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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Becoming Your Parents

Remember, when you were a little kid, vowing NEVER to do THAT with your kids when you grew up? As it turned out, I had no children so I didn't get to test that particular pledge but there are a other ways I seem to have turned into my mother. Some are mildly interesting or amusing and others, I don't like at all.

I never thought I looked anything like my mother until a day about 15 years ago, five years after she had died. I was walking along the West 58th Street side of Bergdorf Goodman in New York and caught a shadowy image of myself reflected in a show window.

“What's my mother doing here?” I thought for a second. I spent a lot of time when I got home looking at my face in the mirror and worked out that it was the lower half of my face that looked so much like her. It still does. And for better or worse, I still wish that were not so.

My mother and I shared a great love of sexy, high-heeled shoes. Maybe I got that from her too. I was shocked when I visited her when she was in her early 60s to see her in a particularly unattractive pair of white, flat sandals. How could she? I mean those shoes were ug-glee.

As far as I could tell, she never wore high heels again and I resented that. I vowed (shades of childhood) that I would never give up three-inch heels. One day nearly 12 or 14 years ago as I got dressed for work, I slipped into my gorgeous sexy high heels and when I walked into the kitchen, I nearly passed out from the pain in my feet.

I knew I couldn't get through the day in those shoes, so I found a pair of scruffy old flats and hoped no one would notice. I tried every morning for a long time to get into a pair of high heels and never could again.

Sorry, Mom, for thinking you were such a fashion dud in your old age. I finally understand.

She was independent to a fault - “I'll do it myself!” - and that made her hard to get along with a lot of the time. And guess what? She taught me from the cradle to rely on myself for just about everything. And that makes me hard to get along with a lot of the time.

However, as she got older, she backed off sometimes and let others help out. And so I find myself doing that now too – just a little so far.

As I was getting wound up for a long list of this stuff, I decided to check around the web to see what others may have said about turning into our parents.

It didn't take long until I ran across a fabulous and funny take on the topic at the humor site, Cracked. An article there titled, 7 Scientific Reasons You'll Turn Out Just Like Your Parents, begins with this lead-in:

”Old people are cranky, slow and boring. Kids are noisy, restless and irritating. For most of us, life is about making sure we stay as awesome as we are right now...

“Well, science has some bad news for you. The behaviors of the elderly that you write off as old-person lameness, and your behavior that the elderly credit to dickish rebellion, are all based in biology. And no, you can't stop it.”

Ha! No way can I do any better than that about becoming my mom. So here's what else Cracked says:

Of the seven reasons, I disagree only with number 3: "You Will Stop Trying to Change the World (If You Are a Man)" although the explanation refers only to men so maybe that explains why I keep tilting at windmills.

The other six reasons are equally plausible and equally funny:

  1. Your Brain Will Stop Getting Pleasure from New Music
  2. The Physical Urge to Rebel Will Fade Away
  3. Your Brain Will Start Getting Pleasure from Boring Shit
  4. It Will Become Physically Impossible to Sleep In
  5. You Will Find Yourself Eating Bland Food, Because You Can't Taste It
  6. Your Memories of the Past Will Become "The Good Old Days"

You should go read the whole article by Michael Record. You'll recognize yourself in a lot of it and I promise it will make you laugh. After you've done that, come on back here and tell us how you are like your parents – or not.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Myopia


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Rather surprisingly, my father kept listening to new music, and enjoying it, right up until he died, long after I had stopped listening to it.
I suspect one of the reasons that I’ve kept my beard is so I wouldn’t look like him. The real reason is that I’m just too lazy to shave.

Mother, huh. I look like my grandmother. Maybe that's not so bad - she had a nice figure into her 80's.

Several years ago I saw a snapshot of myself and thought it was my Mom, oops! I am sitting here in my nightie, a Mom habit, I used to always get dressed at once. This year, reason 4, I cannot sleep in past 5:30 or 6 so I make coffee and peek at my PC before getting dressed. It worked out as the summer temps rose to "too hot." It's a great time to water the yard, walk, and then take an early trip to the grocery store before the suffocating heat set in.

Seems to be a day for writing about our parents ... last night I felt driven to speculate a bit about how I think my mother might have reacted to the the current ugly political campaign.

