‘I knew I’d become my mother when ’

05/09/2014 4:25 PM

05/09/2014 4:25 PM

If you have to assume the looks/personality/habits/sayings of someone else, you could do worse than your mom.

For Mother’s Day we asked readers to share true stories of when they first realized they were turning into their moms. Here we share our favorites out of the dozens of essays we received. Our panel liked them all — and we appreciate everyone who took the time to tell us about their mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day!

| Tim Engle, tengle@kcstar.com

Beauty all around us

Anne Krause, Merriam:

Just in case you’ve missed it, my mother or I would be happy to point out every blooming proof of spring.

Captive in the backseat to my demands that they “Look! Just look at that redbud tree!” or “Did you see those daffodils in that yard?” my children jokingly complained about my constant remarking on the beauty of each season. (Yeah, fall colors were exclaimed upon; frost on the window, the first snow etc.)

I came to the realization that I was doing exactly what my mother had done with me. Every flower, bush, tree and bird was a marvel and a delight to be pointed out for everyone’s enjoyment. I then also recognized that this trait came directly from my grandmother who could not see a cardinal in her yard without excitedly directing attention to it.

It’s a beautiful world — pay attention, don’t miss it!

Stormy weather (maybe)

Ann Hochscheid, Prairie Village:

My mother believed in umbrellas and made sure her belief was passed to her daughter. Throughout the years, friends have gently teased me about my habit of always carrying an umbrella when the weatherman even hinted about a drop of rain.

“Never ruin a good dress if a sudden shower occurs” was my mother’s motto. An antique umbrella stand guarded our front door, a reminder to be prepared for rain. “Just in case,” said Mother.

I inherited the umbrella stand and my mother’s faith in umbrellas. A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a plushy afternoon gathering. The weatherman had promised a perfect day.

Dressed in my springtime best, I opened the front door, glanced upward and noticed a tiny cloud flirting with me. I quickly grabbed an umbrella and tucked it under my arm.

Bling for two

Jamie Reisinger, Kansas City, Kan.:

I knew I’d become my mother when we started dressing in matching outfits. We were going to a charity event, and when she stepped outside she was wearing my exact outfit — black blazer, hot-pink shirt, bedazzled jeans and shoes. The only difference was her blinged-out belt.

My twin sister was sitting in the driver’s seat just laughing. She is always telling me when we are at a store and I pick up something shiny and blingy that I am so my mother’s daughter.


Carol Smith, Prairie Village:

I recently renewed my Kansas driver’s license. When it arrived, my mother’s picture was on it!

Waste not, want not

Susan Wlodek, Leawood:

I knew I had become my mother when I realized I had more spatulas (in a variety of sizes) than I had knives in my kitchen drawer.

My mother, Loretta Makris, raised a family of eight children on a very tight budget. She had been a child during the Depression and never wasted anything. Mom would scrape out the last remnants of food in bottles and jars with a spatula and add this to the new bottle or put it in a soup or stew. The last drops of shampoo, conditioner etc. went into the new bottle.

When I got married I followed her frugal habits. I never gave it a thought until my then teenage daughter asked me why I always have to do this and to please not do it to her shampoo.

Krista is now an architect living in Chicago. When she visited this past Christmas she said, “I can’t believe I am saying this, but now that I am paying for my own stuff I have been adding the old product or condiment into the new one.”

My mom passed away in 2006, but she would be proud that her frugality lives on.

If the shoe fits

Emi Mead, Kansas City:

I knew I’d become my mother when I bought my first pair of (heaven forbid) orthopedic shoes. Mom had a long history of foot problems and had worn orthopedic shoes all of her adult life. As a teenager I was even embarrassed by them and asked her if she could “please wear pretty shoes” for my high school graduation ceremony. (Remember, I was a teenager.)

I spent a lifetime wearing pretty shoes. “You’re going to ruin your feet in those shoes,” Mom frequently admonished me.

“Never!” I’d reply. “I’ll never wear ugly shoes.”

Well, guess what? She passed away before I could admit that she was right. I’m sure she’s now looking down from heaven getting the last laugh at


ugly shoes.

You know, that guy

Emily Willets, Kansas City:

Whenever I struggle to remember the name of an actor or a book, I am confronted by the inevitability of biology. I feel a mental relaxation, as if my brain is trading in jeans for sweatpants. In the long pauses of storytelling when I should be battling to recall an elusive fact, I am actually distracted by the taunting whisper, “You’re becoming your mother.”

Perhaps my mother purposely jettisoned the trivial details to make room for anniversary dates, birthdays and other fond memories of loved ones. I just cannot help but feel like that guy from that book. You know, the one where the guy has brain surgery, but it doesn’t work out and he just keeps regressing. It has plants in the title. “Carnations for Agamemnon.”

What? “Flowers for Algernon”? That’s what I said.

Unlucky number

Ann Sullivan, Kingsville, Mo.:

When my youngest daughter announced her engagement I remember thinking, “Please, oh please, don’t pick the 13th.” Several months later, when my oldest daughter sent me a picture of the positive pregnancy test, I once again thought, “Please, oh please, don’t have the baby on the 13th.”

It was then I knew I’d become my mother. Her paranoia of the 13th was legitimate, and she practiced it religiously, never starting anything on the 13th.

