I've spent most of my life either saying or thinking, "As long as I don't become my mother..." like it was some kind of motivational quote for my life. As long as I could keep chugging along and not become her, I was doing okay. As long as I didn't make the same choices she did, that would mean that I had somehow done better with my life. I knew with every fiber of my being that I could become my mother, but I didn't want to. I wanted my own life; I wanted to be different.
When people would even mention a slight resemblance to my mother, I used to get a look of disgust on my face. I didn't want anyone saying that I did something that she did, or even that I looked like her (even though she was quite pretty before drugs stole her beauty). I abhorred each and every little thing that was her. If I thought I might be doing something that she would do, I would run in the other direction.
Then reality started to hit once I had my own children. The thing is, people don't say you become your mother for no reason. Your upbringing has so much to do with the way you will handle challenges as you parent, and there will be challenges. I took every marriage class, and read every parenting book I could get my hands on in those first few years of being a parent and a wife. I had to know everything so I could do it "right" (not like her). I just knew I could hit some formula, try harder, do things differently, and not turn into something I didn't want to be.
Except life doesn't work that way. Every time I heard myself say something she would say, I would cringe. I would cook something that we ate when I was a kid, and think, "Well, that's one step closer, isn't it?" I desired to start sewing and crafting things for my kids and realized that my own mother spent so much of her time doing the same exact things for us when we were growing up. Sometimes I would sing a song and hear just the faintest hint of her voice in my voice; I would tear up with a longing for something that never was and shudder in disgust at the same time. I wanted to rip the part of her that lived in my own soul out of me so I didn't have to see little glimpses of her. So I didn't have to remember how sad I was that she did the things she did to me. I wouldn't have to think about a childhood lost, and the drugs that have ruled my mother's life. If I could just get rid of her, I could live the way I was supposed to.
Today, I know this: I will never become my mother. I will never wake up and all of a sudden, I am this person who will cheat, lie, and manipulate anyone to get what I want. I will not wake up an addict unless I choose that for myself. I will not look at myself in the mirror one day full of regret unless I, one decision at a time, ruin my own life. I cannot be ruled by a fear that says I cannot be more than where I came from. I also cannot split my mother's DNA from my own. She is a part of me, forever. I cannot continue beating myself up over who I am.
I used to think that becoming my mother meant resembling her in any way, shape, or form. I have come to realize now, that every single thing my mother did was not bad. Just because she had five kids, if I have five kids I will not become her. Just because she sewed, painted, and did crochet does not make me "like her" in a bad way if I choose to do those same things. I will not turn into her if I make her cinnamon rolls or sing a song with the same notes.
It may not be easy to see threads of her life woven into mine, but it shouldn't make me want to scream when I recognize something of hers. If nothing else, I'd like to learn to cherish those things that made her good, loving, and thoughtful. I'd like to remember that there was something good about her once upon a time. I'd like my kids to know that creativity runs deep in my family's blood. I want them to hear some of the same songs and stories that I did when I was growing up, and I want them to eat some of the same foods. I want all of this without the negativity and the abuse, and they can have that. My life is not her life, and I have not become her.
I will keep looking at my decisions, one at a time. I will keep praying and thanking God for second and third chances, and I will not give up on that for my mother as well. I know He sees her struggles. But, I'm not going to say that I don't want to become my mother anymore. It's so much more than just waking up and being someone. You are who you decide to be, day to day and moment to moment. Not everything about you is good, and not everything is bad. I wish that things were different sometimes, but we all have a journey to walk and I'm thankful for the direction mine is headed in. I want to become better each day, with each choice that I make; I hope some of those choices can be laced with the beauty and the good things that made up my mother as well.
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