Your mother’s daughter… 42


You thought that picture was me, didn’t you? ;-)

Actually, that was my mother over 40 years ago, when she was about 20yrs old. Yes, we look scarily alike. All my life, I’ve had people tell me that I look exactly like my mother…which was fine with me, as long as they didn’t tell me I WAS exactly like my mother!

Especially as a teenager keen to establish my definitely-unique-absolutely-original self, I was determined to be a completely different person from my mother. I swore I would never do any of those frustrating, embarrasing things she does – like ask the grocer to bring out his box of fresher cherries from the back of the store so she could pick out the best ones or make you pose for cheesy family photos on holiday or insist that I wipe my face with a hot towel when I’m tired, to “perk me up”…

I spent most of my 20’s manically proving to everybody (and myself) how different from my mother I was. And I thought I succeeded. But recently, I’ve started noticing some disturbing things…

Like the way I never throw away a plastic bag…

(Echo: “Aya! Why wasting money buy plastic bag? Just keep all free one nicely“)

…but always fold it along its seams and add it to a carefully cultivated collection, sorted into Plastic (big & small), Paper, Fancy (for use when visiting people and giving them gifts) and Supermarket (for use as bin liners).

Ah, life may throw me many challenges but I will never be without a plastic bag perfect for any occasion. ;-)

Then there’s the way I can’t fall asleep, even in blisteringly hot weather, unless I have some kind of covering over my stomach…

(Echo: “Aya! Cover stomach! Otherwise cold air go inside belly button – get sick!”)

…and now, after 15 years of marriage, I’ve got my husband panicking as well if his stomach isn’t covered by a sheet or blanket when the lights turn out. ;-)

Then there’s the way I carefully unwrap every present, so as to save the wrapping paper & ribbons for re-use (Echo: “Aya! Don’t waste money buy wrapping paper! Just keep nicely and use again!”) and cut up scrap paper into neat piles to use by the telephone as a DIY notepad (Echo: “What for buy notepad from shop? Don’t waste money! Can make yourself!”) and of course, the way I cut open tubes of face cream & hand cream so that I can scrape out every last drop (Echo: “Aya! So much still inside! Don’t wasting money buy new one”)…

(You’ve probably figured out by now that in Chinese culture, ‘Wasting Money’ is the No. 1 cardinal crime :P )

The day I found myself chasing my tired husband around our house with a steaming towel in my hand, pleading with him that it would help him feel better…I realised I had to face the truth. Oh my God. I have turned into my mother.

In fact, it gets worse. One thing that drives my husband nuts is my – ahem, “relaxed” attitude to expiry dates. Every so often, he will perform a strip search through our pantry, fridge and freezer, holding up old cans and boxes in horror, with me protesting, “Oh, but the expiry’s only 2008 – that’s like only – well, 4 years ago…”

…but I never thought much of it until recently when I remembered my mother telling me a story about my grandmother who loved to hoard and “keep” things, regardless of their expiry dates. As long as they were in the fridge, she thought they would be OK. (She even kept a pair of my dead grandfather’s shoes in the fridge.)

And the awful realisation dawned on me. Not only was I turning into my mother but I was even turning into my grandmother.

Well, I guess that’s it. There’s no hope for me now. Good thing my husband gets on so well with my mother and likes her so much – ‘coz it looks like in another 10 years, he’s going to find himself married to her.

So tell me – are you your mother’s daughter? Do you catch yourself (despite all your efforts) doing & saying things now that your mother always used to say? ;-)


I'd love to hear your thoughts! (Don't worry if your comment disappears - probably gone in Spam but I'll fish it out!)

42 thoughts on “Your mother’s daughter…

  • Nida

    100%. Not only do I look exactly like her, I’ll feel the same way about many things and when I tell her, she’ll say she used to feel the exact same way. In fact, in our culture, many families believe that if you want to know what kind of wife a girl will be, look at her mother.

