(photo: my mom on her family’s farm)
I have always thought of myself as my father’s daughter.
There was a picture hanging in my grandmother’s home of my dad his senior year of high school, his hair slicked back, his sly smile flashing even through the black and white and years that passed. When I was little I could slick my hair back after having a bath and I swore I looked just like him, a tomboy’s dream. But everyone knew my mom best because she was the town doctor, so it was always my mom that they would see in me. “You look just like your mother,” they would say, touching my hair or pinching my cheeks. It didn’t help when we had the same perm when I was in third grade, which I’ve now decided should have been grounds for child abuse charges. And then once I hit my unimpressive full height of 5’3″ by junior high, I stood shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip with her. Suddenly everyone thought we were mirror images.
Seriously, I look much more like my dad.
So I went about finding my own look and doing my own thing. My Pap had a snarky way of being contrary in every possible situation and was known to say, “He looks like himself!” whenever old ladies clucked over a baby trying to decide what familiar features he had inherited. I thought my Pap had the right idea. I dressed weird, I cut my hair, I died it blue. I wore a fake nose ring until I was eighteen and could get the real deal. I was myself. I wasn’t my older brother, and I made sure the math teacher knew it. I would not be my older brother’s replacement as the teacher’s pet. I was not my mother as I dropped the flute and took up percussion. Who says I need to play her old instrument. And even though I still thought I took after my father, I was clearly not him. After all, I dreamed of Mustangs, not Corvettes. I was a Ford girl.
And yet here I am, thirty-three, and becoming my mother.
I used to watch her with wonder-filled eyes as she rubbed moisturizer into her skin every night and sometimes in the morning. How on earth could her skin handle that, I thought, as I scrubbed one more time at my oily nose. I looked at her curves as she got ready in the morning and pondered what having kids does the body and how I was thankful that my curves seemed to pop and flow in different places. Clearly she wasn’t happy with where hers showed up because she was on the exercise bike every night, sweating away.
Now I touch my face and I feel the flaky skin, sometimes heading back for a second round of the moisturizer I use every morning. I look at my c-section scar, not quite the same as the one from her appendicitis, but not that different, and I stare at the exercise equipment in my house, wondering how to get the curves to go back to where they were ten years ago. I hear her words coming out of my mouth, catch myself holding my head in the same way when I’m thinking, even laugh the same as her sometimes.
I may still be my father’s daughter. But somehow…I’ve also become just like my mother.