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Am I Becoming My Mother?

Photograph by Carmen C. Rivera

I woke up recently in the middle of the night, sitting straight up on the sofa, one leg folded under me, with my arms crossed and the TV blaring.

When I was a teenager, I frequently discovered my mother in the same position after falling asleep while watching TV. I also have found myself apologizing for everything lately — even when it's not my fault — yet another echo of my mother's actions and attitudes. I'm walking with a lighter stride, and I'm speaking in softer tones.

Oh, my gosh, I'm becoming my mother!

My mom (whom I refer to as "mother") is beautiful. She's only 20 years older than I am, and she looks amazing. Why wouldn't I want to be more like her? She's fit and active. She's got a great social life and a hot boyfriend.

Lucky for me, my family tells me I look just like her when she was my age. I'm hoping that means I'll look half as good as she does when I'm her age. So, what's wrong with looking and becoming more like my mother?

When I was growing up, my mother and I were never really close. My friends would hang out with their moms a lot, and they would always ask why my mom and I didn't hang out much. I'd usually quip that she and I were so completely different that if I weren't her daughter she wouldn't be interested in knowing someone like me.

And it was true. We were complete opposites. It didn't lead to animosity or estrangement; we were just very different people with very different interests. No harm, no foul.

That really hasn't changed. My mami is one of the kindest and most generous people I know. She's patient and giving. She never hesitated to tell me that I was too hot-tempered for her tastes — and definitely too loud. My mother was firm but not too strict, and other than a very rare "got dammit" (sans God—she's a devout Catholic), my mother seldom cursed.

I feel like I'm starting to adopt some of my mother's mannerisms and (hopefully) her charm and patience. Friends tell me that my sharp edges and rough exterior are starting to soften. My quick temper seems a little slower to burst forth. And I'm starting to appreciate the changes.

Mother was born in a small town Louisiana, and she was raised with southern charm, southern kindness, and some serious southern twang. She still has a touch of that delightful twang. I think it's what makes her so lovable. She's definitely smart and extremely light-hearted, but mostly she's very respectable and demands respect. Even with all her charm and kindness, if she ever gets fed up with something, she has no problem expressing her dislike of the matter no matter what it means to anyone else. I admire all those things about her.

I, however, was raised in the heart of Chicago. We lived in a neighborhood that ended up being really rough by the time we were teenagers, and the kids all faced very different challenges growing up. My mother says those challenges made me too loud and too quick-tempered for her taste.

My response was always: How was I supposed to prevent it? My heritage is mixed Southern Creole and Puerto Rican, and I am full of passion.

Lately though, I feel like I'm starting to adopt some of my mother's mannerisms and (hopefully) her charm and patience. Friends tell me that my sharp edges and rough exterior are starting to soften. My quick temper seems a little slower to burst forth.

And I'm starting to appreciate the changes. Whether I can attain my mother's level of charm and grace remains to be seen. But for now, I can see myself becoming my mother and that's a change I'm very happy with.

Explore More: mamá a mamá, familia, Latina Mom
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