March 13, 2011

I Wish I Was Just Like My Mother

Oh God. Did I just type that?

I wrote a short story in college -- workshopped it and everything -- with the premise that one of the worst things you can do is tell a woman she's just like her mother. Even worse is illustrating it by calling her by her mother's name.

As in: "OK, whatever, Julie."

(Chills. Up. The. Spine.)

My brother says it when I overreact. My husband says it when I worry too much. My best friend says it when I reach for another Diet Coke and a pack of saltine crackers.

The truth is though, being called by my Mother's name bugs me because I am like my Mother -- when I overreact, when I worry and when I drink too much Diet Coke.

By the time you've become a woman of your own, you've worked decades to differentiate yourself from your Mom. So, it really gets under your skin when what annoys you about your Mom gets discovered in you.

But, being just like my Mom is actually a good -- nay a great -- thing.

There are so many amazing, wonderful things about my Mom and never are those so vivid or so inspiring than when she is with her grandchildren.

The woman has this, this something, with kids. They light up in her presence. They show off, they giggle, they play.

She has a way of relating to little ones and letting their world envelop her. She reads books and plays and counts and sings ABCs, for hours and hours.

My Mom is, and always has been, so present.

And just so dang much fun.

Take this weekend, for example. While I run around the house, trying to straighten and clean, cook and shine, she sits, delighted with Willa, dreaming up fun things for all of us to do. Let's go to Village Drug! Let's get the stroller out! Can't you just wait until summer when we can take her to the pool! Oh! Won't that be so much fun!

She lives to have fun, like a kid.

How does she do it? Perspective.

She's always quick to tell me, when I'm fretting about work or the farm or the house or the massive amount of dog hair accumulating around me, that this stage only happens once and if you're not careful, you'll take it for granted.

"If I could, I would do it all over again," she said this weekend. "Just so I could do it again. God, I loved it when you kids were little."

So, on Sunday, even though I had dinner to cook and seedlings to plant, grain to weigh, columns to write and logos to design, I spent about two hours playing with Willa as my Mom dressed her in everything pink and/or fancy she could find in her closet. Why? Just because it's fun to play dress up.

(Someone should tell her though, that this is a baby, not a doll, despite the evidence in this photo.)

My apologies. I can't stop posting these. I mean, c'mon. Could you?


Rumba butts drive me nuts.

Willa absolutely cannot believe how excited Nana is about this dress.

But this excitement starts to turn to frustration pretty quickly.

Willa denounces the silliness by trying to eat the dress.

The situation then quickly devolves to this.

And then finally, this.


  1. I have looked at this post, seriously, like 20 times. Willa Bean is so delightful and squishy in that knit outfit. I want to eat her up!

    And about your mom, I know that we have talked about this before, but I am a big fan of her work. She is a good Nana and successfully raised two of my all time favorite people. Yay for J!

  2. Willa looks so much like you, I want to eat fake, instant soup with her and discuss the Legislature.

  3. Oh, man, I miss Ramen noodles and the joint subcommittee on eduction. Or, at least one of those.

  4. Willa is absolutely nummy in that pink outfit! And I agree your Mom ROCKS! My kids totally love her.



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