Oscar Wilde, in The Importance of Being Earnest, declares, "All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."
I’m sure, at some moment in time, every one of us has cringed at the idea of becoming our mother. Perhaps not now we're parents, but possibly during the torment of teen years when she tried to do some kind of funky chicken dance at your debutante ball, or sung a Madonna song (badly with all the wrong words) in the car when you had friends on board.
Laugh you may, but this will be you. In fact, it is now me.
I was singing an Usher song in the car recently - quite an achievement because I find a lot of current music painful to hear and often mutter, “what’s this awful noise” mid-channel change. I actually knew the words (let’s face it, it’s not the stuff of literary genius) but for some reason several of the lyrics escaped me just as I was about to hit the chorus. I mumbled over a couple and then sang out, nice and loud. I may have been a tad premature hitting the high notes, but hey, I was giving it a red-hot go. My eight year old was mortified, and that was without any friends to witness my faux pas. The flamboyant dancing at the traffic lights with some steering wheel drumming and flat palm air pumping was probably the force that drove him to try and climb out of a moving vehicle when we took off again.
Newsflash: I'd just morphed into my mother.
Calling a child by all their sibling's names until I arrive at the right one seems to be my latest turning-into-my-mother trick. How hard can it be?
“Party Rock Anthem is my favourite song,” one of my children announced after recovering from the Usher debacle. “Who sings that?” I ignorantly asked. A patronising look, a glance to the other sibling and a unified scoff. Clearly a question of such uncool status was not worthy of a response.
Music taste is the first sign you’re turning into your mother. Then there’s technology.
I use computers every day and am married to an IT geek, so I’d like to think I’m all over the latest and greatest gadgets. My children kindly advise me otherwise. They roll their eyes as I try to navigate through a new website, or attempt to set a TV recording device. After a whole 30 seconds of practised patience, the eldest usually says, “Mum, I’ll just get Dad to do it.”
As my sister commented, “They talk to you like you’re a complete idiot when you’re on the computer, as though they’ve discovered computers.”
I’m sure I did this to my own mother, through condescending demonstrations of how to put a CD in the CD player, indicating where to press play like she’d just arrived on the planet.
I could attempt to pass these examples off as signs of aging rather than turning into my mother but there are too many troubling similarities. Denial is futile.
- I’ve been caught dozing in front of the TV at 8pm, something I used to find hilarious about my own mum. "Eight o’clock?!" I used to think. "How can you be tired at 8pm?"
- Sending my children back to look for something they can’t find whilst accusing them of not looking properly? Guilty. But right! They usually have a half-a*sed look and then I have to storm in and find the missing link. Oh the memories!
- Calling a child by all their sibling's names until I arrive at the right one seems to be my latest turning-into-my-mother trick. How hard can it be to remember your own child’s name? (Times four?)
- Shushing my children as I tune in to “old man” radio so I can feel engaged through talk-back. Or listening to some politician drone while I lecture my children about important current affairs as their eyes glaze over.
- Bad fashion decisions? Outdated homework techniques? Mispronouncing celebrity names? It’s a slippery slope.
Luckily, it’s a slope I’m more than happy to slide. Irrespective of the suspect dance moves and substandard vocal ability, there were plenty of things I could say I didn’t want to become when I was growing up. My mother was not one of them. Only now I have children do I realise what a phenomenal being she was - and still is.
My mother is a woman of patience. A woman of steely resolve and inner strength. A woman of practical nature who possesses the rare commodity of common sense. Fairness and humanity were (and still are) her mantra, although she never uttered them out loud in some kind of freaky orange-jumpsuit kind of way.
Unlike Oscar Wilde, I don’t think becoming like your mother is a tragedy, because I’m not aiming to become her. Rather, I aspire to be the best version of myself, which hopefully includes so many of the qualities I see in my mother. She inspires me to be a better mum. To be reial and true. To vent and swear when I need to. But mostly ... to relax. To laugh. To adore. To accept. To love.
So, to you, Mum, I raise my wine glass (yes, on a school night!) and say thanks, and HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
Have you turned into your mother? Is that a good or bad thing? Have your say and comment on this post in the Essential Baby forum.