Momhood

Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Mirror, Mirror In My Mom

When I was just a little girl,
I asked my mother what will I be.
Will I be pretty, will I be rich?
Here's what she said to me:
"Que Sera Sera, Whatever Will Be, Will Be."


It seems to happen to my daughter and I every time we're shopping for makeup. Since she's not quite 14, that's not very often. Nevertheless, here we were in the department store trying to purchase a few basics that wouldn't turn her into a teenage Tammy Faye Bakker when the "cosmetics consultant" said: "Next week we're having free makeovers. You two could do a mother-daughter thing." I chuckled and my daughter gave her a bewildered and somewhat annoyed look. Later, as we walked away, she said to me: "You know, I don't know why people think we look alike because I don't think we do at all." I sympathetically patted her on the back and said: "I'm sorry honey, but we do." I was OK with this. She was not.

I know that's a bitter pill for my daughter, or perhaps any daughter to swallow. Our mom's face is the one that's been staring at us since birth. When we were babies, it was an oasis of comfort and understanding. As we got older, it was still the one we ran to, or sometimes hid from if we were in trouble. When the teen years arrived, filled with intense self-examination and emotions, it was a face that we simultaneously loved and hated. It was the face which we gazed at with more scrutiny than our own. (Only because staring in the mirror constantly would be so weird!) We looked at that face, mapped it in our mind and made mental notes on what we would do differently to upgrade the family genes.

My daughter and I look very much alike. In fact, my best friend since 4th grade took a photo of my daughter and showed it to her father recently. She asked him if he knew who it was. "Of course," he replied. "It's Karen." It was a story that amused me and irritated my daughter.

I understand her feelings. Ironically, it's one of the few issues between us that I don't take personally. You see, as much as my daughter looks like me, I look like my mother. It seems to be the common denominator between generations, for better or for worse. I'm sure that when I was 14, I reacted similarly when people commented on the resemblance between my mother and I. I only hope that I had the good sense to be subtle in my objections.

Today, I think of my Mom's face as a comforting roadmap of the future. I look at her softened features and I instantly feel at home, even though we live 90 miles apart. I see the wrinkles and crows feet as testimony to a life lived; sometimes sad, sometimes joyous, and often challenging due in no small part to my stubborn attitude, another trait still swimming in the gene pool.

Although none of the women in our family have been blessed with the Demi Moore gene, as in the freakish ability to get better looking as we age, I'm very much at peace with the idea that I, in my middle ages, and my mom, in her senior years, are easily pegged as mother and daughter. Maybe part of that is having friends who have lost their moms much too early and who would give anything just to gaze upon that face again.

To me, the resemblance between the women in my family is a sort of badge of honor. It's that genetic stamp that connects us forever, whether we like it or not. Eventually we learn to accept it. My daughter will get there someday, despite her best efforts.

51 Comments:

At 1:46 PM , Blogger Marisa said...

That made my heart smile.

 
At 2:59 PM , Blogger archshrk said...

Remind her it could be worse. People always said I look like my mother, too. The only difference between my reaction and your daughter's is that I'm a son. No boy wants to look like a girl and I doubt your daughter wants to look like a man, at least I hope not.

 
At 3:59 PM , Blogger Zephra said...

I found out recently that I look just like my Grandma who died before I was born. It meant so much to me. I think if I had found out when I was 14 I would have felt very different.

Demi looks like that thanks to genetics and a good plastic surgeon. Eventually her stuff will shrivel and droop like the rest of us.

 
At 4:15 PM , Blogger Ally said...

A lovely post. Like Zephra, I look very much like photos of my grandmother taken in the 1920's and 30's. It makes me wonder whether perhaps *her* grandmother would recognise herself in me. And whether I might recognise myself in my great-great grandaughters.

Are you going to do the mother-daughter makeover thing?

 
At 4:40 PM , Anonymous netchick said...

Your daughter may not understand it yet, but she's so lucky. I'm adopted, and therefore, have never seen anyone that I resemble. I think it would give me more roots if I had that...

She'll appreciate it one day.

Here via Michele's today!

 
At 5:40 PM , Blogger Finn said...

The curse of mothers and daughters. I don't look like my mother, but I am like her in a lot of ways. I'm not sure which is scarier!

She'll come to appreciate it as she gets older. She's just at that age where she just wants to be herself.

Thanks for stopping by today!

 
At 7:26 PM , Blogger kontan said...

my students call my girls mini-me

some things we just can't help

 
At 8:18 PM , Blogger Star said...

