“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.”

― Oscar WildeThe Importance of Being Earnest

Uh oh, you just told your child, “Boy, you weren’t born in a barn, close that doggone door.” Last week you were grumpy because there was no macaroni and cheese at the Sunday dinner you were invited to, and everybody knows there ain’t no Sunday dinner unless there’s macaroni and cheese! And then you found yourself taking home leftovers from same-said dinner, wrapped in aluminum foil, muttering how you would “doctor it up when you got it home.” Lord, have mercy, what has happened to you? You have morphed into your mother, that’s what. Now how the heck did THAT happen?

Believe it or not, there actually are real reasons for this phenomenon. Here are four:

Reason #1: Neuroscience. When you reboot a computer, it returns to its default settings. Our brains are like that. We instinctively return to the origins of behavior and interactions we’ve had or witnessed over and over again, especially during our formative years. So what our mommas did and said, over and over again, we’re gonna do, too. Just because we absorbed her actions for so long. Like computers, we return to the original “manufacturer’s” settings.

Reason #2: You became a baby’s momma. You may not recognize your mom in yourself until you have kids of your own.  And even though you and your sisters vehemently whispered among yourselves how you WEREN’T going to treat your kids like mom treated you, studies show that once some women become mothers themselves, suddenly they say and do things like their own moms did. Why? Um, reread Reason #1. (Ignore your sisters when they call you a traitor. Trust me, they probably have signs of mom peeking through in their parenting styles, too.)

Reason #3: Goo-gobs of genetics. If you’re seeing your mom’s wrinkled hands or her high butt when you look in the mirror, you can attribute aaaallll of that to genetics. Sure, you can make edits and tweaks. But those strong genes are, well, your gene pool.

Reason #4: She inspired you. Becoming your mom doesn’t have to be a negative experience. You may actually want to be like her and adopt her habit of helping others in need, or being an inspiration to others like she was to you. If I turn out to be just one-tenth as giving as my mom is, I know I’ve secured a spot inside those gleaming Pearly Gates!

The cool thing, though? We don’t HAVE to become our mothers, especially if your mom wasn’t the best mom of all.  (Just for the record, my mom is AWESOME! So don’t go trying to start any trouble by showing her this post.) We have a magic wand we can wave to change our default—it’s called experience. Maybe your mom cleaned the house from top to bottom every Saturday on her hands and knees with a bucket of white vinegar, hot scalding water, and a can of Pledge. But you know from experience, that’s NOT your thing. (Sorry, Mom!) Do it differently. Hire a cleaning lady, and give her the bucket of white vinegar, hot scalding water, and Pledge.  I mean, no use tossing out all of that learned behavior just for the heck of it! Incorporate the version of your mom into your identity that works best for YOU. And then display it proudly.

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