Step away from the rack!” the voice boomed through a megaphone. The police helicopter whirred overhead and I was caught in the beam of a spotlight. I quickly put the item back and stepped away, my hands in the air.
OK, it wasn’t exactly a police helicopter and there weren’t paratroopers sliding down ropes to apprehend me, but it sure felt that way when my 16-year-old daughter caught me examining a jacket that she deemed too “matronly” at Bloomingdale’s. It was not the only time I heard “Step away from the rack,” or “You cannot be seen in that” or “Just because it still fits doesn’t mean you should wear it.”
Thanks to my daughter, I donated half my clothes to the church thrift shop. I was gratified when she rescued a couple of items, one-piece “jumpsuits” that had been all the rage in the late 1980s and had gotten me past the bouncers’ ropes at trendy Manhattan discos. She said that she “had to have them” and I felt vindicated that she liked my cool clothes, until she added, “in case I go to a costume party.”
The flip side was that the clothing and shoes that she deemed acceptable disappeared with some regularity. I remember picking her up from college one May and discovering several pairs of my missing shoes and sandals among her things. I was secretly pleased. What mother doesn’t love sharing with her daughter, pleased when we wear the same size and like the same things?
As they get older, our daughters become more like us too. The little girl who wanted to be just like her mommy, wearing matching flannel nightgowns, turned into the somewhat disdainful teenager who wanted to create her own identity, and then the young woman who tried to hide her smile when she was told “you are just like your mother.” Our husbands and sons shake their heads in amazement when our daughters make the same gestures, use the same wording or even walk just like us. Victoria Secunda, who writes about the mother-daughter connection, said, “A daughter is a mother’s gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self.”
And it works both ways. Over time, we mothers find ourselves emulating our daughters too. I always tell mine, employing a technology term, that she is “Version 2.0″… me, but much improved. I learn so much from her, not only about how to dress, but about fitness and nutrition, current events, human relationships and all the other areas where she has a fresh perspective, one that was “seeded” by me but has grown in different soil, in a new generation with updated ideas and knowledge. It is, indeed, a magical connection.
Find that magical connection with stories from our newest book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom and this story to whet your appetite, “Mom’s Recipe for Life.“