Thursday, January 26, 2006

No, I'm Not My Mom. But...

Weekend Assignment #96: "For ladies: Name an incident when you thought: '"OMG I AM my mother! For guys: Same with your father!"

Extra credit: What did you parents do when you told them about it?

Here is one of the very few pictures I have of my mom and me together. This was on May 12th, 1979, the day I almost graduated from college. I had four incompletes at the time, all in English. I made up one of them later, but Dr. B. never turned in the grade. It doesn't matter now. A quarter century later, I graduated for real, in a much more lucrative field than English Lit.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about tonight.

My history with my mom was long and varied. Sometimes we were best friends, sometimes bitter enemies. Early on she took care of me, and at the end I took care of her. But I never became my mom - not in the sense of growing more like her as an adult. The similarities that do exist have to do with genetics and upbringing, not me getting old and crochety, or becoming a parent. Let's run down the checklist, shall we?

Smart and creative
Smart and creative
Lifelong Democrat
Lifelong Democrat
Fat (except at the end) and sedentary
(Usually) fat and sedentary
Naturally shy, but you wouldn't know it; very outgoing
Shy, but you might not know it; somewhat outgoing
Lapsed Catholic
Lapsed Catholic, active Episcopalian
Ph.D. in Psychology
B.S.B. in Business/Accounting
Licensed clinical psychologist
Accountant, but not a CPA. Yet.
Former professional singer
Various high school choirs, but nothing since
Prolific songwriter and even more prolific lyricist
Occasional songwriter and lyricist
Playwright and would-be novelist
Novelist and essayist
Amateur actress
Does the occasional dramatic reading; church lector
Overachiever - served on 5 boards of directors (mostly charities) in 1965
Reluctant workaholic, Church volunteer and compulsive blogger
Divorced after 26 yearsStill happily married after 26 years.
Two children
Unable to have children
Multiple health problems, including back injury, polioencephalitis, Hepatitis C, diverticular desease, IBS, stroke, etc.
Just back injury, allergies, gall bladder (removed) and I.B.S.
Lifelong smoker, drank in moderationNever smoked, don't drink
Funny, but only occasionally witty
Funny, but only occasionally witty
Ethical and loving
Reasonably ethical and loving
Terrible taste in clothing
It's not true, John, I swear!

There's really never been a specific incident that made me think I've become more like my mom. John occasionally claims I'm like her, in unflattering ways; and it's true that I'm very aware of the need to start taking better care of myself to avoid the health problems she had later in life. But the similarities that exist are the same ones that were always there.


When I was in high school, and being criticized at home for "only" five As on a report card, I'd look at my overachieving mom and think that I'd never be like that. I mean, she worked downtown at a clinic, put in time at the MHA, had a private practice at home, acted and directed and wrote plays on the side. She did all this despite the fact that she needed to take a nap every afternoon, a little souvenir of the encephalitis. I was sure I'd never be that driven, never be the status conscious workaholic, striving for excellence.

So what do you call a woman who ended up with a 3.97 GPA for her second stint in college, who works eight hours a day and sometimes more, comes home and writes very single night, polishes blog entries for hours, and helps out her church as a lector, acolyte, blogger, photographer and webmaster? Am I any less driven than my mom? Am I any more able to relax and do nothing than she was in her prime? I think not. She had different interests and activities and concerns, but I'm every bit as overscheduled as she ever was.

On the extra credit, I don't recall that I ever discussed this issue with either parent. It's too late to discuss it with Mom (well, I can talk to her, but I won't get a reply), and I'm unlikely to mention it to my dad.

But here's the bottom line to all this. I do have some of my mom's faults, not all of which I listed above. I also have most of her strong points. And while I'm a bit ashamed of the former, I'm darn proud of the latter - not because of my own achievements, necessarily, but because I had a mom who passed that stuff on to me, and encouraged me to become the best Karen I could possibly be. I'm still working on that.

Thanks, Mom.


Tribute page: Dr. Ruth Anne Johnson


JessN said...

I remember the first time I knew I was like my mom. One morning, I was getting ready for work. I looked up at the mirror and saw my mother staring back at me. I was 22. My mother thinks this is funny. I'm not even sure why I saw her at that moment in the mirror, but there she was.

Since I've become a mom, our similarities are more pronounced. I can tend to be diadactic, pushy, and sometimes focus on the stupidest, unimportant things concerning the kids. I try not to be like that, but sometimes, it happens. On the flip side, I can also be silly, creative, a damn fine cook (she's still better than me). I have also inherited her sometimes poor taste in fashion (maybe poor taste is not the phrase I'm searching for---my mother dresses very tastefully, just not always in fashion).

Before you think she's a complete mess of a person, let me tell you the best thing I got from her--I got her ability to love in spite of her demanding side. Even when she gets on my last nerve, she is loving and that's why she acts the way she does--she just wants us all to have the best.

So, I guess it's ok to be like her.

Brandi said...

THIS was a great entry to read. What a creative way to do this. I love the picture of you together.

Brandi : )

Sarah said...

I find it very weird that he gender-categorized the assignment like he did. I mean, I freak out much more often about becoming my dad than becoming my mother.

Becky said...

Sarah has a point. I was more afraid be becoming my Dad. I didn't want to be a statistic...continuing the cycle of abuse. My mother's weapon of choice was words. I try not to wound with words either. Every now and then John will shoot me a look and say "OK Carol!" I hate that! I am NOT like my mother. LOL