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Readers share their stories about the looks, the sayings and the habits.
Courtesy of Carolyn Duncan
Millie and Carolyn Duncan
Saturday, May 11, 2013
After reading more than 80 submissions from readers who finished the sentence, “I knew I became my mother when … ,” one thing was clear.
Mothers are powerful people.
Not only do their children find themselves speaking the same phrases, they also pick up the same habits, use the same voices and — gasp! — transform, literally, into mom.
“I am a 71-year-old great grandmother,” writes Brenda Berry of Lexington. “I knew I became my mother when I looked into a mirror and saw her arms, bat wings and wrinkles.”
Carolyn Duncan of Roanoke even sent in a photo. “I knew I became my mother when I looked in the mirror and saw her looking back at me. I told this to my mother and she asked, ‘What’s wrong with that?’ ”
At least a half dozen other readers agreed with Berry and Duncan, including Donna Nicely of Clifton Forge.
“It happened gradually. I caught glimpses of myself saying things like ‘immediately, if not sooner’; ‘Shut the door; were you born in a barn?’ ” Nicely wrote.
“Then, one day, a few years back, I was brushing my teeth, I looked in the mirror … and MY MOTHER was looking back! What the heck had happened? Now, that she is gone, I actually look for her … in the things I do and say; and I enjoy those moments!”
Mom-isms we love
By far, the most popular mom phrases were iterations of “because I said so.”
Marilyn Fry of Rocky Mount heard her daughter say it to her son. Laura Simmons of Vinton said she knew she became her mother when “I told my daughter she was not wearing that out of my house.
“I never thought I would hear myself say that!”
There were the veiled threats.
“When I was young, my mother would say to me, ‘If you won’t listen, you’ll have to learn the hard way,’ ” wrote Ann Fink of Roanoke. “I found myself speaking those same words to my own children. Now we chuckle as we remember that old adage is so true!”
And of course, “Stop crying before I give you something to cry about,” wrote Teasha Hoston of Christiansburg.
Some warnings came without words.
Darlene Overstreet of Salem said she knew she became her mom when she started giving her kids “the look.”
“The ‘look’ spoke volumes when she used it. She would explain to us before she took us visiting relatives and friends that if we misbehaved and she had to give us the dreaded look that we would be punished when we got home.”
Some other phrases stuck with the children, even though they were dreaded.
“When I was a child, my mother woke me up every morning for school by cheerily saying ‘Time to hop up now!’ Never a morning person, I hated those words! I heard them every school day for 12 years,” wrote Sue Roland Reese of Roanoke. “ Wouldn’t you know it, the very first morning I woke my children up for school, I cheerily proclaimed ‘Time to hop up now!’ I literally clasped my hand over my mouth as those dreaded words came out against my will — and continued to come out EVERY single morning when I woke my children up for school. I knew I had become my mother! I know that my daughter, who is now married and expecting a child of her own, is also doomed to utter the cheerful morning wake-up call. She Facebooked me the other day that she was having trouble getting up in the mornings and needed to hear me say ‘Time to hop up now!’ There is a morning in her future when she finds herself standing with her hand clasped over her mouth right after those five fateful words have unexpectedly popped out!”
Kim Simms of Salem picked up a saying for the other end of the day.
“My daughter was 6 years old and she like me had trouble going to sleep at night. … I had just gotten a chance to sit down after doing the nightly chores when she got up to tell me she could not sleep. I turned to her and said, ‘Just go lay down, close your eyes and be quiet and you will fall asleep.’ As soon as those words came out I knew immediately I had become my mother. She had said these very words to me many times. I immediately called and asked her if she was laughing.”
Vicke Marshall of Roanoke picked up a funny saying from her mom, who is still an active 81-year-old.
“It was just the other day at work, I was sitting at my desk and a coworker came in to see me about something. I was so engrossed in my task I looked up at her and said, ‘What? Hold on let me put my glasses on so I can hear you.’ Of course she looked at me and wondered if she heard me right.”
Marshall explained that during her teenage years, if her mother was napping on the couch and heard the kids explaining where they were going as they headed out the door, she’d sit up and say, “Wait a minute, hand me my glasses, I can’t hear you.”
From her British mother, Vicki Wray of Roanoke picked up a few quirky sayings.
“I thought I had become my mother when I yelled at my children, ‘Quit that sky-larking!’ which means your silly behavior has gotten out of hand. Or perhaps I snapped, ‘Give over!’ — another way of saying quit fighting,” Wray wrote. “But I knew it for a fact when I started, in my older years, to call everyone ‘Love.’ … But in my defense I have added ‘Sweetheart’ to ‘Love’ in deference to my Southern heritage.”
Mom’s forgetful behaviors (we moms blame that on Momnesia, a side effect of having children to watch after) also made a lasting impact.
“I knew I became my mother when I started blanking on the names of everyday items and then getting annoyed when no one knew what I was talking about. ‘Can you hand me that … thingamajig? The… whatchamacallit. The DOO-DAD!!!’” wrote Rory Nagy of Roanoke.
Of course, there’s the mixing up of children’s names.
