If you don’t like the way your mother did something, don’t do that

Expired 8/08, in the recycle bin.

It’s logical, isn’t it?  I haven’t minded differentiating myself from my mom in the past, but now we are losing her, and rejecting her ways stings a bit.  There is a part of my brain that thinks that loving her means choosing to be like her.

When I was an awkward 13-year-old with fluffed-up, Aqua Net-sprayed bangs, I did not hesitate as I told my friends that I couldn’t stand the way my mom smiled.  I ignorantly judged her as seeming ‘fake’.  At that time, my mom was a slender, classy, striking woman in her early fifties, and I wasn’t feeling slender, classy, or striking so I was a tad bitter.  Of course, now I want to smack my 13-year-old brat self on the forehead; too bad the hairspray helmet would probably protect her while injuring me.

I matured beyond the smile-angst (eye-roll) and eventually began to understand myself apart from my parents.  When I started to think about their behavior objectively, I realized that my mom wasn’t a woman I wanted to imitate in some real ways.  One example is that she never wanted to get rid of things, things that had become useless- like expired medications.  This might be representative of her aversion to change in general.  Ongoing life means change, and I don’t want to keep 25-year-old suppositories to protect myself from that fact.

My mom now has a degenerative brain disease.  Her current vulnerability makes me think about the vulnerabilities she has had in the past, and it makes me a little sad.  Behind her beautiful smile there were struggles all along, and I now want to be on her team instead of looking at her critically.

This is where I have to go back to the logic.  I can adore her and disagree with her, just as I do with other people.  I am allowed to make different choices than she did.  Furthermore, I can focus on the fact that there are many aspects of who my mom was that I admire and do my best to make a part of who I am.

This can be seen matter-of-factly;  no sting is necessary.  Being loyal to my mom means loving her, not becoming her.

P.S.  When people tell me I have my mom’s smile, I take it as a compliment.