Musings of a Midlife Mama
The other day while running a myriad of errands, one of which was getting my drive-through Diet Coke at McDonald’s, I looked out the window and in the rear view mirror was my mom’s hands. It took me a second to realize the left hand I’d flung out the opened window and was riding the wind was my hand. It just looked like my mom’s.
All my life I’ve been told I look like my dad. I have his dark Irish looks, brown hair and brown eyes. My mom is fair and has the most amazing blue eyes you’ve ever seen, none of her three children inherited the color of her eyes.
Not once has anyone told me either in awe or frustration, “You are just like your mother.” But I have been told in wonder and anger, “You’re just like your father.” I’m hard headed. When I was a teen, my dad used to tell me during our many face offs, “You’re a one-way chick.” It takes one bull to know another. I’m dramatic, a story teller, a comedienne, and I’ve been known to break out in song, just like my dad. I have the intense need to be right and have a hard time apologizing just like dear ol’ dad. I’m outgoing and can talk to anyone because of my dad. He’s always reaching across the aisle. I can be quite provocative, my word. My children would say gross and inappropriate. I’ve responded in the same way over the things my dad says.
But that day with my arm flung out of the window and the moment where I saw my mother’s hands when looking at my own, I thought of ways I’m like my mom, ones in which had been overshadowed by those traits I’d inherited from the Murphy side.
- Four Generations of First Daughters: Mom, Molly, Grammer and Me
I have high cheekbones and fine, petite features like my mom. Inside, the quietness of my mother has balanced out the craziness of my father. It’s one of the reasons why I haven’t thrown myself headlong down the alcoholic path. My mom is one of the most stoic women I know. My dad’s family have named her “Saint Monita.” She treats every day with the same regard. “Let’s get ‘er started.” She’s done this for the last four decades of her adult life on days when I’m sure she thought it better to lie in bed all day or when the day was turning to shit and anyone of us would have gone back to bed, not my mom. Since the age of nineteen when she married my dad and then had me at twenty, she’s been getting up, making breakfast, getting dressed and putting her head down to get it done. I’ve inherited this roll up your sleeves and just do it attitude, in spite of the melancholy calling me back to bed.
After people read my writing, they often ask, “So when did your parents get divorced?” What? My parents have been married for almost fifty years. “It’s because you don’t really mention your mom.” They’re right. My dad is bigger than life, a hell of a character. But my mom is a woman of character and substance. She is always there even if I don’t write about her; she’s always there. My dad may be the spirit in which I write, but my mom is the heart.
I know it’s too simplistic to say but I’ll say it anyway. My dad is the devil on my shoulder and my mom the angel, and I love the fact I’m a jumbled mess of it all.
What have you inherited from your mom?