What my 8-year-old self couldn’t possibly have known is that, no matter how much you convince yourself you’ll never be like your mother, once you have kids, all bets are off. As soon as my son arrived, I found myself saying or doing things that sounded exactly like my mother. For God’s sake, I can’t even walk by a mirror these days without being shocked because I look so much like her (thanks for the nose, Mom).
Now that I am the mother of two teens, not a day goes by that I don’t make them cringe, too, as I channel my own embarrassing mom — and I know she’s going to love this list.
1. She didn’t understand the VCR. I can’t log into my iCloud account.
No matter how many times we tried to show her, my mom could never figure out how to tape a show. She’d ask us, and we’d roll our eyes and snark about how a monkey could tape Oprah. But I eat every single word of that snark when I beg my son to help me figure out my iCloud account. And my daughter rolls her eyes every time I ask her to “tape” something on the DVR. Shut up. I just want to watch Grey’s, kid. Make it happen.
2. She told embarrassing stories at Bunco. I have Facebook to brag about my kids.
Nothing drove me crazier than to have a neighbor squeeze my cheeks and say, “Your mom told me about you getting your new bra!” or something equally as embarrassing. Nowadays, my kids will yell, “Don’t you dare post this on Facebook!” when they do something embarrassing or funny. Uh huh. Sure, kids…
3. She made me eat food I hated.
My least favorite dinner as a kid was frozen fish sticks and fries. When my mom would cheerfully tell me fish caught by the yellow fisherman was on the menu, I cringed. And as I painfully swallowed every bite, I promised myself I’d never force such horror on my kids. Judging from the way my kid wailed over lima beans the other night, I think it’s safe to say I broke that promise.
4. She channeled her inner Incredible Hulk in order to get us to clean our rooms.
We always knew our summer afternoon of watching MTV was going to be interrupted when we’d hear the sound of the vacuum and smell the Pine-Sol wafting in the air. My mom would be in a cleaning frenzy, and then her shirt would split open and she’d let her Hulk go, and man, did we move. Our rooms would be spotless, dishes would be loaded, and we’d be sweeping just to keep the Hulk at bay. My kids see my inner Hulk at least once a week. OK, more like twice a week.
5. She always made embarrassing small talk with my dates as she drove us places.
Teen dating is hard enough, but it’s even harder when you can’t drive yet. My mom happily drove my dates and me to dances, and I used to pray the car seat would swallow me as she made small talk. I swore I’d never do that to my kid. I thought I was doing well with my teen son until recently when he asked if I could sit at a different table when he took a young lady out for fro-yo so they could chat privately. Well, son, then you are paying for my ice cream.
6. She did obnoxious goodbyes in the carpool line.
When my mom dropped me off at my high school, she’d yell singsong goodbyes, and my mortification was deep, and it was real. I’d hang my head and scurry into the school to avoid having to acknowledge her. And now when I yell, “Tuck and roll!” with Katy Perry blaring as my middle-schooler gets out of the car, I realize that my mother laughed her ass off all the way home, because obnoxious goodbyes are just fun.
7. It took her forever to find anything, anywhere.
Whether it was rooting through her Mary Poppins-sized purse for her grocery bonus card, searching the junk drawer for Scotch tape, or looking for her keys, my mom took forever for everything, always. Or at least that’s what my 10-year-old self thought. Now as I wander through my life as a mom with a confused look and a perpetual “where’s my…?” question on my lips, I realize that we kids drove her to the brink of insanity, because I can’t find my keys, ever, and I know it’s not my fault.
8. She sounded stupid when she was really angry.
There were times when my mom was so angry at us that she sounded like she was speaking in tongues. Incomprehensible statements, guttural grunts, and run-on sentences would have made us laugh, save for her wild eyes and red face. When I yelled, “Don’t look at me in that tone of voice” like a madwoman last week, I caught a glimpse of my son trying to stifle his laughter. He didn’t dare, though, because wild eyes.
9. She hid the good candy.
Once, I found a stash of almond chocolate hidden in a drawer in the family room. When I asked about it, my mom snatched it away and yelled at me to mind my own business. I remember thinking it was awfully selfish of her to not share. Now? I act like a wild person when my kids get near my stockpile of Dove chocolates.
10. She used to warn me that I’d understand—someday.
When she used to yell at me, “Some day when you have kids, you’ll understand!” in a frustrated huff as she cleaned up another giant mess we had made in the kitchen, my 10-year-old self used to roll my eyes. I mean, how hard could it possibly be to raise kids? Now, as I struggle every day to be the best mom I can be to my two kids, I realize just how hard she worked for us. So, Mom? Someday is here. And I get it.