It happens to all women. Married, single -sometimes the transition can take years, for others it literally happens overnight, but when it hits you, it hits you! You look in the mirror, you proclaim “Because I said so…” and BAM you’re your mother. I didn’t realize it at first, the evidence was there; the smell of bleach lingering in the air, the old shirts that are now dust rags, lowering the heat in the middle of winter and telling my husband to suck it up and put on a sweater.
Naïve I was to think that I would escape what every woman has tried to run from. My journey was slow and steady, creeping up like a fat guy grabbing a donut. I thought it wouldn’t happen, not to me. I’m so different from my mom. She’s short, okay shorter than me, bleach is her signature smell, like Coco Channels is Sophia Loren’s’, she made a grown man sit up straight at the dinner table with the tilt of her eye and the guy was a stranger! My mom is a great mom, but she ruled with an iron fist because she had five daughters and a sick husband. She needed to control the chaos and if that meant making us use a comb to straighten the fringe on the Oriental rug then, so be it.
I was hopeful because the sound of the vacuum, the sight of a checkbook needing balancing and the thought of corporal punishment sent me running for the hills. I swore when I was a mom I’d only use bleach for laundry. Guess who is disinfecting her floors with it? When those subtle hints wafted to the surface I ignored them until one night in the midst of “Because I said so…” it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had just told my boys sit up straight and wait till your father gets home!
The horror washed over me like flashbacks in a bad war movie. The night before I drank tea while reading Reader’s Digest, that very day I completed four loads of laundry, mopped the floors with bleach, rinsed my mouth with peroxide, and had a home cooked meal on the table by 6:00 p.m. When I realized what had happened my heart started racing, my palms became sweaty and I had to sit down to collect myself. Once I calmed down I ran to the mirror and looking back at me was my mom – a strong, loving and nurturing woman who spoke to me… What pearls of wisdom did she unleash? That towel on the floor wasn’t going to pick up itself.