To celebrate Mother’s Day, Sarah Garden looks at whether we really do turn into our mothers. For her, the prospect is quite scary…
“Daaarling, don’t get a dog,” my mum’s southern Irish accent booms down the phone. “You obviously need to nest, but a dog is a huge commitment. Why don’t you get married or something?” Welcome to logic à la my mother, otherwise known as a comprehensive flow of life advice you should never, under any circumstances, take.
I have spent my whole life trying to ensure I don’t turn into my mother. Not because I don’t love her – far from it, the woman is hilarious – but because I can’t imagine going through life with such a limited level of common sense.
She often has a good point in there somewhere. I probably shouldn’t get a dog: I’m not very good at anything that involves caring for anyone other than myself. I change my mind about where I want to live twice daily, and I don’t have a single dirham of savings. But, then again, these are all pretty good reasons why I’m not ready to get married either.
While these days I’ve learned to take her advice with a (generous) pinch of salt, as a child I followed her every word. As a remarkably terrible singer, I was asked to clap the beat for the school choir. Yet my mum dragged me along to audition for a loosely famous pop band (type S Club Juniors into Google) in front of over a thousand people. Let’s just say I didn’t get in. There was also the time she persuaded me to audition to be Cho Chang in Harry Potter, but there’s no need to elaborate on the reason I didn’t bag that part.
By the time I hit my teens I was starting to question her logic. At 17 I went to Paris with a friend from school. We’d never left the country without a parent, and arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport at 10pm without a map, directions to our hotel, or even a general idea which quarter it was in. “Mum what shall we do? We’re lost!!!!” I texted in panic. The reply came back swiftly: “Wonderful! Getting lost is the best way to see everything. Love you mon chéri!” We found our hotel three hours later. To be fair we did see a lot of Paris that night – just through a curtain of mascara-blackened tears.
A recent poll of 1,000 women found that we turn into our mothers at 31. Yet as I creep into my mid-twenties, I can see it coming already. My friends, who are simultaneously evolving into their mums, are becoming ever more careful, levelheaded and conscious of coaster-use, while I seem to get more outré by the minute.
Maybe it’s because I’m starting to appreciate my mum’s strengths too. Her fanciful approach to life may be a little unorthodox, but she’s also the funniest person I know. Although she didn’t pass down rationale, or any practical life skills (I actually melted my favourite dress with an iron this morning), she certainly taught me how to enjoy life. That’s certainly a trait I don’t mind growing into.
On her last trip to Dubai I got a panicky text from her at the airport: “I didn’t have time to get everything you wanted from duty free so I just got the essentials –make-up and two bottles of bubbly!” Maybe she has more common sense than I give her credit for…
Illustration: Aimee Sawyer