  • Carol

    Hsin-Yi, I loved this post. My dear sweet mother passed away 2 years ago and I miss her terribly but I find comfort and laughs in the things I do that I remember her doing too. For years I used to say to my kids when they were mucking about inside, “If you kids want to muck about, go outside and do it” then I would look around to see where my mother was, only to realise it was me saying it, haha. I too keep wrapping paper etc, all folded in a particular way for using again. My mum was always rubbing hand cream into her hands and elbows and guess who always does it now. I like to keep a diary, as did my mum. All the wonderful things about my mum, whether strange, funny or whatever, I love them all. She is part of me and boy oh boy, I am so glad of that. Thanks for making me remember the special things about my mum. You have brought a smile to my face. No worries, and love, Carol

  • Vero

    This post is hilarious.
    Yes, in many aspects I’m my mother’s daughter, but I keep fighting on others.
    I have two daughters, and my eldest is really her mother’s daughter. I know it since she started thinking on her own. During her childhood, she did not believe me when I told her I knew was she wasvthinking/doing. Then she went away to study, before coming back home as a young adult. And reality hit her. We are really very much alike, ending each other’s sentences, buying the same clothes althought not together, same voice, same moves, etc… I’m very close to my other daughter too, but not to that extreme (she took more from her father).
    I have not met my niece for a long time, then spent a weekend with her. It went “oh, you do that like your mother”(‘ my sister), or ” you just look like your sister” ( her mother). So I guess the trait runs in the family:-)
    Ps what’s wrong with expirity dates? I agree with you, what are 4 years in a life?

  • sara

    I think this is quite true for allof us! Jeff is constantly telling me, “You sound like your mom!” Good thing he likes my mom :)

    Your mom sounds like a very smart lady.

    I cracked up over the cover your belly one!

  • Angella

    I was JUST telling my husband last night after one of my “whole house blitzes” (which involves tidying the entire house in a very short amount of time) that I get these notions from my Mom. She was notorious for a house blitz, and usually performed one in the late evening hours…which is when I do them too. I miss her every day and have mom-envy of all who still have theirs. :)

  • Lexi and Jasper the Danes

    I don’t know whether this is a good thing since I’m female, but I definitely don’t look much like my mother…more like my father. So a guess you could say I am more of my father’s daughter!!

    I do though also save plasic bags and wrapping paper and I also have to have my stomach covered if I want to fall asleep – didn’t aquire any of those from my parents though!

    ~Laura

  • hjw1985

    oh hahaha that’s funny.
    I have noticed things about myself though, that are much like my mother… but I don’t think we look alike, then again, I could be wrong.

  • Barb Dagger

    Yes, I am like my mother in some ways..and like my aunt in others. However, from the opposite perspective, I see my two daughters, and laugh at how much they are like me, like my mother, like my husband’s mother, like my aunt, even like our respective grandmothers. I can only hope that they are smarter than I, and can overcome some of the potholes. And I have, at least, NEVER said to either of them “I really hope you have a daughter just like you some day!”

    I hope that slows down the cycle, at least a bit.

    b

  • Dorothy S in Michigan

    When it comes to your mother, I am in great awe! The first thing I notice is how beautiful she is. Then, as you tell your stories I greatly admire how she raised four children while moving around place to place.

    I’m about her age and also have moved many times, but mostly IN Michigan. I did, however, leave Colorado when I got married at 18. The sad thing was that due to the cost of travel I did not get to spend time with my brother and sister and their children after that. As much as I love my life here, not being with my family is one of the biggest regrets of my life.

    I pressed upon my sons to stay here when they grew up. So far they have, but the economy here is difficult, so I have reminded them to go where they need to if the time comes.

    Back to your mother, she must be quite a lady! Thank you for telling us about her. I hope it is fun to look in the mirror, or to examine your habits and to be reminded of her. I hope that someday she will visit you in Australia.

  • Diane Taylor

    For sure i am my mother’s daughter. But recently with my father’s health deteriorating slowly away, I am reminded of how much of him I truly have in me. I am an early riser – so is he. I go to bed early – so does he. I love to watch my husband build things from scratch. I used to sit in my father’s workshop for hours on end, watching him build things. I love to do cross stitch and I taught him how to do it – until recently he loved it too, until his eyes no longer see that well to finish a piece he started. He loved to dance – and he used to pratice with me in the livign room, twirilng me around! He taught me to follow my heart – and always put my best foot forward. A lesson I carry on – because I am my father’s daughter. Years ago I gave hima small plaque that he keeps out at all times: “To the first man I ever loved – my daddy”. Love you Dad – love you Mom. I am who I am today because of you.

