How Are You Just Like Your Mom?
The Things That Your Mom Does That You Thought Were Weird (and Now You Do) May 2017 Man Repeller-5724


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.”

The Things That Your Mom Does That You Thought Were Weird (and Now You Do) May 2017 Man Repeller-5720

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. 

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  • Jill

    My mom likes cool stuff (bikes, old houses, protesting shyly, working in the garden, second hand stores, hiking early in the morning) and likes dumb jokes and coming up with theories about the way the world works.

    I like all the stuff she likes, and find myself lecturing people about composting and the calming powers of walking in nature more often than I’d like, but just as much as any daughter of JR (my mom) should.

  • shu

    i was talking to my mom the other day and we were talking about how she doesn’t understand how people can fall in love and i was like, same though. i see a guy, get to know them for a week and find out the most terrible aspect so that i would stop liking them. apparently, my mom did the same thing (except her time frame was 3 days #whatasavage) back in college.
    another thing, my mom only cooks and bakes elaborate things for people, and never for her (even if she’s hungry), and that’s what i do now, oddly enough. i literally cook when i’m hungry and i don’t feel hungry anymore and give my lunch and cakes to boys (that’s how you get them wink wonk)

    • Abby

      I’m sure you meant “wink wink” but something about the phrase “wink wonk” has me cackling at my desk. I can’t stop whispering it to myself.

      • Hayley

        Giggling at my desk like a fool, too.

      • shu

        no i meant wink wonk! i say it all the time tbh and it just gets people laughing #whatatime

  • Aydan

    Maria–my mom is exactly the same way! It took me so long to appreciate it too and to realize how unique and beautiful it is that she shares her loving and nurturing spirit with EVERYONE! her energy and willingness to care is just beyond and I’ve never encountered another person quite like her!

  • Abby

    This is a difficult question for me, only because it forces me to think about the fact that while I am just like my mom in many good ways, I am also exactly like her in every single bad way, big or small. Type A to the point of exhaustion, an unbending perfectionist, too blunt, too snippy, too angry. I love her to death but I wish I could be a little more like my laid back dad.

  • Clara Nobre

    When I was growing up, everything that went into the fridge had to be inside a tupperware. Half a tomato left? Put it in a tupperware. 3 Slices of cheese left? remove them from their package and put it in a tupperware (wrapped in tinfoil please). Guess who is a tuppaware freak now? I have yet to embrace the tinfoil craze, though. Maybe in the next 5-10 years.

  • Saumya Pandit

    And the funniest thing for me atleast is that I’ve picked up majority of the habits I swore I wouldn’t develop.

  • Aimee

    I had no idea that saying something “stinks to high heavens” was not a normal phrase that everyone said until I got to college and my new roommates looked at me like I had five heads. My mom has a lot of expressions like that (as did my Nana apparently) and now I guess so do I.

    Also, she forever is leaving love notes everywhere (in our lunch boxes when we were kids, under your pillow if she comes over to your apartment, on top of the tupperware if she sends home leftovers, etc). Well, sure enough, my boyfriend asked to borrow my suitcase to go on a trip and I found myself tucking love notes in different compartments.

    • tmm16

      Where are you from? Because my grandma and mom also say this phrase!

      • Aimee

        Boston! That would be funny if it was a Boston/New England thing.

        • jellymo

          I’m from Boston and I know it too– so I think it is 🙂

    • Lebanese Blonde

      I say this too and I’m from CA!

    • Saskia

      I know this as a German saying, could that be a possibility?

      • Bea.

        I’m from Germany and I can assure you that it is a german saying 🙂

    • TherapyCranes

      Midwest here, and my German grandmother says that.

    • Lindsey

      That’s not a regular phrase? My mom said that allll the time. (I’m from WI originally…there are a lot of Germans there.)

  • Bernadette

    for one, I take after her in looks-and her sisters! there are a few strong family traits. But actually I see/hear myself solving people’s problems, even if they haven’t asked for help. Like when I suggest to my bf what he should give his mom for mother’s day, 3 weeks in advance. And a need to get stuff done before starting the workday-healthy breakfast, clean kitchen, move the laundry, etc. she is more productive before 8am than some people all day.

