocre, but rather want to “strive for excellent; achieve perfection.” We define perfection not as one would think, but instead it’s if you say you are going to do something and you do it, then you’ve achieved perfection. You may not be the best at it, but you said you were going to try and you did. That’s all we can ask.

      I hope my kids realize we want them to be successful individuals as they get older, must like you realize the same from your mom.

  2. My mom is assertive and pushy and questions everything! She asks for extra discounts, returns things all the time, never takes “no” for an answer. She challenges the phone company, the cable company, the bank. She never puts up with getting less than what she wants. As a child this embarrassed the crap out of me. As an adult I am glad I had that model.

    My sister and I even call it “Mom-ing the situation.” As in: “this is not what I ordered, when the waiter comes back I am going to Mom this situation.”

  3. While I await a double-line on my wife’s pee stick, I’ve found myself often questioning if I have the ‘right stuff’ to be a good parent. While my mother is who ferried me to soccer games and cooked 98% of what we eat in our house, it is my father’s qualities that I rejoice in finding in myself.

    He was always more of a mentor, teacher and tinker than parent for me, and now when I am able to explain something complex to a child, I hear his voice in mine. No question is too big, no child too small to say something worth pondering. I remember learning algebra as a young child with him at the kitchen table for one one day, or another where we laid out in a field to watch falling stars…

    When I can explain to the elementary-aged neighbor kids religious verses legal ramifications of marriage while we play with the dogs in the front yard-I know I’m going to do alright with my own.

  4. I never had a dad, so all I’ve got to go on is my mom… and I see so much of her in me. Not to say that I’m not my own quirky, individual person, but even that is a gift from my mother who has always been unashamedly herself and encouraged that in all her children. I see my mother in myself the most when I tell stories or have conversations. She CANNOT simply state a fact– she has to tell the story around the fact. Even while on the stand, testifying in court, the “Please answer yes or no” questions put to her were answered with a, “But it’s not a yes or no answer! You see…” I’ve inherited that, and I don’t mind at all. (Though I’ve also gone enough in the “I’m never going to be like my mother in that way!” direction that I can, in fact, answer a yes or no question directly… sometimes.)

    I have a picture from my wedding day that I absolutely cherish. My mom was doing my hair and makeup and the picture shows us at the same level, facing one another and smiling as she leans toward me. Just our heads and shoulders are framed in the picture, but we look so. much. alike. that it’s spooky! You can just see the love and connection that we share, and it’s beautiful.

    Above all, I treasure the example my mother set for me of tenacity and utter loyalty to one’s children. She fought for us in court, she fought for our survival, she fought for our ability to lead the lives that we want and fulfill what she is certain is a grand destiny. She raised us the absolute best that she knew how, and always tried to grow and become a better person. She never sacrificed her personhood on the altar of motherhood, yet she was (and is!) completely a mother. I don’t know how to explain her. She’s amazing. I’m proud to be like her in so many little ways, and hopefully some of the big ways. I hope that I can be as bold, dedicated, encouraging, and fun as she was when she raised me.

  5. I just like carrying on some classic sayings from my dad:
    “Put a sock in it”
    “Take it easy”

    and mom:
    “You want some huggybear kissyface?”

  6. I mostly take after my Dad, which means:
    – Lateral thinking 😀
    – Fixing things creatively, or turning them into other useful things.
    – Storing things that I might find a use for.
    – Being organised so that I don’t end up with too much stuff, and so that the stuff I do have doesn’t become useless.
    – Experimenting with food, though I do not put sultanas in everything.
    – Reading everything.
    – Willingly sharing knowledge and experience.

    And I really love it. Dad is one of my favourite people and I’m glad that I have gained some of his positive qualities.

  7. I see my mother turning into her mother, and then I see me turning into my mom. All three of us are very intelligent, but also scatter-brained. My step-dad actually had the best analysis on the situation. “Your mother is scary smart, but she’s got so much going on in her head that she can’t always keep track of it all!” It used to bug the crap out of me when, in the middle of a movie, my mom would interrupt “Who’s this guy? Why’s he going in that building? What’s happening?” Now I do it to my husband all the time. Most often its’ because I’ve drifted off into an alternate plot point in the story, only to come back and realize I have no clue what happening. Luckily, my husband loves his mother-in-law, because someday his wife is going to be that woman!

  8. Absolutely. My mother died three weeks ago. We were very close and it’s been devastating. However, I feel like she’s not completely lost to me because of how much of her ethos I inherited. Maybe an odd way of looking at, but I find it very comforting. Memories might fade somewhat, but the personality traits and tendencies that came from her will last me till the day I die.