Wonderful post Karen. My olest daughter looks the most like me. When I see old photos of me it is easy to see her in my place. And sometimes when I look in the mirror I am taken by surprise to see my mother staring back. We all sound alike as well. Most people cannot differentiate between myself or my 3 daughters on the phone. It has made for some interesting conversations.

 
At 10:27 PM , Blogger Jess Riley said...

What a sweet story! I'm proud to look like my mom. :-)

 
At 8:33 AM , Blogger Erin said...

The similarities between my mother, my sister and myself are eerie. Buy my daughter? I don't know where she came from! Hello from Michele's. As usual, you have made my day with your writing.

 
At 9:17 AM , Blogger owlhaven said...

I loved this post so much-- I did a spin-off on it this morning if you want to go see it on my blog.
Mary

 
At 10:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember a moment when I was younger....an elderly lady was looking at me very intently. She smiled and walked away. Before she got two steps away from me, she spun around and pointed her finger at me and said "I know who's sister you are!". She was referring to my 50+ year old mother. I was 21 at the time and needless to say, shocked and fearful that I looked like I was 50. But, what I didn't see was that my mother really looked much younger than her true age..and now, with any luck, when I hit 50, so will I.

 
At 12:56 PM , Blogger Juliabohemian said...

post your pictures side by side and we'll tell you.

 
At 3:39 PM , Blogger kenju said...

What a nice post. I always wondered as I was growing up who I really looked like. Since I am adopted, I had no idea where I got my various characteristics. I should think it is a comfort to know where you got "that nose" or those "hands."

At the age of 57,I met my birth mom, and she brought photos of herself my birth dad when they were young. In those photos, I saw the faces of my son and daughter; so close in looks as to be amazing. I resemble his side of the family, while not really looking like him, but my son is a dead ringer for his grandfather. It was odd to discover that at such an advanced age.

 
At 6:23 AM , Blogger Viamarie said...

Same here! But now that I'm in my middle age years, I really look like my mom. She is 79 but looks a lot younger so now I know how I will look when I get there.

Michele sent me.

 
At 6:29 AM , Blogger Lazy Daisy said...

Wow, what a powerful post. I hope you can get that concept through to your daughter one day. It's a "These are the women I come from....concept." Well done! Love it! Here from Michele's but I'll be back!

 
At 11:44 AM , Blogger WendyWings said...

I lost my mother when she was 49 so I can relate to the wanting to see that face once more.
My 17 year old looks NOTHING like me at all and no one ever picks us as mother and daughter. She has her Dads genetics, my younger daughter is my mini me.
Michele sent me today

 
At 12:09 PM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a lovely heartfelt post this is! So very sweet and so true, too. Hopefully your daughter will feel as you do now about your Mom, later...after she is a bit older...

Here from Michele today, and always lovely to visit you!

 
At 1:21 PM , Blogger kenju said...

Karen, Michele sent meback today! Hope you are well.

 
At 1:48 PM , Blogger Staci said...

I used to be angry that everyone confused me with my 15 year older twin sisters who are now 50.

Now they look more and more like my mother (so I know I will look the same) and my mom looks more and more like my grandmother who would have been 94 this year.

It is endearing to me now, but certainly not when I was 14.

I used to not ever want to be like my mom and now I find I am more like her everyday.

I call it a blessing. It could be worse- we could look like men!!! LOL

Michelle sent me!

 
At 1:56 PM , Blogger KaraMia said...

I used to hate it when people said that I looked like my mom. Now that she's gone, it's a comfort for me.

 
At 1:57 PM , Blogger KaraMia said...

ohh. and here via michele today

 
At 4:49 PM , Blogger Cin said...

What a wonderful post. When I was younger I would look in the mirror and see my grandmother, as my mom and I didn't really look alike.

Now I'm older, and I sometimes startle myself when I see that strange wide-eyed glint, or the way the eyebrow cocks sarcastically...

Michele sent me.

 
At 6:01 PM , Blogger dena said...

Oh, yes. A friend and I were having this conversation at work the other day. We discussed how our daughter denied looking like us, and then we remembered we used to do the same. They see us as "old", and we see them as our reflections. In a few years, their opinions change, as mine did in regard to my mother. But when we're young, we all do it.

visting from michele's

 
At 10:41 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

what a great post! I've always looked more like my dad, but the older I get I look more like Mom. Weird! Michele sent me!

 
At 10:47 PM , Blogger margalit said...

My 13.5 yo daughter looks remarkably like my mother. People say she looks like me, but I don't see it at all. She hates that she looks like my mother, but she loves that she could be the twin of her cousin. Those genes must be really strong!

Via Michelle

 
At 10:57 PM , Blogger David said...

if you want a new template - barbara ( who posts comments on my blog did my template and pics, she can help you.

