Chicago, IL

Women, Are You Turning Into Your Mothers?

Sherry McGuinn

Take a moment to assess. I'll wait.

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“Mom, is that you?”

The other day, I scared the living shit out of myself. How? By glancing in the mirror. Because my reflection was not mine, not the Sherry I’m used to seeing in the looking glass. Instead, I saw my mother!

Considering that my dear mother is no longer of this Earth, that was frightening, indeed.

I mean, WTF? How did this happen? It must be a cosmic joke. Perpetrated by someone or something with a really twisted sense of humor.

A joke, or not, that old adage about we women morphing into our moms is one hundred percent true. So dead-on in fact, that it merits delving into.

As I try to nail down the exact period in time when my mother inhabited my body and soul, I recall that years ago, I favored my father. Physically and emotionally.

Everyone would say: “You look just like your dad!” And, as I look back on old photos of myself, I sure as hell did.

No longer. Now, I get double takes from family members, including my sister, who just the other day nearly busted a gut over something I said that reminded her of our mother.

I believe it was last Christmas when we were still allowed out and about, when my uncle told me, “You look just like your mama.”

My mother was a beautiful woman with great genes, so of course, I was flattered. But there’s much more to this evolution than the physical. A hell of a lot more.

That said, as I remember what my mother looked like as she aged, the physical part of this mystery is indeed startling. She was tall and slender. I am tall and slender. She was Italian and a dark brunette with dark eyes. Ditto for me. She looked younger than her years. I’ve been told that I do, as well.

Again, the gene pool was good to her.

Just as an aside, my dad, a Jew, also had dark eyes and hair. But of course, everyone knows that Jews and Italians are practically interchangeable!

Beyond the physical, my mother had her personality quirks. Lots of them. I know now that she suffered from depression during a time when nobody openly discussed their mental and emotional challenges. And I do believe that my OCD is yet another “glitch” we shared.

She could also be a raving bitch with a hair-trigger temper. As can I. There’s no need to lie. I am aware of my faults and freely discuss them.

My mother was a drinker who loved her vodka right up until the end. When she was in hospice care because of the lung cancer that ultimately killed her, she had a little tipple of vodka each evening, from the bottle my sister gave to the staff. Just for her.

I, too, love my vodka. And gin. And wine. I am an equal-opportunity drinker and, since I inherited that gene from both my parents, I need to be especially vigilant.

My mom was a great cook. That is where the comparison falls short. That’s not to say I’m a bad cook, well…I’ve had my screw-ups. Like the three-pound meatloaf that took on a life of its own.

As I looked at it on the cutting board in our kitchen, I’m pretty sure I heard it say, “Cut me and I’ll kill you.”

It was so off-putting, my husband had me take a picture of it. If I could find the damn thing, I’d post it here, but I don’t want to put you off your Cheetos.

My mother could also be a nag. Double-check. Ask my husband who is driven to distraction by my obsessive cleaning and straightening. A crumb on the table never goes unnoticed. Or shoes by the kitchen door. Or a glob of toothpaste in the bathroom sink.

Yeah, I’m cray-cray like that. When she was younger, when I was a kid, my mom was, too.

Finally, my mother had a wicked and sarcastic sense of humor. Triple check!

More often than not, these days, something will escape my lips and I’ll be damned if I don’t sound exactly like her! The inflection, the comment itself…everything!

“Morphing into Mom” is apparently a widespread phenomenon. According to a survey in Harper’s Bazaar, women start turning into their mothers around the age of 33. And get this: Men start to emulate their fathers at 34, or so.

So, ladies, we’re not alone! The dudes got their own crazy shit going on! But of course, we already knew that.

Although he shares many of his mother’s qualities, my husband turned into his dad, years ago.

Also in the survey, the women said they stopped rebelling against their mother in their early thirties and instead, started to mimic them.

So how about you? Is there something to this? If you ladies feel like you're morphing into your moms, feel free to comment!

© Sherry McGuinn, 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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Chicago, IL
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