“I couldn’t remember my child’s name — and called her by her sister’s name, the dog’s name, and finally by saying that child right there as I point at her. My mother used to do this to me as a child. I always wondered how she would or could forget my name. Now I know!” wrote Nicholette Austin-Vassallo of Vinton.
Clara Eanes of Roanoke shared a similar story. “Sometimes my mother would go thru all five of her children’s names before she finally got to the correct name. When I would protest I am Clara not Lynda or Gary she would say ‘Well that is who I meant.’”
Funny, did I do that?
Then there are those habits of mom’s that you never knew you noticed, until you started doing it yourself.
“I knew I became my mother when the loaf of bread would get low and I would twist tie it and cut off the plastic above the twist tie so it wouldn’t hang down,” wrote Lisa Kuhn of Roanoke.
Priscilla Casey of Roanoke said she knew she was her mom when she “started ‘ironing’ gift wrap paper to re-use.”
Mary Holmes Tolley, who wrote in from Pittsfield, Mass., also had a gift wrap story.
“I knew I became my mother when I used her ‘all occasion gift wrap’ (aluminum foil) to wrap a wedding gift for my sister.”
Jo-Ann Lonker of Vinton learned a useful trick from her mother: tucking tissues beneath the cuffs of her blouse. “This is, indeed, very handy when one’s pants lack pockets!”
Sherri Shupe of Salem never knew she picked up one of her mother’s habits until it came out one day while she was driving with her daughter.
“I knew I became my mother when I automatically put my arm across [my daughter’s] body on the passenger seat side when quickly stopping despite her use of a seatbelt. Her face, the first time I did it, seemed to say, ‘What in the world are you doing?’ It was reflexive, just as my mother had done to me in my childhood. … Some things we can’t learn, they are inherited!”
Laura Beltran of Blue Ridge found herself reading historical markers on the sides of roads.
“I remember a road trip when I was 12, and my mom would insist on reading the historical signs and markers. Each time she’d pull the car over to read, I’d groan. I thought she was crazy. Now my daughter is 12, and guess what? Every trip we take, I’m pulling over to read the historical markers!”
Natasha Jones of Roanoke saw her mother in many little things, including when
Honoring Mom’s big heart
Finally, there are the life lessons she preached or taught by example.
Many readers thanked their mothers for teaching them the importance of prayer and patience.
Teena Trent of Roanoke said she knew she became her mother when she lived long enough to understand her saying, “When children are small they tread on your toes; when they are grown they tread on your heart.”
Linda Nelson of Roanoke picked up her mother’s generosity for others.
“My mother, Mary, grew up during the Depression, when family love abounded but material possessions were scarce,” Nelson wrote. “She grew into a lady who constantly gifted family, friends and acquaintances with objects dear to her — food, clothing, wonderful things she, herself, had done without much of her early life. I knew I had become like my mother when I found myself, too, constantly on the lookout for what I could find for the next birthday, anniversary or special occasion for family and friends.”
Finding the perfect way to show your love was also important to Roanoker Alicia Willis’ mom.
“I knew I became my mother when the holidays would arrive and I would stay up all night the week before Christmas making sure every little detail was perfect to ensure that everyone would know just how special they were to me down to the personalized gifts, the familiar delicious meals being prepared, the 3 a.m. trips to Walmart to get just the perfect last-minute gift card! I also knew I became my mother when I realized that everyone else’s joy and happiness come before mine, as I know that is what makes my mother the happiest ... is to see others happy.”
Frank Gough of Narrows wrote that his mother never seemed to know — or mind — a stranger.
“She looked at and saw things a bit different than most people. A homeless person, hitchhiker or someone down on their luck was much more than just that. They were someone who needed a ride to their destination, warm clothing or maybe a few dollars for a cup of hot coffee and a good meal. And that’s just what they got,” Gough wrote. “Being the owner-operator of our family Italian resturant in the 1950s, if someone was hungry and couldn’t pay for a meal, no problem. They were seated in the main dining room along with the other customers and were treated with a giant platter of good, hot sauce and pasta. A stray, malnourished animal was no different. If a dog or cat was hungry, it was fed (hot sauce and pasta). No place to go for the holidays? No problem! Our home was open to one and all. … When I finish helping someone or something I feel my mother’s presence, see her gracious smile and hear her say “Good job Frank, that’s what we are supposed to do.’”
Finally, Margaret East of Roanoke shared some of her mom’s “sage sayings”:
1. PRIDE: “Well you know every crow thinks theirs is the blackest.”
2. COOPERATION: “You can catch more flies with sugar than you can with salt.”
3. HOPE: “Every cloud has a silver lining.”
4. PROGRESS: “Time will tell.”
5. NEW BEGINNINGS: “Out with the old, in with the new.”
6. DISSATISFACTION: “The grass is always greener on the other side.”
7. INSIGHT: “Beauty is as beauty does.”
8. OPTIMISM: “His bark is worse than his bite.”
9. PREDICTION: “Your time will come.”
10. TRAVEL: “You can see as far as you can see.”
“I find I have become a keeper of the flames of my mother’s words of wisdom,” East wrote. “Although deceased, she forever lives in my heart and words.”
Words that would melt any mother’s heart. Happy Mother’s Day to all!
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