you're just like your mother

There are so many things I’ve thought about being or doing with my life. I often find myself saying, “I could totally do that.” I think I get that from my mom. Ever since I can remember, when we would go to craft shows, or see something online, my mom would instantly deconstruct the item and whisper something to me along those same lines. “We could totally make these and sell them” was a common phrase I heard. One of my earliest memories that we actually tried were little Christmas ornaments that we picked up at a craft fair so that we could make our own versions of them. We bought all the supplies we thought we’d need. We started the assembly of the first stages of one of the Santa Claus ornaments. That was about as far as we got. More recently, she’s had a newer idea of something after making her grandkids a little toy my brother and I had growing up. She saw a need that wasn’t there, and decided to do it herself. She’s purchased all the fabric she needs, has made her own patterns, and that’s as far as I’ve heard the project has gone. She called me one day telling me that I needed to help her. She was going to mail me these toys and have me take pictures of them and post them to an online craft website for her to sell.

As I reflect on these things from my past, I’m somewhat startled to realize where I got this trait. Granted, hers usually was related to some sort of crafting project – where she has a lot of actual skills in the field. Mine on the other hand tends to be a little more spread out – not in any specific field, but a little of everything. Heck, sometimes I’ve even seen things I know that SHE could make, and we could make money off of. I’d do all the legwork and handle the business side of things, and she’d be the work horse producing most of the product. How could we go wrong?!

Like mother like daughter? You’re just like you’re mother. Those are words I feel we all hear. A friend recently corrected me when I scoffed at hearing something like that. Fearing that I was becoming my mother. She said that we should embrace those words instead of fearing or resenting them. When we look at ourselves in similar ways as our parents and view them negatively, we are downplaying who they are. We’re saying that we don’t like those things in ourselves that are similar to them. Are we saying that we don’t like our parents? I don’t think those are necessarily the words I’d choose, but isn’t that what we’re saying by our reactions when we don’t want to be just like them? While I know that not everyone is close to their biological parents, I think there’s something to be said from embracing those traits instead of always hiding from them. Yes, your parents might have done bad things and been less than admirable, but you can choose to use those traits for good. Constantly hating and running from those things can be exhausting; I’ve tried in many ways if I actually think about it. Disliking qualities in your parents can in many ways create a dislike of self. Friends, I want to release you of that. May you find power in releasing those qualities off and free from burden. Those things can still be redeemed.

My mom is a strong woman who has been through many trials in her life. She never ceases to amaze me with her positive outlook towards people. She sees the good in them and supports them with all of who she is. If there is someone hurting, she helps them (as I write that, I am coming to yet another shocking realization – more on that later). This was something I haven’t always appreciated. In high school, there was a lot that happened with my brother starting my freshman year. For the first few years of my high school career, my parents were seemingly preoccupied. My mom has since then told me that it was because she knew I could handle myself. She said that I was quick witted (like my dad), and that her and my brother didn’t have that quality. I tend to disagree with her, especially from what I experienced in grade school – I certainly didn’t feel like I had the right words to say. Fast forward to the gap year between undergrad and grad school when I lived at home for a year. One of her close friends had lost a daughter at a young age pretty traumatically. For the next little while, she was constantly helping her friend. So much so, there was a point where I was jealous of her time. I wanted to spend time with her. I wanted her full attention to be on me. Again, the response was the same – I know you’ll be fine and that you’re strong.

When my dad became sick with leukemia, she spent 5 intense months taking care of him. Since then, she’s taken full care of my grandmother after several surgeries for months at a time. This woman is a true servant. I’m in awe at the level of help she provides at the drop of a hat with no questions asked. There have been times where I’ve thought she’s had a pretty simple perspective on life. Answers to intense questions have been things like “well, just because – you don’t do that. That’s not nice.” Or “Gee, I don’t know Stef.” I can remember being frustrated that she didn’t have the best words for me to say in response to the people who bullied me in school. I wanted something fierce that was going to punish them or make them sorry for what they said the next time it happened. I wanted to be a prepared little fighter who could defend myself. Maybe that’s where my scrappiness comes from. But I can see now that a response like I was hoping for wasn’t something that truly would have given me happiness or joy. Instead, having to face what happened made me who I am today. I too want to help people, and speak out against the bullying and childhood cliques that develop – even in our precious communities that we think are safe. Bullying is not above anyone. Choosing to love people as a response to pain is not easy. My mom’s inability to spit out harsh words and quick jabs was because that’s not her character, not because she’s incapable. She chooses love and sees the good in people, almost to a fault.

I challenge you on this Sunday – what are things you see you get from your mom or dad? After reflecting on maybe where those come from, does it change your perspective?