As my mother aged, she seemed to dwell more and more on thoughts of her own parents. I find myself doing this as well. In mid-life, it is easy to ignore parents, but becoming an elder seems to involve feeling part of the continuum of those who came before.

Thanks for suggesting we read Cracked.

It was so funny but so TRUE.

My hardiest laugh came when I saw the picture of the shackled prisoner and the caption was:

"No taxes,free meals and 50% fewer beatings; Prison, better than Mom's basement."

I have always seen this situation from the Mom's point of view;i.e. I would rather pay his rent than have him move in with me.

Cracked opened my eyes to the other side of this equation; i.e. Prison is better than Mom's house.

Who Knew?

I started seeing the Mom in me when I was in my 30's, and definitely after she died, I started to notice her more. I notice it in the artsy-creative stuff. I love to crochet and have quite an eye for it--as well as for style. Mom always tried to be stylish, even on a very, very tight budget (at times.) I do similar things.

As for music, I now understand opera! I have no idea where that came from, but it sounds less like screaching and more like music. I love my old 80's stuff, but still sift through new music and find a thing or two that I like (the Black Keys particularly. and David Guetta, whose electronica reminds me of raves.)

oh, and there is evidence for men losing the desire to change the world. That's because their testosterone drops. Women, however, after 40, become entreprenurial--because that biological clock stuff starts to tick down, and our brains have more space to think up new stuff, start businesses, etc.

As for high heels--after laughing at my orthopedist who told me I'd never wear them agin after I broke my ankle at 36, I'm now saying "oy, my feet!" when I spend too much time in them. The padding on my feet, esp the balls of my feet, has flattened out, and sure, I could get some collagen shoved in there to plump them up but, eh! who cares? I opt for flats more these days, but they're cute flats.

And that's another thing I got from my mom: even if you're round, always remain cute :)

I never looked like my Mother, which was/is a disappointment, because she was very pretty. I look mostly like my Dad, but no one would confirm that as I was growing up. My parents were divorced when I was under one year old..and my Father lived several states away and he was very unpopular with my Mother's family. I was shocked when I finally saw a photo of him (at around age 14) I looked just like a female version of him. These days I feel like I look like my Mother when I wear short sleeve plaid shirts. Shirts and pants were her "uniform" because she worked in a factory. She always looked very neat and put together. I got stuck at a party with high heels on (and in-fashion, no stockings)..I had to take them off in the parking lot and walk barefooted over rocks and pebbles to the sanctuary of the car. That was the last time I wore great looking shoes. They nearly killed me.

Yes, I look more and more like my mother with every passing year. But those six things...not so much. I lost interest in new music at 18 when I fell in love with the classics, so that one doesn't count. But I am much more rebellious in old age than I ever was before: boring shit still bores me: I could easily sleep in if I wanted to though usually I don't: I enjoy flavoursome food more than ever and I find the present and future vastly more interesting than the past.

Me too, me too. LOL

I still listen to music in the car. I look like my cousin. That so funny. In me, unfortunately, is a core of nastiness. I ruthlessly curb it, but mother didn't.

When I was a young matron I swore that I would never get heavy like my mom and would never let myself go. Well, I am eating my words now because I am 25 pounds heavier than I was when I made that oath.

In our family we seem to skip a generation. I look like my grandmother while my daughter looks so much like my mother that it takes my breath away when I see my mom's face on my daughter.

I swore I would never let a man walk over me the way Mom did; history repeated itself. Sigh!

As an aside, I read "6 Obnoxious Old People Habits" on "Cracked". It was equally funny and I roared when I read why we are cranky. One reason is that we learned to 'suck it up' as young adults (see above) and we have 80 years of stored anger and all that's left of nature's 'flight or fight' instinct is fight. Works for me.

The Cracked post and Darlene's comment made me laugh. I think my horror at how some young parents deal with their offspring in public reveals in me a bit of the anger Darlene cited.

We took our kids to restaurants often from infancy on. But Hubby or I would quickly remove an inconsolable or misbehaving child from the hearing of other patrons until we could restore quiet and courteous behavior.

I am stuck in the music of my young adulthood and am happy to be there.

One thing I thought I would never do is butcher the lyrics of songs. My mother would happily warble, on key, but butchered versions of songs as she worked or played.

