It’s hard to count the ways I am just like my mom. All the parts of her that I would whine about as a kid — the dorky singing and dancing, the shouting of insignificant questions across the house, the overuse of aphorisms like “many hands make light work” and “tired soldiers are pessimists” — are now so baked into my own behavior that I have to laugh. I also feel so much gratitude for the kind of mom she was and these little parts of her I’ve coopted, which I suppose isn’t so surprising: She did cover our house with decorative reminders to be grateful. They were exclusively in cursive — one affinity I did not pick up, for the record.
It’s such a thing to be “just like your mother.” Often it’s something people lament, but I can’t help but be tickled by the little oddities we resent as kids and then pick up as adults, in spite of ourselves. They offer new perspectives on our moms and our selves, maybe even our childhoods. So I asked the team to tell me some of theirs. They were even more adorable than I expected. Read on to confirm and then tell us, if you have the privilege of knowing, how you are just like your mother, too.
Leandra: “My mom used to pull at the hair at the nape of her neck when she was concentrating/reading magazines and it always annoyed me so much, but I do it all the time now. She also re-uses a lot of shit, like plastic containers from grocery stores (that nuts come in, for example) for alternative purposes. Or flower vases as fruit bowls. I do that too now.”
Jasmin: “My mum uses paper towels for everything. Before using any pan or utensil, she wipes it with a paper towel. Before putting anything into a jar/container, she lines it with a paper towel. Anything dry and edible is wrapped in paper towels in the fridge. She brought me a few boxes of candy in November and the container for the boxed candy was lined with, you guessed it, paper towels! We used to joke that a crumpled-up paper towel was a sign that Mum had been there. I find it so weird, but now I do the exact same thing! I also feel so disorientated when I run out of paper towels.”
Louisiana: “My mom always folds plastic bags into little samosas which she then keeps in a plastic bag (usually hung on the inside of a cabinet), which is what I now do with my plastic bags at home. Space-saving AND cute! Also she lines the bottom of rubbish bins with paper hand towels to keep it clean in case the bag breaks or leaks, which is something I’ve learned to do as well.”
Yvonne: “My mom always collected soaps from hotels and I thought it was a little weird. I now have a collection of matches from restaurants and soaps from hotels in a giant bowl in my apartment. Also, my mom loves tea and is a loose-leaf tea drinker who cringes at tea bags placed directly in water. Oddly, I am now the same way.”
Elizabeth: “You know when you want to vent to someone purely for the sake of it? Like, you don’t really want pity or guidance, just a listening ear? In those cases my mom will be overly comforting and offers tons of advice. It’s very loving, but sometimes I really just want to punch a wall. Today, I find myself doing that exact thing with my boyfriend. He’ll want to vent to me about something and I’ll find myself going on and on with words of advice and comfort while he’s just silent. Oops, I’m my mother.”
Maria: “I always used to think it was weird when my family would go to the grocery store and my mom would have long conversations with the store employees. I remember so many instances of packing up groceries and waiting for my mom to stop talking, feeling as if she was disrupting the etiquette of the check-out line. While I hated it then, seeing my mom do this normalized the action of talking to strangers, especially over racial and class backgrounds, and seeing the humanity in all people no matter their occupation. Now I’m grateful for it, and do the exact same thing.”
Patty: “My mom collects Christmas ornaments from every city she visits and now I, too, will purchase a Christmas ornament from every city I visit. My fake light-up tree from Amazon is like two feet tall, though, so I give most of them to her to use until I’m grown up enough for a real one.”
Ariel: “When I was growing up, my mother was always so beautiful and put together before bed. She would wear a nightgown or pajama set. I never understood why she wouldn’t just throw on an old shirt and sweats and call it a day. Fast forward to now and I truly have become my mother’s daughter. I never go to bed without donning a matched PJ set of my own, preferably striped.”
Amelia: “My mom leaves these little, rolled-up scrolls of paper all over the house — as though a bunch of teeny mice were constantly pouring over maps from the 1500s to plot their next sail. She rips little pieces of paper absentmindedly off of anything and everything to make them. I always thought it was so weird. And then, one day, I realized…I do it, too. All the time. I had no clue I was doing it. Mine don’t look like scrolls, though. Mine are mini paper snails.”
Photo and featured matchbook collection by Edith Young.