 
At 8:11 AM , Anonymous Electric Short said...

me and my great grandfather ( whom ive never met) look almost identical. Have an old pic of him when he was young, It really freaks me out! from Michele

 
At 8:24 AM , Blogger The Mistress of the Dark said...

At one point last year I found an old photo of my mum from her first communion. It was like looking at an old photo of me.

Here via Michele's

 
At 9:57 AM , Blogger Carmi said...

I think we have another candidate for publication. This is just beautiful. I related so well to it because I look at my wife and our daughter and I often think exactly the same thing.

The word I like to use when I write is "relatable". It defines how much of a connection the reader would feel when reading your piece. This one nails the bullseye.

 
At 9:58 AM , Blogger utenzi said...

Michele sent me to see you, Karen.

I don't look all that much like either parent though I probably take after the maternal line a bit more. Both my brother and I were very much "shuffled" genetically. I have no idea how I'd have reacted in my teen years if my experience was like your daughter's and yours, Karen. It'd be a bit spooky to look that much like your mother and grandmother--but I can see how it'd be comforting as you got older as well.

 
At 10:53 AM , Blogger Plumkrazzee said...

Beautiful

 
At 12:08 PM , Anonymous mar said...

Great reading. Thank you.

 
At 2:27 PM , Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

Yeah, that Demi Moore gene...the one that lets us know who the best plastic surgeon in town is, that one is hard to come by. HA!

I understand your daughter because I was told I looked like my mom growing up too. It's just that period of time when you're trying to be independent and you don't want to be like your Mom of all people! HA! But, your outlook on it is just beautiful and she will one day, I am sure, feel the same way as you do about it all.

 
At 2:27 PM , Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

Oops, Michele sent me!

 
At 9:58 PM , Anonymous Im Chele In [dot]LA said...

Over from the other Michele's...

 
At 10:02 PM , Blogger margalit said...

Back again from Michele. I can't believe you go shopping for makeup with your daughter. I can't think of a more mind=numbing activity with my 13.5 year old daughter. She takes about an hour to make ANY decision. I'd be dying of boredom within minutes!

 
At 5:33 AM , Blogger kenju said...

Karen, come and see my post today. It references one of yours.

 
At 9:27 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful wonderful post! I think my daughter would agree.. Looking like her mother isnt fun. And she is only 6 years old. All the women in my family look alike. Its something i've come to accept. I hope one day my girls accept it..

Michelle sent me.. She says hi!

The page wouldnt fully load for me so I co uld sign in under other..
so here is my info..
Ivy
www.ivytiedup.com

 
At 9:44 AM , Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

An excellent post, Karen, beautifully written.

Michele sent me here.

 
At 2:35 PM , Anonymous Im Chele In [dot] LA said...

aaah pictures....
that will tell the true story..
Over from the other Michele's this morning...
I always love when I come back...

 
At 4:16 PM , Blogger Mamacita said...

The day will come when she will be honored at the comparison.

Hello from Michele's.

 
At 4:26 PM , Blogger WendyWings said...

I was here earlier and commented but hi again from New Zealand.
Michele sent me :)

 
At 9:35 PM , Blogger Guppyman said...

Michele says howdy....

Just tell her she'll get her revenge on her daughter....

 
At 9:40 PM , Anonymous the torch singer said...

Hi there,

Michele sent me...

going to have a look around.

:)

 
At 10:38 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

michele sent me back! THis is really a touching entry...

 
At 10:40 PM , Anonymous Last Girl On Earth said...

This post made me smile. I'm happy to look like my mom. I don't know if I look more like her or my dad, but either way, it's an honor to look like either of them! Very nice post. Nice for Michele to introduce us!

 
At 5:58 AM , Blogger Dave said...

Hi here from Michele's, nice post, I think the Demi Moore gene is the one called plastic surgery!

 
At 12:16 PM , Anonymous Nienke said...

My mom is beautiful. If I could be so lucky to look like her now, let along at 77!
I certainly didn't feel that way when I was 14 tho!
Here from Michele's BTW. Have a great week.

 
At 6:52 AM , Anonymous Janet (fondofsnape@gmail.com) said...

I really didn't look anything like my Mom...I look like my Dad's side of the family...oh, and hi, Michele sent me :)

 
At 6:26 AM , Blogger Robin said...

Well, you know, it could be worse..my oldest Son went straightaway to looking like an exact clone of my mother in his teens. I look like her, myself and I do find it comforting. We have very strong features, so it is nearly unmistakeable. The weird thing is that our childhood pictures look NOTHING alike. She had angular features and dark hair, and I was blonde and soft. Weird!

 

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