Despite a fight, Ari feels she is turning into her mother.

I was zipping around Target the other day, trying to find a floaty cellulite-disguising cover-all for trips to the local pool with my energiser-bunny, I mean toddler. I was rifling through racks of gossamer tents with fake diamonds splattered all over them, when I spotted a shelf full of Christmas t-shirts.

Well. See ya later sparkly-cellulite-tent, hello Mr Claus!

I pounced on the piles of festive shirts – think fat men and reindeers and lots of plastic-looking sparkles – wondering if I should buy a bunch for the whole family so we could sit around on Christmas Day wearing them and giggling at one another because, SO FUNNY!

I was entranced with this Christmas Day vision until, quite suddenly, I wasn’t. I remembered that I hugely dislike Christmas t-shirts because they are the daggiest things on the planet, on a par with shorts and long socks and sandals in fact. I then went quite pale when I realised that, not only do I hate Christmas t-shirts, but I only know one person who actually likes them. That person proudly buys a Christmas t-shirt every year to wear on Christmas Day, and bustles around saying, “Do you like my new Christmas t-shirt? I think it’s rather neat!”

That bustling Christmas-t-shirt-person is my Mother. Bless her.

 

This means, despite my best and most conscious efforts, I am becoming my Mother via an unavoidable genetic blueprint.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my Mum but I, ahem, don’t want to be her. It seems inevitable, however, that I will soon be saying, “What about wearing a nice pair of slacks with that top?” or “Put some lipstick on dear, you’re starting to look sick!” or “Nice to see you jazzing up your outfit with some colour after all those years of wearing black!” As I do not have a daughter, I will probably say these things to my son. And he is only three. It could get weird. Maybe?

I’ve spent a long time trying not to become my Mother, as has my sister. There have been a number of Extremely Earnest conversations about the most effective avoidance strategies. Christmas t-shirts aside, I’m not sure how well it’s working. Everyone thinks everyone is someone else on the phone. My sister thinks I’m Mum, Mum thinks I’m my sister, I think my sister is Mum and Mum is my sister.

Everyone calls everyone else “dear” like we’re a bunch of old biddies at a knitting circle, who have forgotten all the jolly names but held on to general niceties.

How does it happen, this becoming-Mum business?  One day you’re a hip young thing, if I do say so myself, contemplating buying a moped and holding out hope for that backpacking trip through India, and two seconds later you not only want to walk around in an ill-fitting shirt with a fat man emblazoned across your chest, you want everyone else to join in. Be part of the gang. Contribute to the Christmas jollity. Ho ho ho! We’re all wearing the same shirt! Our shirts have a Christmas theme and we’re wearing them on Christmas Day! How hilarious! Ho ho ho, indeed. That sort of thing.

I’m none the wiser as to how it happens, really. It all seems so inevitable, especially after a certain age. Perhaps I should just give in. Stop fighting it. Down tools. Surrender to the transcendental glory of intergenerational Mum-ness.

As well as saying “slacks” and whipping out a red lipstick at any sign of a peaked complexion, I will also have to walk around saying “hmmmm” constantly, and to no one in particular, like I’m giving a commentary – incoherent but a commentary nonetheless – on the general proceedings of the day. Any old day will do. Heck, every old day will do. There are 365 days in the year, and each and every one of them could do with a “hmmmm” or two.

Come to think of it my Mum’s Mum used to “hmmmm” relentlessly too, even between sips of tea. Sip. “Hmmmm.” Sip. “Hmmmm.” Sip. “Hmmmm.” So there it is. Genetics again. I am probably destined to turn into my Grandmother, “hmmm-ing” and supping tea like nobody’s business, before I tootle off to bowls.

Maybe I’ll take a quick trip back to Target and whizz by the Christmas t-shirts again. Just to make sure that they’re as daggy as I think they are.

Hmmmm.

Author

Ari has had work published in Australia, England, Japan and Singapore. She has a delightful toddler, Gabriel, who was born with coffee in his veins. She is currently completing her first novel as part of a PhD project.

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