We recently had pictures taken for our church directory. I must vainly admit, I was kind of excited this time. I recently lost some weight and was finally up to getting a family picture that included myself (not just me taking the picture of everyone else because I didn’t want to be seen). However, when we went in to view the pictures what I saw wasn’t what I expected. Don’t get me wrong by that last sentence, it’s not that what I saw was bad…just unexpected. It was then that I had my final step of my momma metamorphosis. Yes, others can relate I’m sure. That moment in time when you realize (and accept) that you have turned into your mother.
I was trying to relay this to my mom and I’m not sure she took it as well as I would have liked her too. I think she thought I was complaining. But, this isn’t like stage 1 of the momma metamorphosis. That takes place when you’re a teenage girl. Highly critical of your own mother, usually without any sound arguments, but told by everyone around that you look just like her. I got over that one a long time ago.
It’s a funny thing, the whole mother/daughter dynamic. I was thinking about it recently while teaching the teen girls in our youth department. I was talking about looks and where they should be on the priority scale of our lives. I told them to look at their own mothers and realize that was most likely their genetic future. Again, this sounds like I’m saying it in some doom and gloom negative way, but I’m really not. I think it’s a step toward growing up. I’m 38 now; don’t ya think it’s time? As a teenager and even into our twenties, we think and are told that we’re like a special snowflake that is the prettiest snowflake around and there are no other snowflakes like us (some days it’s the ugliest too depending on the mood we’re in.) But, it seems were never just a snowflake in a long line of snowflakes with similar genetic dispositions. So as our snowflakeness ages we go through this whole argument of not wanting to be like anyone else but just bask in the glow of our special flakeness thinking the world revolves around us.
Then somewhere in our mid to upper twenties we find ourselves in a bookstore trying to check out. As we dig through the messy abyss full of receipts and gum wrappers searching for a wallet that we know is in there the thought hits us like the Mac daddy of all de ja vu moments…”I am my mother! I’ve seen this purse before. I’ve criticized this purse before wondering who in their right mind would let their purse get this way!” Oh wait…maybe that was just me. It’s still a little hard to take it then, the whole momma metamorphosis. One still hasn’t admitted that they look like her and is hoping that this “bookstore moment” is just a quick one-time thing.
Onward into the thirties the truth starts setting in. As we start saying things to our children that we swore we’d never say. You know those things when we got in trouble and sat awaiting punishment on our bed and making deals with our future selves about never treating our kids that way. Well, then you catch yourself and think, “Hmmm maybe mom was onto something then.” Or when you find yourself riding your kids when company is coming over. I remember thinking; “this woman rides us like a Chinese sweatshop whenever anyone comes over. What’s the big deal?” Then, as I crack the whip on my own little sweatshop workers I catch myself for a moment and think “am I her?”
It was in these past few years that I started appreciating this more and more. I even set about trying to hone in on my momma’s best qualities (at least how I saw them as best). This is a woman who can meet someone and have his or her life story 15 minutes later and walk away having made him or her feel like the most special and interesting person in the world. Somehow, people just feel comfortable around her. They open up and just spill their guts. That’s a good thing though. I’d love it if I could make those around me feel special and comfortable the way she does. I’m still hoping I get that one.
She and I took a trip to New York City once, while I was in college. Everyone told us not to look anyone in the eye. As if all New Yorkers had a Medusa quality that would turn us to stone or that they’re all waiting to steal our wallet but this will only happen if we look at them. However, in their defense, this seems to be the only advice small town folk know to give to other small town folk going to the big city. Well, before we left the airport to get our first cab momma had to make a pit stop. I told her I’d wait with the luggage. After a while I started to get worried. Maybe a New Yorker got her in the bathroom! Was she turned to stone…or worse…mugged! No, she was talking to some diabetic woman who was giving herself a blood sugar check. Momma had a full health screening done within a 5-minute trip to the bathroom. This proved helpful later in the trip. Fearless momma had tips from the locals that saved us a bundle! Why, as emotionally moving as the ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty is, I remember it more for how much valuable information Momma was able to obtain about getting around town from a local lady taking a friend out to see Lady Liberty.
Just this week I found myself doing the bold kind of things that she does. 2nd man had thrown out my branches! After chopping down a huge tree in our front yard this year, I saved back some branches to make wedding trees for a bride I’m helping. I’ve been saving them for months and one day last week I stepped outside to work on them and noticed they were gone. He had been trying to help me by cleaning up the yard. I panicked for a few moments and then set about to get new branches. As it turned out a family not far from us had also chopped down a tree and had a familiar pile of branches in their side yard. So I made like momma and piled the kids in the car and knocked on a complete strangers door. A girl that looked like Snooki answered the door and I introduced myself and told her my predicament. As my kids sat crouching down and hiding in the truck, she laughed and told me I could have whatever I wanted. See that wasn’t so hard was it? But I remember crouching down in the car a few times myself as a kid. As I backed out of her driveway, I had another momma metamorphosis moment.
So, it wasn’t with regret that I noticed myself looking like my momma in those pictures. I think (and I believe others do to) that she’s quite beautiful. It was more of an acceptance moment for who I am and where I came from.
I wonder if my daughters will take it as well?