Everyday I feel like I’m more and more becoming my mom.
I know that might strike you as odd. I think it’s not that unusual for women to feel that they are becoming more like their mothers as they get older. I know my sister feels that way sometimes. Maybe guys usually feel like they become more like their dads as they age, but my dad wasn’t very present.
To say we didn’t get along is really a huge understatement.
I am aware that I look like my father, but emotionally and mentally I’m like my mother. When I look at my hands, I see her hands. When I write something down, I notice that I am holding my hand just like she did when she would write a check or make a note. If I catch a glimpse of myself in the rear-view mirror of my car as I drive, I realize that I concentrate just as she did as I move through traffic.
But even more than those physical aspects, what I notice is that I think like her. I experience emotion the way she did. I interact with my husband in ways I saw her interact with other people she was close to.
Don’t get me wrong… Without question, I am my own person. I am Radleigh Valentine. And yet, there is no getting around the fact that a part of me is Wanda Valentine (my mom.) Her essence is with me. Not just spiritually (because she is clearly watching over me all the time) but also there are aspects of her personality and mannerisms that I have assimilated.
The nature of the relationship between our physical selves and our spiritual selves has been very much on my mind lately. I realize I may be “late to the dance” on this issue (frankly, that happens more often than I’d like to admit) but I’ve found my spiritual/emotional/mental self having conversations with my physical body a lot lately. It’s a growing awareness that the physical (the animal body aspect?) has its own sort of quiet emotion – it’s own fears and joys separate from what I am mentally and emotionally aware of. When we ignore that and just consider our physical bodies as basically just a metaphorical taxi that gets our consciousness from point A to point B, we miss something important. We are far more prone to abuse or neglect our bodies and our health if we forget that this human experience is a partnership between the spiritual and the physical vessel we’re temporarily inhabiting.
This growing awareness on my part has led me to try to express gratitude to my body – mentally and vocally – for it’s part in helping me to use the human experience to grow as a spiritual being.
Which leads me back to the whole aspect of the power of our parents in our lives. We may have (or had) a positive experience with a parent (like my mother) or a negative one (like my father) but negating their contribution to the body we inhabit – and therefore to the emotional element our bodies bring to our existence – simply distances us from understanding the fullness of who we are in this lifetime.
Yes, I loved my mother and her amazing family. They also had the tendency to die extremely young. For example, it was not uncommon for them to pass away before the age I am now.
On the other hand, I wasn’t close to my father or his family but they tended to live extremely long lives. So to deny my dad’s contribution is to forget to be grateful that he balanced out what could’ve been a very short life had I only picked up DNA from my mother’s side.
The sense that I am “becoming my mother” is of course an illusion. I am still me. There is no one else for me to be.
And yet, seeing her in my hands, my eyes, and the way I move… those things remind me of where I came from. And that in turn reminds me to be grateful.
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