Ok, so I’ve been wanting to blog about this for a couple months now — since I returned home, really. I think I’ve hesitated because it’s a pretty personal topic.
See, growing up, I always thought I was more like my dad. I’m not sure if this was my actual perception, or if I was just really irritated by stuff my mom did, and therefore thought I was more like my dad. My mom has always been kind of forgetful and super anal. It seemed like she was always “fussing” around, cleaning stuff up and handing out to-do lists. You can imagine how much this irritated me as a teenager.
I pretty much kept this perspective until about a month ago. I moved back into my parents’ home. I integrated myself into the daily routine that existed here, and discovered something:
My mother and I are almost exactly alike.
In the three years that I’ve maintained my own home — as well as the years I lived away from my parents in college — I developed many of the exact same habits as my mom.
We both talk to ourselves when we do stuff (out loud, shamelessly). We both pick up and clean compulsively — especially the kitchen. We don’t ask for help very often. When we do ask for help and don’t get an immediate response, we do it ourselves. We tend to bottle up anger — and it’s easy to tell when we’re doing so. We tend to snap, blow up, and then require a cool-down period. We like routines — especially in the morning. We tend to take care of the people in our household (excessively so). We both tend to forget things unless we write them down.
Hell, we even both have loud sneezes and say “What?” the same way when asking someone to repeat something. My sister routinely tells me that I’ve “pulled a mom.”
At first, to be completely honest, I was shocked (and kind of upset). But as I thought about it more — and watched my mom — I realized I’m not actually upset. That was more a knee-jerk reaction to the way I’ve always seen my mom’s habits (read: annoying).
In fact, I actually understand where she’s coming from, and I can better appreciate what she does — because I do it myself. Seeing my mom do these things (after almost certainly doing them for at least the 30 years she’s run her own home) gave me some perspective. For example, I now understand why my mom has “to do” lists for everyone — because (intentionally or unintentionally) people take advantage of her willingness to just do everything herself, and to-do lists are her way of nipping this in the bud.
Having realized this, I’m not sure where to go from here. For instance, I see that her compulsion to clean can make her unhappy, because she feels like she is constantly running around after the four of us and the dog, cleaning up to maintain the house. I have felt this way, too (and I only lived with one other person!). But that doesn’t change the drive to do it. And once she (and I) have seen that something is dirty or out of place, we cannot forget about it until it’s addressed.
At this point, I’m torn. I understand why she’s doing it, because I do it myself. BUT I CAN SEE THAT IT MAKES HER UNHAPPY. And I know it makes me unhappy when I do it. What do I do? I guess it’s kind of like getting to see into the future a little bit. What is the best way to handle this? CAN I manage this?
I guess this was where the title of this post came from — they say the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. And, they also say that the things that irritate you most in others are actually the things that irritate you most about yourself. In this case, both items ring true. So … where do YOU fall? Are you surprised at all?
Currently loving: The idea of a Florida visit in early December (^_^), Mad Men on demand, the beautiful fall Seattle weather
seriously cute image from Jake Spurlock