Just Like Her

I remember one early summer morning in High School, my mother pulled over next to the Track & Field house to drop me off. I gave my mom a quick peck on the cheek and jumped out of the car. My coach, Mr. Miller was standing there, waiting for all of the stragglers to get in for our 6:30 AM cross country practices.

“Well, you’ll never be able to deny you’re related,” he said. “You look exactly like her!”

WHAT?!?

Oh, NO. No, no, no, no, no.

I remember being disturbed by Coach Miller’s observation as we did our run that morning, only half interested in whatever conversation the team was making. Did I really look like my mother? If I did, what parts of me did? Because there were some parts I’d be okay with and others I wouldn’t be so happy about.

It wasn’t the first time someone told me I looked like my mother. And it wasn’t the first time that it bothered me.

Looking back now, I realize that you would have to be blind to not see the resemblance between my mother and myself. But what I realize now is that it wasn’t so much that people were saying I looked like her.

It was that they were saying I was like my mother at all.

When I was younger, I didn’t always appreciate my mother. In fact, there were times where I held very little respect for her. I don’t say that proudly. My mother could be a very angry person when I was growing up and instead of feeling respect, I remember feeling fear. Instead of feeling like I was unconditionally loved, I remember something that felt closer to emotional blackmail.

At the same time, I felt those things for my mother, there was this flip side to her – this side that I did love dearly and that I did cherish. A side that was full of life and passion and the heartiest laughter. But that laughter could turn on a dime and laughter could become tears. Sometimes my own. My mother wasn’t like a box of chocolates, she was more like a box of firecrackers. I never knew what kind I would get.

I look at my mother’s life and recognize that she did not live an easy one. Perhaps it’s why her hair turned grey earlier in life than my own did. Perhaps it’s why the delicate lines around her eyes showed up earlier than they should have. The emotional trials she went through definitely had a physical impact which aged her prematurely. The very hard challenges she faced are part of the very reason she was the way she was.

I didn’t really understand that as a child. Sometimes I still don’t understand it all as an adult. When I wasn’t living in fear of her temper, I just remember craving some security in knowing if the day would be a happy one or a devastating one.

My mother has changed a lot over the years. She has become more like that box of chocolates, but it’s a bit more predictable and it’s like they’re all the same kind. I mostly know what I’m going to get. She and I are much closer than we were when I was young and I can almost forget a lot of my childhood, or at least process it better, knowing what I know about her now. We have spoken about the past and I am willing to allow it to stay in the past and love my mother for the person that she has become.

Does it mean I have forgotten everything?

No.

Does it mean I have forgiven?

Yes.

When I look in the mirror and see my own reflection, it’s impossible to deny that I am my mother’s daughter. From the thick curly hair that we have both struggled to tame our whole lives to the large brown eyes, to the small, almost non-existent chin. I look back at old pictures of her and am startled at the resemblance, almost the same way I am when I look at my own daughter’s pictures and see my own face.

I no longer flinch when someone tells me how much I look like my mother. I embrace it, just as I embrace her beauty and just as I embrace the imperfections which used to make me want to turn my back on the comparison. I love my mother now in a way that I didn’t know how to before.

I look at my own imperfections as a mother and wonder what Shaila will say when people inevitably tell her she looks like me. I know her response will be a reflection of her relationship with me at that time in many ways. I hope that she is proud.

Just the way I am now when anyone compares me to my own mother.

me and ma

XO,

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14 Comments on Just Like Her

  1. Alison
    Twitter:
    March 24, 2014 at 10:54 pm (10 months ago)

    It feels good, doesn’t it, to reconcile a truth?
    Your mother sounds amazing – just like you. xo
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  2. MomWithaDot
    March 25, 2014 at 12:11 am (10 months ago)

    Your mom looks gorgeous and so do you! I’m sure Shaila would be proud to be told she looks like her mom. I’d give anything to look like my Mom; But then again, I have her personality in which I’ve inherited so much that could never be acquired in one life – Not bragging – just grateful.
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  3. CC Riley
    Twitter:
    March 25, 2014 at 5:37 am (10 months ago)

    Isn’t it funny how we always end up like our mothers? I love my mother, too, but I can remember all of those moments in growing up where I wasn’t very excited about that fact. Now, I’m totally okay with it.
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  4. Jennifer
    March 25, 2014 at 12:42 pm (10 months ago)

    I know this feeling, but with my grandmother. My entire life I’ve been told I look like her, but I’ve never seen it until recently. Unfortunately I do not find it comforting, other than the fact that she is an attractive woman, as you’ve been able to do. I may look like her, but I hope than I never behave like her. I’m glad you’ve been able to grow closer to your mom as you’ve gotten older. That’s a good thing. And you are both beautiful women.
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  5. Sheryl
    Twitter:
    March 25, 2014 at 1:01 pm (10 months ago)

    I love that your posts are always so honest. You are two beautiful women and your ability to embrace your resemblance to your mom is wonderful. I always flinched when people said I looked like my mom, but to my extreme surprise, my daughter, at age 18, loves it when people tell her she looks like me! And, with her Indian looks, I don’t see it. I’d like to think my daughter sees our connection on a deeper level than our features, just as you have seen with your mom.

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  6. Kim
    March 25, 2014 at 1:38 pm (10 months ago)

    This is beautiful, Kiran. Relationships can change so much over the years as we grow and change and find more understanding, can’t they? I am so glad that you have found that is the case with your relationship with your mother. :)
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  7. Lady Jennie
    March 25, 2014 at 4:35 pm (10 months ago)

    Your mother is so beautiful, as are you. But from those pictures, I don’t think she looks anything like you! :-)

    Which I know is totally not the point. Mother-daughter relationships are hard. I have a lot of leftover tension with my own mom, though we are close. And I can see tension forming with my own daughter, which I have to work hard to not be the cause of. It’s hard, but such an irreplaceable bond.
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  8. Kristin Shaw
    March 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm (10 months ago)

    When I was a kid, it was my little sister who looked like my mom and her whole side of the family. I was jealous of all the attention she got for looking like the Italian side. But as it turns out, my personality is just like my mom’s – chatty, total extrovert, and a bit of a spitfire. I appreciate these traits so much now, but I didn’t as much as a teenager. It’s so amazing to see it circle back around. :)
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  9. Steve
    March 26, 2014 at 9:26 am (10 months ago)

    I somewhat resemble my parents but my son…a different story.

    I found an old pic of me around his current age and showed it to him.

    “Oh god!”

    “We look the same!”, he said.

    From the opening statement, I don’t know if he found it as amusing as I did!
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  10. Robbie
    March 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm (10 months ago)

    This is beautifully honest. I’m glad you were able to move on and grow closer to your mom despite your differences and challenges growing up. I would give anything to be able to have a conversation with my mom today. I miss her so much.
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  11. Andrea
    Twitter:
    March 28, 2014 at 8:10 am (10 months ago)

    I love this so much, Kiran. I’m happy that you can feel proud that you resemble your mother now – relationships change so much over the years and it’s nice when we can look back and be thankful for where they are now. You are a beautiful, strong woman, just as you see your mother.
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  12. David Ryan
    April 23, 2014 at 8:30 am (9 months ago)

    And you are both lovely ladies.
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