The other night, I sat watching the Olympics. My legs rested on the coffee table with a blanket draped over them, my arms half crossed and my chin resting in one palm, my hand holding a wadded-up tissue.

Kind of like this, except without the computer:

My son, a budding photographer, took this photo
My son, a budding photographer, took this photo

I turned to my husband to say something and then looked back at the TV. Suddenly, a flash of memory, of hundreds of memories, appeared so clearly in my mind that it was almost like I was inside it: growing up, I had seen my mother make that same gesture–that blanket-draped, chin-cupped, tissue-wadded, TV-viewing gesture–dozens of times.

It’s common to have those moments when you think, “I sound just like my mom.” I’ve had plenty already. But this was the first time I felt like my mom, like I inhabited her body–the her I knew as a child.

I was already sensitive to the I’m-my-mom feeling because of the wadded-tissue thing. I don’t really remember a time my mom wasn’t plagued by allergies, by the need to exit a conversation posthaste to run for a Kleenex. She’s always had a tissue stuffed in her coat pocket. When we go on walks, if it’s too warm for a coat, she stuffs one up her sleeve. She sleeps with one under her pillow.

I never had allergies, so I never had to deal with the suffering of feeling like a little guy with a feather was up inside one nostril, tickling away.

Until recently. Now–you guessed it–I sleep with a tissue under my pillow. I always have Kleenex in my purse or coat pocket. I keep them in the car and various cabinets. I now spend the first fifteen minutes of every day sneezing in the kitchen.

Also, I now say things my mom always said, things like:

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.”

“Jesus H. Christ.” (A more formal version of the name, for business cards.)

“For Cripes Sake.” (Not sure of the spelling, since I’m not sure what this is.)

“In or out.” (said sternly on summer days when the children exit and enter the house several times per second)

“I can’t keep my eyes open. What time is it? 9:30? Sigh.”

“But you like [insert food]. Just eat it.”

So the other night on the couch was really just the culmination of what I already knew: in many ways, I’m my mom.

How about you? When did you know you were your mother?


25 responses to “Meet My Mom (AKA: Me)”

  1. Carrie Buchanan Avatar
    Carrie Buchanan

    Ah that made me laugh out loud!!! So funny!! I too have found myself spouting off things to my children that my mom always said.
    The day I said, “because I said so” to my 5 year old, I froze, mortified that I had just said to him the phrase I despised so much as a child. The one phrase I said I would never say to my own children.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Ok – that same phrase is my “I’ll never” phrase. I think I slipped once, but it is a struggle each and every time my children whine “Whhyyyyyy????” over and over again.

  2. Cindy Avatar

    Aren’t genetics funny? Or is it nurture? I’m not sure but I have definitely felt this way too. I like the way you described it without the “cringe” feeling that I get. Especially when I realize that I am acting like my father! :-). Love them, but don’t always want to emulate ’em!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Um, yes. Exactly. Love them, but……

  3. Kris Avatar

    My Mom is an interesting character as I find out more everyday. I for sure know I do things that are like her. Who knows? Maybe I am interesting too?

  4. Hallie Sawyer Avatar
    Hallie Sawyer

    Ha! I say Jesus H. Christ all the time but that did NOT come from my mother. 🙂

    I became my mother when I began putting on makeup before leaving the house, no matter what. It drove me crazy as a kid because I thought she was beautiful without it but now I do it. I will say that I often go without it in the summer so I’ll give myself a break there. I wish I could be that person that looks good without makeup but I wasn’t blessed with good skin (read: I don’t drink enough water and laid in tanning beds and baked in the sun all my youth).

    I also became my mother when I got married and stopped cultivating friendships. Or did I ever start? This topic will be an essay someday soon so I won’t go into details here. I don’t “work” at my friendships, however, I’m hellbent on changing this one. I ain’t going down like that.

    I think this post is hilarious and so glad you shared this about yourself. Too funny!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks, Hallie. Can’t wait to read it, though I have to say–online anyway, I think you do a great job cultivating friendships. I think you were one of the easiest people to get to “know” online. Very supportive and open.
      And, what in the world does the “H.” stand for??

  5. Wendy Avatar

    I became my mother when I set a timer for my kids to finish dinner. I used to pick at my food forever and it would drive my mom nuts. So, she would set a timer for me and I had that amount of time to finish or I went straight to bed. My kids started the same thing, taking forever to eat dinner, so I set a timer with the same threat attached. The first time I did it I thought, ‘Oh my God. I have become my parents!” It worked though! They don’t need a timer set anymore!!

    For the most part though, I have become my father. My husband will sometimes answer my outbursts with “okay Bill.”

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Ha! I love it. How are you like him?
      The timer is a great idea. I don’t have that problem, though–if anything, they race through it and I have to slow them down.

      1. Wendy Avatar

        You must be a better cook than me!!! LOL!
        I asked my husband and my mom to help me explain to you how I’m like my dad. The response from both, “how are you not!?!”

  6. Regina Avatar

    When I was in my early 20s, people said that my mom and I sounded alike on the phone. I haven’t noticed any real similarities (other that the physical likeness) between us since then. I do feel myself channeling my grandmother a lot.

    I find that I have some of her same mannerisms, some of her same phrases (like you and your mom), and a lot of her movements, especially when I recline to take a nap or just lounge around on the sofa. I hold one arm across the top of my head and the other across my chest, and kind of cross my legs or stretch out the way she did.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Oh, interesting. And did your grandmother live with you?
      I love that, having witnessed small movements hundreds of times and noticing without knowing, we emulate them.

  7. Nina Badzin Avatar

    I feel like I am mother all the time. I end up writing about her a ton. She’s probably the subject of every other Brain, Child post I write. It’s kind of crazy how much her advice and just way of being come up.

    I love that picture by the way, especially because your son took it.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks, Nina – me too. It’s not the best photo of me, and seems to clearly show my “what do you want I’m writing” face–but in that sense, like a true photographer, he captured me. 🙂

  8. muddledmom Avatar

    So many things. 1. Allergy shots. 2. Dancing in my kitchen when I clearly have no business doing it. I remember how much I hated her doing this, yet I do it. Why? 3. The fact that I’m not too keen on being like my mother makes me dread the day when my daughter realizes she is just like me. Why are some of us like this? What is so wrong with being like the women who raised us?

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Great questions. Maybe because we want to believe we have more control over who we become? And we do have control – but the influence of people who raise us is fierce and huge. Hard to overcome that without real awareness and effort. So the smaller things, like dancing in the kitchen, escape notice. Plus – it’s a GREAT way to let off energy and lift your spirits. My kids and I do it all the time; and we always danced with my mom. Sometimes I pretended I was annoyed with her dancing, but I could never roll my eyes without smiling.

  9. macjam47 Avatar

    My whole life, anyone who knew my family said I looked just like my dad. That was okay by me because no better man will ever walk this earth. My dad and I were very close, so of course I loved the comparison. One day when I was in my late thirties, I remember looking in the mirror, and jumped back. My first thought was, “Oh my gosh! Mom!” It was the first of many times since I’d seen my mom staring back at me. I still look so much like my dad, but I can see that I am also my mother’s child.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Oh, I’m touched by how much you love your dad — both your parents. How did they do that? Feel free to give pointers….

  10. Jessica Halepis Avatar

    I feel both of my parents living inside me. It’s funny, because I’ve actually been writing recently about a similarity between my dad and me.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      What is it? I’ll go search…

  11. AP Avatar

    Great blog, it’s not so bad being your mom, she’s a great woman!

  12. Mike Shortall Avatar

    Been there, done that … Only it was a dad thing obviously.

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