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.