  • tmm16

    I can’t leave the house without making sure my straightener/curler is unplugged, and at night, I always check to make sure my front door is locked.

    So, basically I inherited her OCD/paranoia, because she always did this when I was growing up. But I guess these are good traits to have, right?

    • Rheanonn Perez

      omg i get that from my dad!

    • i do this all the time (thanks mom) with making sure oven is turned off and candles are blown out. i have woken up at like 1 am and gotten out of bed to check

    • Erica

      yes same!! my mom doesn’t even like to leave the dishwasher or washing machine running when she leaves the house, and now i’m starting to become the same paranoid way….

  • Rheanonn Perez

    omg my mom used to talk to herself in the car when i was a kid (not full-blown conversations but a phrase here & there – i can’t say for sure but looking back it sounded like maybe she was imaging a scenario or conversation with someone & her hypothetical responses were so GOOD & FUNNY she had to say it out loud with a giggle lol idk) & i’d be like “mom who are you talking to???” & she would admit “no one, just talking to myself!”

    now i catch myself doing the same thing 😩

  • Elizabeth

    I have found that I actually dress more like Mom as I’ve gotten older. For example, I am wearing a black crew neck sweater with white jeans and needlepoint flats today, and I guarantee my Mom is wearing something similar across the country. I, like Ariel, also wear PJ sets and nightgowns to bed exclusively, like my Mom always has.

    But more importantly, we share a love for painting and drawing, knick knacks (collecting random things like Russian nesting dolls, Palmetto roses from Charleston, worry dolls, postcards, etc.), corgis, long car rides and sense of humor.

    I’m so grateful that I have become more like my Mom as I’ve gotten older, even though my thirteen year old self is probably shaking her head at me as I write that.

  • lol as grow i become more like my mom!

  • KK

    My husband was eating something on the couch and just as the words “don’t make crumbs!!” fell out of my mouth, I knew I had officially become her. I find myself saying her little quips of advice/reprimands more and more!

    • Senka

      I am not married, but every time I was in a long term relationship and shared a space with my boyfriend for longer periods I’d turn into my mom. The moment I’d start the “Can you please put these away or do I have to trap over your clothes?” diatribe is learned. Granted, they were all messy guys. I sometimes do it when I visit them and see dad throwing things around as he did for last 36 years of their marriage, to which he says I’m Napoleon Junior (he calls mom Napoleon behind her back for being short and bossy).

  • Cristina

    One day, I was strolling past the mirror and freaked out cause I thought I saw my mom but IT WAS ME. So, I’m old. There’s that lol. My grandma did this, then my mom did this and now I do it. When dishes go in the sink, you fill them with water to soak so nothing gets stuck when you wash them. I never paid it any mind until a friend was like “that’s absolutely disgusting” lol!

  • Lil

    Lol about the paper towels because my mom is the opposite. She’s really stingy about paper towels, she thinks they’re the most luxurious necessity. So basically no matter what she’d let her hands air dry after washing them.

    I do the same and fun fact: I die a little inside whenever my roommates use multiple paper towels at once to wipe their wet hands haha.

  • Hayley

    I used to find my mother’s blunt, outspoken behavior to be super embarrassing when I was a teenager, but I definitely inherited her zeal and attitude for which I will always be eternally grateful for.

  • meme

    For some time now I have realized the many habits I’ve picked up from my mum, like washing everything thing with bleach when you cook with eggs to avoid that horrible eggy smell (and my poor husband does it too now). But what has most surprised me is seing how I’m not only a “daddy’s girl” but I have so many personality traits from my dad, like cursing (although he is much more poetic about it) and getting irritated with people who don’t get to the point on the phone.

  • Hahaha, to this day I always get told that I’m a “mini-me”. I think it could be the fire attitude lol

  • Summer

    Cannot begin my day without making my bed– and I think I’ve seen my parent’s bed unmade once in my entire life. Luckily, my mom is an all around A+ human, so the fact that I’m her mini-me (albeit with drier, more morbid humor) is something I embrace

    • Alexia

      Me too! My parents make their bed everyday so I do too. I can’t not make my bed. My friends think it’s weird 😂

  • PCE

    My mom (and now I) ALSO does the plastic bag thing!!! I keep it in my pantry!