    • Hsin-Yi

      Diane – what a lovely comment! It was wonderful reading how you used to do things with your father and how much of him you always hold in your heart. What that plaque says is so true – well, for many girls anyway! (I never had much of a father figure in my life and always envied my girlfriends who had a close relationship with their fathers! :-) )

  • brooke

    ahahah I have to admit I do some of the same things! (not the keeping things past their expiration date)
    My sister was just here recently and I was laughing at how SHE’s doing a lot of things like my mom. It cracked me up. I know I do somethings like my mom, but my sister… man. haha But then again that could be me in 2 years.

  • Melanie

    “Cold air in belly button”… that’s just funny!!! And it’s even more hilarious that you do the same thing now, Hsin-Yi!

    I was very much my father’s daughter as a child, in looks and interests, though as I get older I think I’m starting to look more and more like my mother. It’s funny that you should post this now, as my mother is actually here for a long visit and I’ve been reminded several times already how much I am NOT like her….. She’s WAAAYYY more patient and nicer than me, for one thing :-) And she’s got this interest in shopping that I just totally don’t get……though I’ll go along with it for a while if she’s buying ME stuff :-P

    P.S. — the pic of you and your mom is simply lovely!!

    • Hsin-Yi

      Oh Melanie – don’t get me wrong – I’m still a VERY different person from my mother and there are lots of things/ways where I’m nothing like her. Yes, shopping is one – my mother is a complete shopaholic – she can shop morning, noon, night, everyday, nonstop, whereas I have to be in the right mood to feel like shopping (usually only get the urge every couple of months! ;-) ) – but like you, I’ll accompany her and humour her.

      I think it was more the little habits and things she used to say – that I’m finding myself echoing now as well! :P

  • Michelle/Mickle in NZ

    When ever I stay with my parents I answer their phone “Hello, this is Michelle” otherwise the caller thinks I am my mother as our voices are similar. I took this up after a few confused conversations!

    And I wouldn’t mind being mistaken for Mum if only she had shared her height with me – I am shorter than both my folks by about 5 inches and my older sister is taller too – the sibling height difference is less than an inch but it all counts when you are the younger one!!!

    • Hsin-Yi

      Yeah, Michelle – I’m with you on this one! I wish I had more of my mother’s height – and her boobs! ;-) I always complain to her for making me flat-chested, when she’s got a decent cleavage herself – hee! hee! Not fair! :P

  • ann marie

    i think im more like my dad. although people are telling me more and more i look like my mom but i dont see it. however my daughters fell directly under my tree. they dont look anything like me but they are like little mini me’s in their interests and choices of men (bad bad choices!!!). bubba of course is the son im never going to have and he is JUST like me. NUTS!!!! or should i say crazy like a fox!

    • Hsin-Yi

      Well, they do say dogs & owners start to resemble each other! I think I’ve got a long way to go yet, with Honey – I do wish I had more of her calm, placid attitude to things and easy-going nature! :P

  • woolsnob

    Unfortunately I am my father’s daughter. I find myself waking up at the crack of dawn, Singing loudly, listening to the same music OVER and OVER and OVER again, giving my opinion where it’s not necessary, and on and on and on. I’m horrified when I realize I have his habits, so I just try not to think about it too much.

