I Am Nothing Like My Mom -- And That's A Good Thing

by Jennifer Craven
Originally Published: 
A three-part collage of Jennifer Craven's mom and a turkey, them posing together and Jennifer's self...
Jennifer Craven

Here’s how I knew—for sure—that my mother and I are cut from a different cloth: When I watched her chase and catch a mouse with her bare hands (what, not even rubber kitchen gloves?) while I stood on the dining room table screaming like a toddler. I mean, seriously, she grabbed that rodent with her bare friggin’ hands like it was NBD. Excuse me while I gag and then put my house up for sale.

You know the phrase, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”? Well, let’s just say that when I fell from the tree as a newborn, I rolled clear down the hill and into the next town (or state, for that matter). People have always commented that my mother and I look just alike—which we do—but aside from our crimson locks and freckled cheeks, we couldn’t be more different.

From hobbies, to styles, to preferences, it didn’t take long for us to realize that we’re one seriously contrasting mother-daughter duo.

I like to (lovingly) refer to her as my Mountain Woman, having once lived, literally, on a mountain in a log cabin. Her “she shed” is a mix of taxidermy—her trophies from various hunts through the years—and lodge-inspired décor. Mine? Pretty traditional meets modern. Boring, some would say. Sparse walls, neutral colors…nothing with antlers or fur.

Open our closets and you’ll see wardrobes fit for two very different lifestyles. My tweed is contrasted by her camouflage. My heels by her Crocs. Instead of emailing a few Christmas gift suggestions, she hands me the latest Legendary Whitetails hunting magazine with circled images of her top apparel picks. When I told her I was getting Keratin, she thought I had purchased a metal container with little orange vegetables.

Despite our differences, we still enjoy each other’s company—even if her preference is going for a walk in the woods and mine is binge-watching the hottest new show. Our conversations are often prefaced with, “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.” (Her: “I shot him broadside, now I gotta go quarter him up, but I’m keeping the rack.” MMMMMK. Me: “I crowdsourced anecdotes for a timely piece that I’m planning to pitch to a literary mag.” That’s nice, honey.)

Instead of fighting our dissimilarities, we’ve learned to accept, laugh about, and even use them to our advantage. Born with the green thumb that I seriously lack, she has done landscaping around my house and is the first person I call when I have a dumb question like, “How often should I water my hanging plants?” Likewise, she relies on me for any writing needs, as well as non-camo fashion choices.

Needless to say, I’m a far cry from a carbon copy of my mother. And truthfully, maybe that’s a good thing. I love seeing mother-daughter pairs with similar interests, and once upon a time I might have envied such a relationship. But maturity has shown me that wishing for someone to be something they’re not is a recipe for disaster. Sure, my mom and I are like day and night, but mutual respect and desire for each other to live her best life allows us to maintain a healthy, loving connection.

So yeah, there’s plenty of times I wonder how in the hell I came from her. Like when she whipped up a homemade plaster concoction to make a cast of a bear print she found in her yard. Meanwhile, I’m over here thinking I wouldn’t touch a bear print with a 10-foot stick. It’s clear that she’s a nature gal, and I’m of the indoor breed.

Where she zigs, I zag. But what’s wrong with being different? I’m here to tell you: Nothing.

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