    My mom was – IS – a coupon-clipping, sale shopping master. She used to come home from Lord & Taylor and tell us about the amazing things she bought for next to nothing and I’d always roll my eyes. Now I do the same exact thing! Bargain-hunting is my fav pastime (after eating).

    Funnily enough – and this is my favorite thing – she always clipped branches off the lilac bush that grew outside my bedroom window and put them in my room. Today, I stopped at the farmer’s market on Court St in BK and picked up 3 bunches for my office, which I obv photographed and sent to my mom. She then sent me a photo of the branches she’d clipped from our yard and put on our piano – 5 minutes before I bought my bunches!

  • Erica

    i spent a lot of time with mom (single parent) growing that we became best friends to the point where her pet peeves became my pet peeves…

    – when people say “ATM machine” or “PIN number”
    – when people slosh water around in their mouth to get excess food out
    – talking with your mouth full
    – eating off my plate without asking
    – bad grammar

    we’re both v critical in those ways!!

    • prairie dogs

      Omg PIN is an acronym. My mind is blown.

      Except for somehow not realizing that bit about the word PIN for my three decades on earth, I’ve also inherited my mom’s sensitivity to bad grammar and redundant language. (She once wrote our local news station to ask them to stop saying “6 am in the morning.” Hero!)

      • prairie dogs

        Oh also I cannot unsee an incorrectly set table.

  • Alice

    Does it count if I’m like my mom’s mom? Me and my mother are nothing alike and I think that’s why we get along so well. The only thing we both do is collect mugs and almost always arrive late.
    However, I like my grandma always forget to close things properly(jars, doors, etc), revel in arguments(usually against each other), get tired of always eating the same food, love makeup and sleep with the covers up to my head.

  • Missflissy

    THE PAPER TOWELS! My mum has a tin foil addiction and wraps EVERYTHING in the stuff. I remember taking lunch to school as a kid and it felt like everyone else had perfectly wrapped sandwiches in brown paper or baking paper meanwhile mine was a giant, glowing, silver beacon of hell. I have adopted the habit with abandon. It really is great!

  • prairie dogs

    Like my mom, I have a really deep attraction to water. Nothing relaxes me like being near or in it, from ocean to bath and all things in between. Last month we vacationed at a spot with lots of swimming and I realized we share this meditation-level of ease around water. 🙏 I also have lots of her silly habits and traits, but the water thing felt so utero/biological!

  • Senka

    I love my mother very much, and we are very close, but sometimes I think that a peaceful and calm communication between a daughter in her late twenties or thirties and mom twice her age is simply not possible, no matter how much love is there between them. We manage to see each other every weekend, shop together, eat together pretty often, but it brings out lots of potentially comedic neurotic moments in both of us. That may also be due to the fact that we’re Balkan, which means specific temperaments. I am not sure how similar or different we are, but I do catch my self sounding like her more often than I’d like to admit. the older I get, more often I listen to the music she used to like and I remember her listening to. We don’t look much alike physically since she’s blonde with blue eyes and quite slavic features, but I sometimes recognize her in some of my mannerisms and movements.

    • Leah

      haha my Balkan boyfriend has inherited a lot of his father’s neuroses, and it’s so funny to watch them together, they rile each other up so easily until they’re both shouting. Not understanding a word, it took me a while to figure out that they’re not actually fighting or mad at each other, the communication is just so different than my subdued, northern European heritage.

  • I’m still in denial that I am like either of my parents, even though I am, but I won’t actually admit it. My husband likes to point it out all the time and I threaten him with divorce.

  • As a teen, I used to hate that my mom needed to know everything that was going to happen if I asked to hang out with my friends. When am I leaving? Where are we going? Who will be there? Who is driving? Will I need money? Will we be eating there? What else will we be doing? When will I be back?

    I now ask almost all of these questions to my friends before I decide I’m doing anything. But it means I’m prepared, so thanks mom!

    • Squirrely McSquirrelsson

      Haha my mum did and still does the exact same thing. It drove me crazy until I decided to start making a joke out of it. I also also ask way too many questions now.

  • Amy L Campbell

    Thanks mom for gifting me with your weird toe genetics. Forever will my second toe be a generous centimetre lengthier than my first

  • H.


  • H.

    I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty sure the mice were poring over.