Me & My Mama

koh-buffet.JPGGrowing up, people often commented (somewhat inappropriately it occurs to me...) that I didn’t look like either of my parents (in the way my six siblings distinctly do). But I’ve always definitely felt like my mother’s daughter, so I couldn’t resist participating in the Parent Bloggers Network’s Mother’s Day Blog Blast in partnership with the Celebrity Hand Me Down charity auction. PBN is asking bloggers what they think their mothers handed down to them, and I decided to make this post a family effort, canvassing Jon and Laurel for their thoughts, and following with my own. I hope this weekend will offer you some time to reflect on and celebrate motherhood.

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Here’s what Jon and Laurel had to say regarding how my mother and I are similar:

1. Jon: “You’re both great cooks and like to take control of the kitchen.” (I’ll take both parts of this statement as a compliment.)

2. Jon: “You’re both short.” (I have no idea what he’s talking about; I have a good 6 inches on my mom.)

3. Laurel: “You both lay the table very neat and know how to neaten up the room.”

4. Jon: “You both like to arrange flowers.” (My mom has taken classes; I have not, but I've daydreamed about working at Winston Flowers.)

5. Laurel: “You both like to hold hands and squeeze me a lot.”

6. Jon: “You’re both frugal and generous at the same time; meaning, you’re not wasteful – you both get ridiculously excited about a good produce sale – yet you both are willing to give generously of time, money, and things - material or otherwise - to people you care about.”

7. Jon: “You both have always been extremely dedicated to your husbands despite periodically questionable behavior.”

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Clearly, I inherited my domestic tendencies from my mom; she even taught me to sew and knit (well before the DIY revolution, when it wasn't exactly cool for teenagers to be doing such things). I still don’t go the distances that she has (she used to iron sheets and my father’s boxers) but there are clear parallels.

However, beyond these domestic matters, I think I inherited my mother’s spirit of resourcefulness. Our growing up was challenging for many reasons, and not only did she seem utterly unflappable through it all - ready to take on any challenge - but she always remained remarkably positive through all of the struggles.

My life has not involved the intense circumstances of my mother’s life: she arrived to the US not speaking a word of English, learned the language quickly and trained to become a nurse, forged businesses with my father, birthed 7 children in an 11-year time frame, and became primary caretaker for two sets of elderly parents. Yet it occurs to me that I have approached my own challenges – e.g., working 60-70 hour weeks over summer and winter breaks to pay my way through college, battling my insecurities (not to mention copious amounts of NIH red tape) to finish my Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellowship, navigating my way through a career 180, figuring out how to exist within the tangled pressures of modern motherhood, and, most recently, preparing to embark on new and uncertain transitions with Jon – always truly believing, like my mother, that if you put up a good fight and are resourceful with what you've got, things will work out somehow.

Yes, sometimes I get annoyed when my mother gives me a hard time about the dishes in my sink, or the state of my skin, or why I have only delivered one grandchild. But these are small potatoes; I’m grateful to my mother for all of the gifts she has given me, and on all of the above, I know that she’s still truly in a league of her own.

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Image: an excessive Koh-hosted buffet.