On relationships with parents as a 20-something.

“Oh God, I sound like my mother.”

A phrase women have said for probably forever, with the smallest hint of terror in their voices. That’s the first feeling, at least, followed by an overwhelming sense of comfort.

For me, at least.

My mother drives me crazy, as mothers often will, but she’s a kind woman who sacrificed a lot of things for me, and she means well with her advice — no matter how frustrating it can be.

In the past year, I’ve said the phrase less. The thing is, I realized I’m really not turning into my mother. Sometimes I wish I was.

A few months ago I woke up at 4 in the morning, loaded the dog in the car and drove a few hours away to go on a hike by myself. I called my mom later in the day to tell her how amazed I was at the sunrise I saw on a country road in the middle of nowhere, about my dog collapsing in protest at the top of the mountain and the detour I took through small towns when I turned off my GPS to see where I would up. I expected her to be horrified. I thought she would scold me for driving around in the middle of the night alone. I assumed she would tell me how dangerous it is to go on a hike by myself. I was waiting for her to tell me it’s odd for a young girl to stop at abandoned motels to take pictures of them.

But she didn’t. She told me I was adventurous and she didn’t think she would ever do anything like that alone.

And in that moment, I realized I’m not turning into my mom. Not at all. And there’s a part of me that’s very sad about that — honestly, when I think about the daydreams I had when I was five, these weren’t them. They were of my mom’s life — of the earliest view of normal I had.

I do love my life very much. The past year has exceeded every expectation I could have set for it. I am baffled by how blessed I’ve been and how much God has taken care of me.

But sometimes I struggle with what my life isn’t.

A month or so ago I was talking through an issue I was having during a phone call with her — to which my mom responded, “Well this is the life you chose.”

I immediately found a reason to hang up.

Because in some ways it is, but so much of my life hasn’t felt like a choice. It’s felt like a need. To prove something to myself, mostly.

In my head at that moment, it sounded to me like she was saying I actively chose not to have certain things — like someone walked up to me on the street, asked whether I’d like to do things the easy way or the hard way and I said, “Hey, yeah, being single sounds good. Companionship is for the birds. Kids? Who needs ’em. Give me that long way around! I can’t wait!”

It’s not ever been a choice. It’s just where my heart has ended up.

It took me awhile to realize, though, that’s not what she meant. She didn’t really mean anything negative — my mom’s just never lived this life. My life is as foreign to my mother as having a two-year-old is to me.

Neither is wrong. Just different.

And maybe one day I will turn into my mother.

 

 

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