The greatest irony came when she passed away several years ago on Jan. 13. She didn’t start anything, but she did leave me with my own dread of the 13th.

Blooms to share

Marilyn Bruner Howell, Shawnee:

I grew up among the flowers in our nursery, my family’s means of support. The free-will offerings at my dad’s church did not support a family of seven.

My mother rarely left home without a bouquet of flowers, usually snatched hurriedly as she dashed off to church. I silently scoffed, “Like, Mom, really, just go to church. Why do you have to take flowers?”

Now I know. The first daffodil blooming goes to a sick friend, my place of employment or the table when having lunch with friends. The delicate bleeding hearts are a treasure that must be shared. A sunflower along the road must be picked.

The cold, dark days of winter force me to buy flowers to fill my little vases. I feel my mother’s passion to share the joy and beauty of a fresh flower. Thanks, Mom.

Moves like Mom

Melissa Rusch, Overland Park:

I was watering plants and dribbled water on the table, but instead of getting a rag I used the tail of my nightshirt to wipe up the water and dust while I was at it! Classic Mom move!

(My parents married on Mother’s Day, and I was born on Mother’s Day the next year. I am lucky to get to celebrate my May 11 birthday on Mother’s Day with my mom this year!)

She was right

Karen Gugler, Kansas City, Kan.:

I knew I had become my mother when I started agreeing with her that yes, there is a right and a wrong way to load the dishwasher.

Through Mom’s eyes

Wendy Sgarlat, Overland Park:

The first time I gazed in the mirror and my mother looked back at me, I was shocked and a little horrified. Now, eight years after she passed away, I feel comforted when I see my reflection, knowing she will always be with me.

We shared a lot of things: clothes, shoes, skinny legs, thick hair, a love of fashion and especially a love of family. Of all these traits, the one I most treasure is love of family.

Mom had two grandchildren, my two daughters. Though she lived on the East Coast, she established a close relationship with her granddaughters, becoming a pen pal, sounding board during those difficult teen years, soulmate and life coach. When I see my grandchildren, some near and some far, I see through my mother’s eyes, heart and soul — not a bad way to resemble my mother.

A mother’s hands

Susan Pittman, Olathe:

I knew I’d become my mother when I was holding my 16-month-old granddaughter’s hand and found myself watching my own hand. My mother used to hold my hand (and later my son’s hand) and, with her thumb, rub the back of my hand.

Even in her nursing home when she held one of our hands, she would rub the back of it with her thumb. She did this until the day she died, which has been three years now.

I used to laugh and think it was an old lady thing. Now I am glad I find myself holding and rubbing my granddaughter’s hand, because it makes me think of my mother. I miss her. She was a wonderful lady and role model.

Got it?

Erin Van Casey, Raytown:

I knew I was turning into my mom when I had to explain something to someone for the third time. I printed out the directions, highlighted key points and read it to them to make sure they understood.

I’ve also learned that I think exactly the same way she does. Of course that was obnoxious when I was younger, but now I often quote some of my mom’s favorite sayings!

You call that music?

Carol Orndorff, Blue Springs:

I knew I’d become my mother when I walked into my teenage son’s room while he was listening to a then popular rock album and said, “I can’t understand a word they’re singing!” The same thing my mother said when she heard me listening to Elvis the first time!

Love, unfiltered

Terri Murphy, Kansas City:

I adore my cranky, funny and filterless 83-year-old mother. I can only vaguely remember a time when I didn’t many years ago.

I have


of my mother’s flaws: her jowls, fat (behind), “front butt” and the aforementioned crankiness. We “get” each other. I love that she always tells me the truth: “Those pants do nothing for you.” “Your hair color is awful this time.” “You’re getting fat.”

When I was growing up, she constantly reminded me, “You’re prettier when you smile.” I’d return the favor with a scowl. Of course I now know it’s the God’s honest truth. So I’ve told my 25-year-old son his entire life, “You’re prettier when you smile.”

The Pollyannas of the world may guffaw when I also tell my son I think he’s being (stupid) or that his facial hair is nasty. But I guarantee you my son knows I adore him.

Here, take this

Kathy Liggett, Sugar Creek:

I knew I’d become my mother when I try to give my kids and now grandkids something every time they come to visit.

My mom, who passed away in 1992, would always try to give me something whenever I came to visit — something she had bought at a garage sale or just had and didn’t want anymore. I would try saying I didn’t really need it, whatever it was, but then I’d just decide to take whatever she wanted to give me because it made her feel good.

Now I do the same with my kids, but usually they just say they don’t want it unless it’s edible.

A smile for strangers

Jeane Boutell Slusher, Kansas City:

I knew I’d become my mother when I found myself chatting with strangers while waiting in line or standing in an elevator or, truthfully, anywhere people congregate.

My mother “never met a stranger,” much to my embarrassment as a teenager. I could not understand why she was driven to start up conversations with total strangers until I was well into adulthood — and realized that my mother just likes people.

She finds them interesting. She is kind. She wants everyone to be appreciated and happy. She spreads sunshine and leaves those she touches with a smile.

Seeing how smiling at a passing stranger has the power to lighten their load, how can I begrudge finding myself becoming my mother?


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