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Mom Talk: Am I My Mother?

Written by Robin Weiss

Photography by Photographed By Lily Frances

We’re back with another round of “Mom Talk”, where we invite some incredible mothers, from all walks of life, to share their personal experiences and journeys through motherhood, whether it be struggles, triumphs, or anything in-between—nothing’s off limits when it comes to topics. This week, Robin Weiss discusses her decision as a single-mother to move in full-time with her own mom, and the surprising discoveries that revealed about the qualities she had in common with her. -JKM

For a long time, I believed that in one way or another we become our mothers. After having my twin girls, I came to this understanding after years of observing, reading, and talking to friends. I had kids much later in life than most mothers I know, and I must admit that my experience is quite different than others. But, for years, I had to continuously check in with myself and ask: Am I, in fact, becoming my mother?

To clarify, I am a single mom. I have lived with my own mother full-time for nearly three years. I had twin girls and needed the help and support. As soon as my girls turned four days old, promptly upon leaving Roosevelt Hospital, my mother (my oldest friend) and I drove almost two and a half hours together to our new life in Upstate New York. I was completely scared out of my freckled skin.

Ever since that day, I would think back and the question would return. “Have I really become my mother?” The thought scared the shit out of me. You see, my mother was a single mom, too. She worked full-time and went to college, while raising my sister and me. My mother is pretty damn amazing. Everyone loves her. I love her. But, you can be sure as hell that I never wanted to be her.

I do have to give her credit, however. My mom fully participates in raising my girls. I should be (and I am) utterly grateful that in her golden years—the years of growing old gracefully and enjoying life at her leisure—she has chosen to help me with crying babies and dirty diapers.

Even still, as soon as we embarked on our adventure under the same household, my mother began to get on my nerves. Everything she did and the way she did it bugged me to no end. What was even more unsettling was that I began to identify certain qualities in myself that I used to see in my mother growing up. When I first became a new mom, I had no idea what I was doing, but she knew everything. And, it drove me nuts. As time went on, I caught myself doing the same things she would—simple mannerisms marked by the everyday characteristics of being the daughter of my mother. And, although we were similar and not the same, I didn’t like it one bit. Because of this, we would fight over stupid stuff, even yelling and and cursing (I had never cursed at my mom before), until our voices mellowed and all we could do was look at each other, take a breath, and go our separate ways for a bit. There were so many times I wanted to give up and just smoke cigarettes! My mother smoked, while I was growing up, and I figured if we were so similar, I might as well puff away! I didn’t in the end. I knew it wasn’t worth it.

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to do or how to handle the situation. Having my mother in such close proximity only reignited the question I had been asking myself since day one. I would sit in my bed at night, and while my girls slept I would ask them if I was the mirror image of their grandma. Was it a bad thing to become my mother? No. But, I didn’t want to be her. I wanted to be different. My mom didn’t have an easy life. And, as a new mother myself, I wanted things to be a little easier for me and for my kids.

One morning, I slept in a bit and came downstairs. As my mother was feeding my girls breakfast, I watched from afar thinking about this question I had been struggling with, thinking to myself, “Am I my mother?” This time, another revelation came. Is becoming my mother such a bad thing? That moment was truly eye-opening. The way that my mother interacted with my girls was so sweet, natural, and easy—the smiles and the giggles and the mess. Everyone was having a great easy time.

Suddenly, out of the blue, my mother sees me on the stairs and yells, “Let’s go! Let’s have a life experience. It’s too cold and too isolating up here for the girls. I need a change. You need a change. We need a change!” So, we decided to put the house up for sale and move somewhere new, a place with better weather and better school options for the girls. We wanted a one-of-a-kind adventure.

The house sold in two weeks, but we were left with the question of where to go. My mother decided on Mexico. Merida, in fact, the capitol of the Yucatan. It was a colonial city that was safe and rich with diversity. It also had affordable, good schools and great weather. It wasn’t far from the U.S. So, we bought four one-way plane tickets and with a leap of faith, we went once again to another new life. And, despite my fear of becoming her, I felt incredibly lucky to yet again have my mother and her wisdom and energy surrounding us. She’s the one who got us through every day.

Through all our ups and downs, adventures and quick decisions, I have learned that in the end I do have a lot of what my mother has: a certain zest for life, bravery, the innate desire to explore and appreciate the world, the strength and desire to create a better future for my family. So, am I my mother? Of course not. My mother is apart of me, though. I have inherited parts of her in one way or another, the sticky and the messy, the strengths and the weaknesses. I may have developed her legacy, but I am not my mother. I am me.

Are you a mom with something to say? Send us an email to be considered for our “Mom Talk” column.

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