When I entered young womanhood, I liked to think of myself as completely different from my mom. Only now that I'm a mom do I realize that's kind of a mean thought. More and more, I see that some things are inextricably passed on from mother to daughter. Our toddler picks up on our mannerisms—it makes sense I would have inherited some of my mom's quirks. When I have one those "I'm becoming my mother" moments, I want to both laugh and cry, but it also makes me want to pick up the phone and tell my mom I love her. Here are a few examples of how I've turned into my mamá.
1. I have a bunch of plastic spice bags in my pantry. You know which ones I'm talking about.
They're terribly hard to organize too. I have at least three bags of cumin alone at any given time, but when I go to the grocery store I still think, "do I have cumin?" I also keep canela, hoja de laurel, oregano, dried chilies I hardly use, and lots more. I like jars of spices, but something about standing in front of the wall of bags in the stores just feels natural. I used to stand next to my mom in that exact spot and now that's my daughter's place.
2. Full tummy equals happy mami.
When my toddler says, "wanna eat," I spring into action. Let me head into the kitchen and make everything we have. Here, have some protein, a veggie, a tortilla, some fruit, some milk. When she's full, it's my heart that's happiest. Like the saying goes: "barriga llena, corazón contento."
3. I've exclaimed the phrase, "¡Solo haciendo travesuras!" and meant it.
I remember being a kid and my mom scolding my siblings and me for our antics, and shooing us out of the house to play outside—most likely to get a moment of peace. I find myself feeling just as exasperated when my daughter is up to no good. I just need a moment to send this email or finish the dishes. ¡Basta!
4. My kid needs a sweater.
If there's even the faintest breeze outside, I have to pack my daughter a sweater. Nothing makes my mom Spidey-senses tingle like when I see a baby out without enough clothes in chilly weather.
5. I get anxiety when I see my toddler running around barefoot on the cold floors.
Photograph by Jay Miranda
When I was a kid, I knew better than to run around descalzada because according to Latino parent mythology, that's how all illnesses begin. My home today has all hardwood floors, and my baby was prone to popping her socks off. Most of the time, I put them back on. Just in case.
6. My kid is the center of my universe.
I know it's trendy to act like our kids are just a part of our life, but not our whole life. I know this is true because a mom is her own person, but it doesn't feel true. I balance different obligations, but my daughter is the sun around which they all revolve. I didn't always understand the sacrifices my mom made for me when I was a kid, but I understand them now. Love is the ultimate driving force.