One of the worst things you could tell me, when I was a teenager, was that we all grow up to become our parents. Actually, becoming my father wasn’t that bad an idea – my dad is funny, snarky, has a fantastically contagious laugh, and he made me the geek I am today.
But oh, becoming Mom? Full body shivers and complete denial. I would never become my mother. Ever. Over my dead body.
Thankfully, it didn’t take her dead body for me to realize that I am my mother’s child, as much as I am my father’s child. It was a slow revelation that crept up on my in my early 20s, as I made peace with my parents and the hormones and crankiness of the teen years flushed out of my system. Of course, being difficult, I noticed the negative traits first. Anyone who has ever noticed that I can hold a grudge like it’s an Olympic sport did not meet my mother – she made me look like a rank amateur when it comes to grudges. (In fact, her entire side of the family really elevates it to an art form.) But slowly, I noticed more things: singing and dancing while cooking, loving to cook, being an adventurous eater, always sneaking in reading when possible, loving fields of flowers and the quiet moments of beauty that sneak up on us.
But as anyone can tell you, knowing you’re like your parents is entirely different than sounding like a parent.
Yesterday, I was taking some photos for a project when Zeus decided he needed to see what I was doing. He really needed to see what I was doing. And since I was using a repeating shutter in order to minimize blur, I got cat. I got a lot of cat.
And without even thinking of it, I heard myself saying “Zeus, you’re being such a butthead!” Zeus just tilted his head the other way, trying to figure out what the shiny thing in my hand was and if he could eat it, and I looked back at him, caught between horror and amusement: I sounded just like my mother when she was exasperated with my brother. I was never the recipient of “being a butthead” commentary, but oh, my brother and my uncles. The chorus of my childhood is filled with “stop being a butthead”, inevitably directed at one of the male members of our household.
It’s a phrase I haven’t heard in years, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I puzzled Zeus further by getting teary and then sweeping him up in a hug. The small things that we never think of so often seem to be the things that become woven into our being; I would have never selected that phrase as an intentional one to add to my repertoire of creatively expressing exasperation, but knowing it’s there gives me another thread to the woman I would have once been horrified to be compared to, and am now merely grateful that such comparison is possible.
* What do you mean, it’s Wednesday? The rule of the land is this: it becomes the next day when I have slept. Going on 40 hours awake, it’s still Tuesday for me. A very, very long Tuesday…