It’s a common refrain, generally a grievance: “I’m becoming my mother!” It’s fate; you can’t fight it. Or, at least, that’s been my experience.
Every morning when I was growing up, my mom would apply her makeup topless while wearing a jauntily-printed shower cap and blasting NPR. I thought that everything about this was embarrassing.
And so my own transformation was gradual. First, I started my car and someone had left it on public radio. Hmmm, not so bad! I got a shower cap in a gift bag and gave it a whirl. When that one wore out, I replaced it with a more “fun” shower cap. Then I realized that I was getting powder all over my clothes because the order was wrong; it would be less risky to get dressed after doing my makeup. Flash forward a couple years and this is who I am now.
In honor of Mother’s Day, Girlboss asked five women to share the moments they realized they too were becoming their mother figures.
Akira: 24, from Long Beach, California
I knew I was becoming my mom when I started talking to dogs. My mom’s a dog whisper or, as normal people call it, “weird.” Since I left for school a few years back, she spends a lot of her free time chatting up and arguing with her “youngest daughter” Kiku, a Greyhound Shepard mix who’s incredibly responsive. They have a relationship comparable to that of a mom and a teen girl, which I used to find silly—until I started walking dogs for a living.
The first few walks I took, I found myself holding full-blown conversations with sweet Poodles, arguing with sassy Pomeranians, and venting to cuddly German Shepards. The dogs, amazingly, respond with interest and fervor. I don’t know if what I inherited from my mom is a gift or the reason people look at me weird. But whatever it is, it’s a sign that I’m my mother’s daughter.
Emme: 31, from Walpole, New Hampshire
One word:Jeopardy. The show whose timer-like theme music and ’80s-inspired aesthetic used to make me complain in protest whenever my mother would let us eat our dinner in front of the TV. In my pre-teen years, I could think of nothing more boring than spending 30 minutes guessing at which Scot’s beloved poems include “To a Mouse” and “Address to a Haggis,” or which section of the orchestra castanets belong to.
Meanwhile, my trivia-loving, journalist mother would be sitting on the edge of her seat, shouting answers out at the speed of an auctioneer while I counted down the minutes until we could change the channel and assured myself that I would never be such a nerd. These days, however, I can think of nothing better than an evening on the couch with a glass of wine and Alex Trebek, screaming out Robert Burns and percussion, and wondering if my mother is doing the same.
Hanna: 27, from Collins, Mississippi
I’ve studied Russian language and culture for years. When Russians say “It’s fate,” they don’t necessarily indicate essential goodness or positivity. Being hit by a bus is fate just as much as falling in love or having spaghetti for lunch. Fate isn’t charmed; it simply is.
In high school, I accepted that I was destined to become my mother because that’s when people started telling us that we looked alike, had a similar accent, and shared affects. I took this as a fate that was neither good nor evil: it just was.
Years later, in college, I lived in Russia to continue my studies. While there, I had traumatic memories plague me with depression and anxiety. I had a darkness creep in. I was a different person than the upbeat girl my mother raised. But my mom found the silver lining in the situation—and she made me feel heard and safe. In my mother, I saw the person I wanted to be; someone who showed up for people. And I eventually reconnected with an earlier version of myself, one that had the same slow drawl and cavalier happiness as my mom.
Now, when I’m told I’m just like my mom I value the resemblance as a confirmation of who I am. It’s a lucky destiny.
Heather: 30, from Bloomington, Minnesota
I can still recall how hard my eyes rolled every time I would hear my mom say “Antiques! Let’s stop” on drives to our cabin in northern Minnesota. Rather than expensive antiques, they were always little dusty shops full of old housewares, and I hated wandering around them while my mom searched for treasures. But somewhere between my backseat teenage scoffs and my mid-twenties, I caught the bug.
Unbeknownst to either of us, all of those hours spent looking at old furniture, kitchenware, decor, and overlooked thingamabobs, somehow made scouring thrift shops my idea of heaven. Recently, I’ve given myself the space to dream a bit, and think I may have found more than a hobby. Though the reality is years off, I’m in the initial stages of a business plan that I hope to turn into a (slightly less dusty) shop of my own—inspired in all the best ways by my mom.
Kerilyn: 30, from Savannah, Georgia
I call my son “love.” My mother called me “love.” I never meant to call him “love,” it was just the only appropriate name, really. “Hey love.” “Sweet love.” My mother always told me I would never know how much she loved me until I had my own child. It’s true. I didn’t know.
I remember when I took an Uber home from the hospital in Brussels—my husband walking our newborn son Elliot home because we didn’t have a carseat yet—and my mother rode with me. I turned to her and burst into tears: “Mom, I can never have another child, because there is no way I will be able to love them as much as I love Elliot!” She laughed and said, “Don’t worry, love, you can deal with that when you get there.” I’m still not sure how it will be possible, but if that day comes, I guess I’ll find out.