Sunday, August 24, 2008

on becoming my mother

Let me start by saying I don't consider it a bad thing to adopt many of the traits, quirks and characteristics of my parents. I do, however, consider it a measure of my graduation to adulthood. My parents have always been adults to me, so the more I start to resemble their idiosyncracies the closer I assume I am to being an full-fledged adult. It's the last part I'm not sure I'm ready for. Becoming my mother has always been inevitable. The traits I've picked up have been a bit ironic: mostly, they're all things at one time or another I teased my mom about.

It all started with the spontaneous purchase of a plant. My mom had plants inside and out when we were growing up. And, in fact, still does. One in particular has reached legendary status. It is commonly (not affectionately) referred to as "The Fern-inator." This fern has grown so large my youngest sister had nightmares about it growing down the hall and attacking her in her sleep; so large that the only way my mom could split it and give pieces to friends and families to spawn their own fern-inators was to take a chain saw to the root ball; so large there are no longer containers big enough for re-potting. Legendary. Her other plants pale in comparison, but they were every bit as important as the Fern-inator. Just not as obtrusive.

So, I always assumed and half-joked, that I would not turn into a plant woman. Never. Then, one day, walking through a home improvement store, I spotted a plant that looked like it could use a little TLC and then would be a perfect fit for the corner of the dining room. And, it all started there. I've still managed to restrain myself so that I only purchase plants that I know I have a particular spot for in our home. Currently, I only have three major plants in the house that I'm attempting to keep alive (and several outdoor varieties). My office, however, is now home to five plants of varying sizes and shapes.

The second step was when I purchased a bright pink suit. I always loved that my mom had fantastic suits. She always looked professional but always stood out. She tried many a time to get me to embrace being tall: "you can pull this off!" For the most part, I have several conservative suits in my closet. And, one bright pink one. Guess which one I get the most compliments on when I wear it? That's right. Bright pink. Generally speaking, it's only been a recent development for me to embrace pink. As the first granddaughter and daughter I was inundated with girly pink frills from the beginning. I went through an anti-pink stage, and now it would appear I've come out on the other side. Moderation again being key.

This past weekend was a third step. When my youngest sister and I voluntarily cleaned the attic we came upon a literal mountain of baskets: all shapes and sizes piled haphazardly one inside another. This, we diagnosed, was a severe problem. It was reasoned that mom never used all these baskets and probably didn't even know half of them existed. True, they were beautiful, but they were clutter at this point. We tried our best to persuade mom to downsize but to no avail.

Well, I've collected a few in the past several years. I have uses for most of them. This past weekend, however, I combined plants and baskets. Which, I suppose is about the final straw. Not only am I adopting my mom's peculiarities, I'm combining them. I actually purchased a plant and then decided a basket would be a much more beautiful planter. I realize this is not a unique idea, but it carried a particular punch when I realized the personal significance of the combination - and of my own natural inclination to combine the two.

When I start writing on the back of napkins and envelopes I'll know I've started to morph into my father.

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