  • Jerry D. Patillo, CPDT-KA (Happy Human on Facebook)

    Hsin-Yi, I cried with so much laughter when I read your post. My Chinese wife is 45 years old this year, and I am her American husband (a few years older, ahem!). So many things you mentioned are things that I, too, experience often, if not every day. So, in America I experience culture shock every day! :) In my house, it’s “Save money, Save money, Save money!” Why? So we can buy her daughter (my wonderful step-daughter, whom I love as my own) the best cell phone, clothes, food, and college education. I love my two Chinese girls (wife and step-daughter) with all my heart. And they like my two dogs, so that makes it all worthwhile! All the best to you and Paul, and of course to Honey and Muesli. :)

    • Hsin-Yi

      Hi Jerry – am so glad you commented as it’s lovely to have a man’s point of view! ;-) And how funny that you should experience the same thing, even though you’re not the Chinese daughter yourself and as you say, you’re in America! :P You sound like a lovely guy who has really embraced Chinese customs & traditions, for your wife & daughter…you’re the perfect ‘egg’! :D (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, read my 1st post! ;-) )

  • hisqueen

    I am my step mother’s daughter. We never got along when I was a teen and even in my early 20’s. Now, my 16yr old son tells me “your just like grandma.” restaurants are the worst for the rest of the family. We question everything, ask for things to be a certain way and in general annoy the waiters and our families by being picky. As she says, if I’m paying for it, I want it the way I want it. Even my husband laughs when I do something or say something just the way she does. Just like you, thank goodness my husband adores my parents and they adore him, because in a few more years he’ll be married to me as my step mom.

  • Lassiter Chase & Benjamin the Shelties

    Yes! Grandma would always go to the supermarket and use up her pennies at the cash register. Mommy used to be so embarrased as a kid by Grandma counting all her pennies to hand to the cashier. Even if Grandma had quarters or dimes in her wallet — she would always insist on “using up her pennies!” About a year ago, Mommy went shopping with her oldest niece. Mommy counted out about 40some cents in pennies to hand to the cashier. Mommy’s niece is like — I have a quarter — Mommy was hushing her niece. “I’m trying to use up my pennies.” That’s when Mommy knew — she is turning into Grandma. Which is totally ok, since Grandma has so many good traits — but it was one of those “Aya!” moments for Mommy. Oh, and we even came up with a system to fold plastic bags in our house too — takes up less room when you fold them just right!

    • Hsin-Yi

      Oh Lassiter – that story about counting pennies is the funniest thing! Loved it! Yes, I have a lot of those moments now where I stop short and catch myself doing something and thinking, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m doing it too!!” :P

  • Jed & Abby in MerryLand

    The older I get, the more I become my paternal grandmother. My grandmother was not a fan of the social changes that occurred in the 1960’s when I was in college, and I can remember her shaking her head and muttering the world was going to hell in a hand basket. Now I find myself having the same reaction to some of the changes in American society [particularly the political dysfunction and decline in civility], and muttering the exact same comment. I also treasure my grandmother’s lessons in giving necessary but unimportant things like housework ‘a lick and a promise.’

    You’re so lucky to still have your mom. Treasure your time together. And your similarities.

    ML

  • Sophie

    I can relate to your post, well except that I look like my mothers side of the family yet I am told I am more like my dad personality wise.
    I am like my father in that we both have an intolerance for stupidity (arrogance and people being cruel/mean to others), can eat the exact same thing for lunch everyday for an extended period of time (my father having his cheese and salami sandwich and I with my vegemite sandwich) and well lets just say that we have been known to get grumpy/sulk/have a tantrum on the odd occasion.
    My father, my paternal grandmother, my sister and I are fiercely loyal (sometimes to a fault) and it seems that when we see someone being bullied we have an instinctual pull to defend them (be it a younger sibling being picked on by their elder, or someone harassing a stranger).

    On my mothers side of the family I share a striking resemblance with my mother and grandfather while as you stated wanting to be seen as an ‘individual’ who is nothing like her family. Hehe I’m still in my twenties but do believe that children do become their parents (In at least some shape or form). I think it all comes down to the idea that humans want to see themselves as unique yet still want to be apart of “the group.” And by being raised by specific people some of their values and opinions rub off on you.

    In all I at times I see the distinct similarities between my family and I while at other times I can’t believe that I share DNA yet alone any personality traits.
    This post has made me think, and is a very engaging topic.
    Thank-you for being a “long” post writer (I am currently having the opposite problem in having to short a word count at university, something that has never happened to me in the past but has been annoying me for the past semester).