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 )
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?