When I blow my nose I sound exactly like my mother. My mother would always walk around the house in the early morning or late evening in her robe (usually the robe one of the kids bought her for the previous mother’s day) with wadded tissues stuffed up the sleeves. An abandoned wadded tissue sometimes escaped her sleeve and wound up on the floor, somewhere between scuffling in her robe and slippers into the kitchen, probably with rollers in her hair, to get her coffee and bring it back to her vanity so she could sip it while applying her blue eye-liner. She, like me, has eyes that tear up with just so much as a big smile or a good laugh, and with watery eyes comes a drippy nose, and a constant need for tissues. And a good nose blow. Not a honking blow, but a quick blow from each nostril and a crumple of the tissue back up the sleeve until next time. I sound just like her when I blow my nose.
I don’t mind sounding or looking like my mother – it’s inevitable – but I hate it being pointed out to me. Especially by my siblings. I get defensive, like I invented that nose blow, or my smile was there first before my mother had it. But I don’t mind, it’s nice to be able to look at someone and see yourself. And it’s nice when you love the person you resemble. But then there’s that line. That mother/daughter line.
During my girls weekend this past August, the five of us bobbed in the cold Atlantic water, treading to stay warm, out of breath, having a conversation about our mothers. I think it began with mother-in-laws, then I mentioned a stubborn refusal to do something simply because my mother does it (I don’t even remember what it was, it could very well have been putting my hair in rollers or wearing blue eye-liner.) No logic, no reason other than I am not my mother so I will not do that. Because I may look like my mother, but I am not my mother.
And in a quick, near whisper, one of the girls looked at me and said “Isn’t that what we all do? Aren’t we all afraid we’ll end up exactly like our mother?”
And I probably couldn’t answer back because I am not the strongest swimmer and I had been treading water for quite a while tyring to keep up with the conversation, but that was the wisest comment I ever heard from someone my own age. So while I’ll be going through life with a nonsensical stubborn refusal to do certain things because they are an echo of my mother, the girl who made that comment – she’s going to go far in life.