Every mother has mommyisms. These phrases are typically derived from life experiences and hand-me-downs from their own mothers. Here are some Soviet-inspired nuggets I got from my mom:
- You can never be too rich or too thin.
- Only prostitutes wear anklets.
- If you have a gap between your legs, you’re a whore.
- If you’re a pretty secretary, then you’re a “secretutka” (a word formed by combining the Russian word for secretary and prostitute).
- If it was 2008-2016, everything was Obama’s fault.
- Every other year, it was the rest of the anti-Semites.
- If you laugh too hard, you’re going to cry.
- It’s good to keep one of every kind of medicine in the house just in case. (Expiration date, irrelevant.)
- If you want to shit, take your pants off.
- You should always wash your vagina before bed.
Rather than emerging organically into the woman I wanted to become, I concentrated all my efforts on trying NOT to become my mother. I didn’t look like my mother and I certainly didn’t think I had any of my mother’s personality. It seemed we always disagreed on almost everything. Politics, child-rearing, the appropriate amount of alcohol to consume.
Recently I’ve come to the conclusion that whether it by genetics or imitation, a mother’s traits or behaviors will inadvertently penetrate a child. Last week, after 13 1/2 years, as if I was possessed, I said, “One day I’ll be dead and you’ll miss me.”
As soon as my mother’s words escaped my mouth, I felt like I should drop some dollars in the “Future Therapy for my Children” jar. I knew I was playing the Jewish guilt card, but that’s exactly what I was feeling. I felt taken for granted for the millionth time and it just came out in an ugly (PMS) moment.
My son is almost fourteen and he knows it all better than me and is quick to tell me about it. I’m told this is called “American teenager” and it is supposed to be a temporary condition and very normal. It helps him to be condescending as he stands more than six inches above me. Most surprising is said teenager is sweet, kind, polite, and very intelligent. He’ll hold the door for everyone but me, because, duh, I’m his mother, I can hold my own door.
But that’s the thing about mothers. You don’t realize what they do for you until you do it for your own kids. You can focus on what your mother never did for you, and feel resentment as if you were entitled to more. Or, we can have our own children, and become the mothers we always wanted to have. The irony of this logic is that you end up mothering your kids the way you wanted to be mothered, rather than stepping back to see what kind of mother will ultimately serve your children best.
People are constantly telling me they think I’m funny and I usually roll my eyes. I’m not funny; I’ve never thought of myself as funny. My husband is funny; he’s a professional clown! What’s so funny about me? My funny is just hashtag no filter. While people laugh at these witty, often-inappropriate and self-deprecating come-backs, I finally realize, “I got this from my mother.”