It used to aggravate me, much like fingernails across a blackboard, and doesn't that reference date me.

The Eagles, Abba and a bunch of country stars' music provided the soundtrack for our sons' early years. Now they know all the lyrics. I tend to butcher the lyrics and make my grown sons gag.

There she is, in the mirror, looking back at me. She lives on, and she is still cynical.

I have my grandmother's arms with the dreaded batwing flesh swinging to and fro. I do seem to see some of my mother as I catch a candid glance in a mirror now and then. Quite an odd thing to note is that I chew like my mother.

Wheee -- loved this one. Just passed it on to everyone I know, old or young!!

I'm there!! And many of my childhood friends are telling me more and more, "Wow, you sure do look like your mother!" OUCH

There is a certain truculent look that I share with my mother. And when I see photos of myself with that expression it means I was in that particular mood that I share with her sometimes.

I look like my daddy but have many of the mannerisms of my mother. It happens because people take on the attributes of the people they are around most.

Ok, this is weird, but pay attention to the sound of your loved ones' cough, or throat clearing. My husband's coughing and throat clearing sound EXACTLY like his father's did. His sister laughs exactly like their mother did. My face is a spooky mixture of my mom and my dad's sister.

Well, I'm 0-for-7 on that list.
I'm 67.
What does that mean?

Don't think I look like my Mom. She always said I resembled my Dad's side of the family, but I never knew him. Supposedly, I had his younger sister's sense of humor and since I did know her, that was sorta okay.

I do think of my mother with increasing frequency -- so much I wish we could talk about -- now that I have time in life, and she would also, to actually rest and reflect.

I'm reminded of an elder woman in a skilled facility where I served years ago, who would periodically wheel through the halls of this 200+ bed facility calling out to her Mother or Father, often unresponsive to comfort and distraction as she would explain they were supposed to be coming to pick her up, since she was just visiting here, and where were they?

I had a period of enjoying high heels -- think I still have a pair of dressy black spikes. Think I coulda run Imelda Marcos a good contest for numbers of shoes. I eventually, resented shoes designed with no thought to comfort -- even perceiving them as much more esthetically attractive than some of the ridiculous clod-hoppers I've seen in succeeding years.

Cracked is more stereotypical perceptions, though an element of truth, I think -- but they really are very funny. I still enjoy new music, just not all of it, but then I didn't like all of the music that was prevalent in my day either -- likely won't in the future.

I have no difficulty sleeping-in, enjoy doing so at times and hope that never changes, especially as I recall my husband's problem and his ultimately having to take sleeping pills which created their own problems. Was really such a contrast in his life, as he used to be able to have a free hour, could immediately fall asleep, and awake, refreshed and ready to go.

Perhaps it was just my particular past experiences, but I've been quite aware that only part of "the old days" were better and would not welcome returning to them. As dire as many aspects of life's prospects today are, I look forward to the future.

Only in mid to later life have I been able to enjoy highly seasoned foods -- as others literally upset my stomach. Know taste buds can tend to dull with age, so I don't really know now whether I'm truly getting the full taste of everything, or not.

I do have to guard against "deriving pleasure from boring shit" (which some I've been unable to interest say blogging is.) What I've done is not rejuvenate my TV set in a grand experiment of life without the tube.

Obviously, I've not jettisoned my periodic rebellious nature, or I wouldn't be reading and writing here.

Ronni,
I had the best laugh in a long, long time - an out-loud belly laugh with tears in my eyes, which continued when I read the post about the obnoxious habits of old people.
I see my father in the mirror every day, and hear his voice all the time, repeating expressions he used, right down to the same inflections.
We all pattern ourselves on our parents; it's just a part of life.

I wish you could learn to accept your face! It's a perfectly wonderful face!! :)

Well, I was going to say "welcome to the club" but after reading all of these "nice" comments I'm a little hesitant to share that it was my goal in life to "not" be like my mother until one day, while standing at the sink (and having 4 young children) I HEARD myself say exactly her words and I knew I was in trouble....Time for therapy which helped a great deal along with some life experience which activated the forgiveness and gratitude genes. Time and contemplation has brought me to a new and more loving attitude. A better place by far. Probably I'm too late with this so no worry about who reads it.

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