I texted my mom the other day and told her the inevitable was happening: I was turning into her. She seemed pleased. We had a good laugh. I’m 40 now and I vividly remember when my mom turned 40. I was 10. We had a surprise 40th birthday party for her and she was wearing a navy blue dress with a large white lace half circle collar. It was the 80’s. She had short curly hair. At the time, I thought she was so old! After all, her hair had begun to turn gray! She fell asleep on the couch each night watching TV!
Now when I look back at her 40th birthday party pictures, I think she looks so young and vibrant. 40 isn’t even mid-life. And when I look at myself, now 40, I look older than I used to, no doubt, but I don’t look old enough to be 40, do I? I still think like a young person. I know what “on fleek” means, even if I had to google it first. There was that one time I accidentally called a hashtag a pound sign, but come on, everyone makes mistakes!
Yes, life has come full circle in so many ways. Besides me being almost 40 with a 10 year old daughter, yanking gray hairs out of my head to avoid the inevitable need to dye, and dozing off on the couch by 8pm when really I’m just “resting my eyes,” there is also something else I’ve slowly started doing over the past five or so years that is completely reminiscent of my mom…
I’ve started talking to random people.
As a kid, I was constantly embarrassed by my mom chatting up strangers. I couldn’t understand why she would waste so much of her energy and my time just talking to people she didn’t even know! I tried to shrink into the shadows when she did this, and she did it all the time! I tried to hurry her along and did a lot of eye rolling. At the store, at my school, in the line at the grocery store… I was humiliated, and I let her know how uncool it was to be so friendly. I was certain that random people didn’t want to talk to my mom either. The world was supposed to revolve around me, and I felt this unnecessary friendliness was ridiculous.
One of my most embarrassing moments from high school was a time my mom picked me up from speech and debate practice after school when I was a freshman. We lived about 4-5 blocks from the school and as we drove home, we passed by a senior who was also on the speech and debate team, walking down the road. I thought this guy was pretty cute but I never, ever would have admitted it. I just knew I was going to die a slow and painful death when my mom suggested we pull over and ask him if he needed a ride. No, I insisted! Really, he most certainly DID NOT need a ride, especially not from us! But my mom, being the friendly and helpful person she was, pulled over to the side of the road, rolled down MY window, leaned over me, and offered the guy a ride. She even took it a step further and chatted with him about school and sports. I was absolutely horrified as I melted into my seat. Thankfully he declined the offer and said he was just getting some exercise. This embarrassed me even more, because who asks someone who is out exercising if they need a ride? We drove away and I swore I would never be able to show my face at school again.
My girls are not even teenagers and yet they’ve already coached me not to talk, hum, or especially sing in public. I’m allowed to sing in the car, quietly, on limited occasions. And the times we’re walking on a beautiful day and I feel a joyful spirit tell me to jump up and click my heels? Not a chance. They’d rather die. If I say hello to someone (especially a boy) from their school that they weren’t planning on saying hello to? Major faux pas. The times I talk with another mother or teacher at the kids’ school, or make small talk about the weather with a stranger? “Oh, Mom!” If I see someone in uniform or wearing a veteran hat and choose to shake their hand and thank them for their service? Well, I just as soon could have run out of the house naked based on the way my kids react, utterly embarrassed and horrified.
Perhaps it’s just a rite of passage to be horribly embarrassed and humiliated by your parents’ mere existence? What goes around really comes around when it comes to kids being embarrassed by their parents. Maybe it’s a just a matter of growing up and gaining more life experience to make you not only appreciate your parents but understand where they were coming from? One day you realize interacting with your fellow human beings isn’t so bad after all and being yourself is okay. If my children don’t die of humiliation, it will only make them stronger! Excuse me while I go embarrass my children now, right before I fall asleep on the couch with the TV on.