It started with the tone in your voice. You heard it the first time you screeched to your children: “Because I said so.” It took you back a bit; you were flabbergasted by the words escaping your mouth, and felt a slight chill go down your spine as you thought, Was that me or is she here? And finally: Am I in trouble too?
No, you’re not in trouble, but you are turning into your mother. As an angsty teen, you screamed at the top of your lungs from the staircase, stamping up to your Smashing Pumpkins-postered room and Delia’s-catalog mess of a floor that “When I grow up, I’ll NEVER be like you!”
But guess what, sunshine, she’s here—and she’s not going anywhere.
In honor of Mother’s Day, here are eight telltale signs you too may be turning into your mother and why that's actually a good thing. Take a deep breath; it’s all going to be OK.
1. “I’m not a short-order cook.”
It’s not our fault we fretted over every morsel of food that entered our child’s body when they were so teensy and small. Your main goal was to make sure your children were properly fed, to the point where you tracked their meals in your head daily. But now? They have taken this new-mom neurosis and turned it against us. Eggs for one? French toast for another? No shot. One meal, one house, one family. If you don’t eat, you go hungry. How evil and cruel. And how deliciously accurate and fitting for me to understand this as a mom.
2. You ask questions such as, “Is it so hard to put a towel in a hamper? Really?”
It’s not a rhetorical question. You sometimes wonder if your children can actually compute this simple task, since it’s asked about three times a day. Will it ever end? Will they live in squalor as an adult because a daily chore seems so hard to accomplish? Hopefully, if we keep hammering away at this, they will eventually realize a clean room is a clean mind. Feng shui for tweens—something I can get behind.
3. “If you want something, get it yourself.”
I can recall screaming for my mom to bring something to my room for me from 30 feet away. If I only knew young Kelly then, I’d tell her, a) clean laundry does not belong under your bed, b) sheer laziness is not cute and c) if you really want to borrow your mom’s brush/makeup/blowdryer, get it yourself. She is clearly trying to make you work for every aspect of life because no one is going to teach you to hustle except yourself.
4. “I will give you to the count of three...”
Yeah, this never worked and never will. My kids caught on to me early. “Three” would arrive and, yes, the world did not end. It merely provided a very scary moment in their lives to rethink their choices. “Three” meant you just stepped over a boundary you shouldn't; “three” meant “game on.” I’ve realized now that instead of timing them—whether it’s to brush their teeth to get out the door for school or timing them to run upstairs to get their homework the words “on your mark” just work better.
Finding happiness outside of your family is food for your soul and flexes your independent muscles.
5. “A real friend wouldn’t treat you like this.”
I think I am personally still working on this idea, and who isn’t. Nothing is worse than seeing your child’s feelings get hurt by another child. I see red; I want to go for blood when this happens. But as my husband says, “File your claws, mama bear.” Kids need to evaluate and constantly reevaluate the types of people they want to spend their time with. I can’t tell my kids who to be friends with, but I hope from the way we treat each other at home, it transcends into budding friendships that are grounded in respect.
6. “Whatever you say, you can never take back so choose your words wisely.”
A simple idea but one with lasting effects. You can never take back those moments or words, especially when directed at friends or family. The first time my daughter told me she never wanted to speak to me again—she’s a peach, I know—I calmly let that idea sink in and responded like my mother always did: “Choose your words wisely.”
7. You have a quiet place in your house to get away from kids/husbands/animals/work.
I used to find my mom gardening in the afternoon when I came home from school. She was covered in mulch, weeds, mud, anything, and she was happier than a pig in... Anyway, it was her quiet, happy place away from us. And how dare she find happiness that doesn’t include her children? I get it now. Finding happiness outside of your family is food for your soul and flexes your independent muscles.
8. Old lady walks are the epitome of time well spent with friends.
Mock away but slow, languid walks with friends, breaking zero sweat, is always time well spent with the women in your life. It’s basically free therapy and it will make us all better women and moms.
Kelly Florio Kasouf is an author, essayist and longtime magazine vet—and, now, a contributing editor at VB Edit. Read more of her writing here.