For twelve years, one thought ran through my head more than any other.
I am not my mother.
My mother. People respect and admire her. I can’t go anywhere in this town without hearing about how great she is. And she is great. She’s a master at her job, at her church work, at being an example to others. Few women inspire me the way she tends to. Granted, it’s not always to be better than I am. Sometimes it’s just to be different than who she is.
I haven’t said it in four years. Not because I finally decided to believe it, but because I finally gave in.
To a point.
Everyone says I look just like her. (Well, everyone except for a whole two people in my life. Both those women think I look more and more like Daddy everyday. I do have his shape. Not build, shape. There’s a difference. Personally, I don’t think I look unlike him, but
not just like him.) Looking like Mother isn’t an altogether bad thing. I think she’s beautiful. It does mean that I get her family’s short stature, and that double-chin thing that I can’t
seem to shake. We have a very similar smile and have confused people on the phone. We’d even have the same color hair, if we didn’t color it (she goes blonde, I go dark auburn.)
I went into education, just like she did. Even taught elementary school, just like her. I loved being in the classroom and watching students “get it.” Paperwork and parents never bothered me. I love the challenge of getting the material across so that every student masters it. Third-graders were the breaking point. They were a wonderful class, but I’m just not cut out for that age. At the first opportunity, I hopped on a high school position and ran with it. You know what my favorite part of this job is? Watching the strides the students make in a year’s time.
In high school and college, Mother and I clashed constantly, which I think may be a prerequisite for a healthy mother-daughter relationship. Man, life was hell in that house for awhile. I take full responsibility for my part. The main issue, I think, was that we’ve something of the same temperament and clashed. Looking back, I’m not sure how we shared that house through some of those things. Seems like one of us (me, I guess) would’ve bolted at some point.
I hear that I’m just like her pretty often, too. Sometimes, I just have to laugh at that. Personality-wise, I think I’m a whole lot more like Daddy—same quirky sense of humor and all. Mother and I may do things similarly, but it’s just because I learned those things from her. I make a lot of it up as I go, though.
Even going off to school and then moving out on my own later, I strived to be different from her. My life at nearly 29 years old is very different from hers. I’m single (she’d been married 11 years), have no kids (she had two, and one was getting ready to go to junior high, eek!), have lived on my own for several years, and have a masters degree (she was starting to go back to school to become a teacher). Those are “big” things in life and those aren’t the things I’ve chosen to do because of my desire to not become her. No, it’s the little things that I do.
The first thing I did that I felt like carried my signature on it and separated me from her a bit was making spaghetti sauce. I don’t know why that’s such a big deal to me. She doesn’t do anything fancy with spaghetti sauce. A can of paste, can of sauce, maybe some diced tomatoes, ground beef browned with onions, spices. Easy. I, on the other hand, take whole tomatoes and dice/puree them fresh, garlic, chili powder, oregano, basil, and thyme. Salt and pepper to taste. With or without ground beef. Nothing canned or preserved. It’s not what I grew up eating, but I don’t want it any other way anymore.
There are other things, too.
I buy shoes because they make me feel pretty.
I drink a vodka tonic (with extra lime) every night before bed.
There’s always a bottle of decent chardonnay, and chocolate in my house.
I sleep in the nude 90% of the time (clothes are constricting, you know?).
I’m a writer and love wordplay.
You’ll never see me wearing sensible shoes two days in a row.
I tend to cuss when I drink. Or get pissed. Or breathe (sometimes).
My best friend is a wonderful man, who’s involved with another woman.
I’m less tolerant of stupidity than she is.
I’m way more liberal than she is.
I cherish the days that I can sleep late (even if “late” is only 8 a.m.).
I think nothing of shopping at Wal-Mart at 2 a.m. to avoid the lines.
I love good rock music (Aerosmith, Van Halen, Queen..that era).
I refuse to listen to the Christian station. They play nothing I like.
Okay, so some of that’s mundane. I told you it wasn’t big things that I do to project being different from her. But it’s not always the big things that make people anyway. It’s the little things.