Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 11: Is that Your Older Sister?

December 11 Reverb Broads Prompt: How are you like your mother? And if you're a mother, how is/are your kid(s) like you? Courtesy of Jessica at
When I was a teenager and my mother would take me shopping for new school clothes, often in an attempt to find jeans long enough for my insanely leggy growth spurts, I remember being horrified when cashiers or sales ladies would ask "Are you two sisters? You look so much alike." This infuriated me. I rolled my eyes and in a huffy and irritated voice I would mumble, "No, that's my mom, jeez." My mother would giggle and blush, turn to me and say, "She thinks we're sisters!" She'd say thank you and then proceed to engage in a lengthy and personal conversation with the sales lady in question, compounding my irritation into a nearly visible cloud of indignation floating up around my permed bangs. I would sigh deeply and stand there holding my shopping bag, probably filled with slightly too short jeans and some kind of slouchy brightly colored sweater, and wait. Increasing the volume of my sighs sometimes hurried her up, but usually she would wave me off while she finished chatting. I hated this whole thing. Why did she talk to strangers? Why did we have to look alike? Why didn't people realize how old she was?
Now I take it as a compliment that we look alike. She's aged pretty darn well and I hope I do too. Our looks are similar, and while we don't have everything in common, we do have a few key things. We are both fairly tall, I'm quite tall and she's above average. We both have hazel eyes that tend towards the green when we are happy and dark brown when angry, so usually more green. We both freckle instead of tan. We can't hold our liquor. We love people watching and Christmas lights. We both have approachable personalities that somehow draw out the revealing and often strange stories of people we've never met, including the homeless, mentally ill and any customer service staff. We both remain calm and organized under pressure. We both have sweaty palms. We both like make-over shows. We both have good phone voices.
But we are also very different. I'm more forceful and pushy, vocal and demanding. She is certainly nicer and more laid back and easy going.  She was raised to be a mother and housewife, and a people pleaser. I was raised to be anything I wanted to be. She tends to be a bit gullible and sweetly naive, while I tend to take advantage of that with a deep level of sarcasm. She likes to be close to home, spending time in warm, familiar spaces with her closest friends. I've been to Africa twice, travel often and love new places, and food she would consider weird. I'm very liberal. She is quite conservative. She is religious. I'm decidedly not. But she's my mom. I love her. So these differences aren't nearly as important as the things we have in common, things that she helped instill in me. And our differences, like my extreme independence, may be things that frustrate her but they are also the things that she wanted for me. So if she takes credit for my positive attributes then she has to for the negative too, right?



bethany actually said...

I can't believe I've known you as long as I have and I've never met your mom. I hope that changes one of these days!

lanie@ plumb tuckered said...

negative traits? WHAT negative traits?

Jess Banks said...

That's just perfectly wonderful. I know just what you mean about those resemblance conversations -- I was always torn between being flattered, appalled, and disbelieving. Somehow, that resemblance seems to gloss over rather big personality differences, even when I'm just thinking about us. Thank you so much for writing!