  9. After my mother’s stay in the mental hospital when I was four, up until I was around 12, my mother was the best. She always knew what to say, what to do, to make you feel special. She homeschooled us kids (only seven of the now eleven kids were born in this time), and she made learning fun. She could play any sport, and she was even artistic. She’d only done one semester at college before marrying my dad and having me, but I believed she knew everything. It’s because of all the things she taught me I am the woman I am today. And even though her mental health took a sudden nose dive and she neglected me and my siblings when we needed her most (and continues to do so), I still want to be the woman she was back then, for those few happy years. And I’m happy to say, I do see myself becoming more like that. I am blessed with the ability to think rationally, and an optimistic outlook on life, something neither of my parents really have, and I am grateful for the other people and books (yes, books!) that helped shape me into what my mother could not.

  10. I was just thinking about this the other day! I think I inherited both of my parents good traits. My mom is assertive, never takes sh*t from anyone, loyal to her friends and listens to her instincts. My dad is hard working, always learning new things and diplomatic. I would’ve gagged when I was younger at the the thought of becoming like my parents, but now I’m very thankful. Thank god I take after them.

  11. I am 22 years old and every day I am realizing just how much my mom and I are alike. Growing up, everyone who knew us told me that I was a spitting image of my dad. Personality wise my dad and I don’t have a lot in common, but our dark skin, curly hair, and glasses is what I assume made everyone say “you’re just like him”. When I turned 18 this all started to change. My mom and I have always had a great relationship and I only wish I can be as successful as my mother is at keeping the line between mom and best friends. As I got older and started to straighten my hair and wear contacts, I noticed that the same people who once said I was a spitting image of my dad were now saying “Okay nevermind, you are your mothers daughter!” I like to think I’m just a perfect balance of genes that looks like my dad with my natural curly hair, or like mom on the days I straighten my hair 😉 Anyways, what this made me realize and start to think about is how much I can already see my mom in my own personality and actions and I’m only 22. I started to notice things like we sit the same way when we’re eating, we both get anxiety on the regular, and not to mention we both LOVE to party. As every other angry teenager out there I used to say and think “i’m never going to be like my mom”. Now just a couple years into my twenties, not only do I appreciate how much my mom and I are alike, but I can not wait to see what other similarities emerge as I continue on my life journey.

  12. I’m a total clone of my mother (apart from my pale burning skin, I got that from Dad). I know that I’m a lot like my mother, and I LOVE IT! If I can be only half the mother to my children that my mother was to me, then I’ll be one freaking amazing mother. LOVE YOU MUM!

  13. I’m an odd mix of my mom (organized, semi-type-A) and my dad (laid-back, laissez-faire). Sometimes, words come out of my mouth in my mom’s voice and it startles me. I once said something in my mom’s exact voice (not realizing it), and all three of my siblings stopped and stared at me in shock. I wonder how much of that is genetics vs. learned…

  14. Not my Mum (as much), but I have often heard my Grandmother’s voice coming out of my face. Funny thing is that Mum says that she thinks she sounds like her Grandmother.
    Do things like that sometimes skip a generation? 😉

    I was raised nearly exclusively by my Mum, and my bio-dad wasn’t around at all after I was about 2 (so I barely remember him) but personality-wise I’m apparently more like him – down to a similar taste in poetry. Score one for genetics.

  15. My mum definitely had a big influence on me. I’m a book worm, enjoy baking (although she prefers to cook rather than bake), and am introverted. I’ve also caught myself explaining the other side of things in a rational manner that drove me mad when my mum did it at the wrong moment but which I appreciate most of the time. It helps to be able to consider other sides to a situation and have it ingrained to think from someone else’s point of view. I also catch myself becoming a craft hoarder (“I should save this jar. I’ll use it for something…”). Mum also taught me to do my research (what else, for a librarian’s daughter?!). I tend to go look things up, try to find my answers, but also know when to ask a person.

    My dad, who has lamented that I am so much more like my mom than him, shared the importance of helping out friends and of doing things yourself. Now with the internet, even if I can’t just call dad for a helping hand, I can sometimes figure out how to do it myself. I’m still not up to doing major construction, but I have no problem getting my hands dirty and pitching in. I like to know how to do things myself just in case I need to. I also have skillz when it comes to licking a plate clean. I think it is also my dad who taught me to just dig in and try doing things. While I’m still pretty phobic about academic failure, in other settings I’m willing to give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out, then adjust and try again. I have just enough caution to know when to stop and consult an expert when I’m going to get in over my head or potentially make things worse (usually).

  16. I am happy to become more like my mother. She is out-going, funny and warm. My father was disciplined and extremely intelligent. He moved here from Mexico, taught himself english and put himself through college in the U.S. I admire them both and and proud to be like them!

  17. My brother calls me “mini mom” because I’ve grown up to be pretty much exactly like her. I know it’ll only get worse when I have children of my own, lol.

    It’s an amazing thing though. My mom is the most amazing woman I know, with raising my 16 year old, non-verbal, severely Autistic, and Downs Syndrome younger sister. She is my inspiration and I’m proud to be anything like her.

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