I’m Turning Into My Mom! And I Feel Great About It

i'm turning into my mother
I’m Turning Into My Mom! And I Feel Great About ItHearst Owned

On sitcoms, in books, and over boozy brunches with friends, the sentence “I’m turning into my mother!” has become shorthand for the indignities of aging, a phrase that telegraphs, “I’m no longer the sharp, hot know-it-all. I’m becoming the impossibly out-of-date nudge in slip-on sneakers!”

But if mom jeans can be considered cool, then so, we argue, can our moms. After all, your mother earned her wrinkles and wisecracks by doing something pretty amazing—raising you into the person you are today. And she may also have brought up your siblings, broken the glass ceiling, fought untold battles (and demons), and done it all in boots made for walking.

In that spirit, we asked staffers and our outspoken Oprah Insiders, “How do you know you’re turning into your mother—in the best way possible?” Their answers might inspire you to call your mom on Sunday and say thanks.

“I’ve stopped being afraid.”

I was constantly in awe of my mother. She was fearless, squishing spiders with her bare hands and marveling, open-hearted, at severe thunderstorms that I cowered from. This way of being was so foreign from my natural state, I didn’t understand it. My mother passed away five years ago, and in the past year or so, I find myself becoming fearless. I love big storms. I’ve traveled, by myself, to Vietnam. While I don’t squish spiders with my bare hands, the knowledge that I’m becoming more like my mother is so heartwarming and reassuring. I miss her terribly. But I do feel she’s here, and my newfound serenity and next-level willingness to explore adventurously seem fully attributable to her.

—Gaby Feivor, 52, Eden Prairie, Minnesota

“I offer the benefit of the doubt.”

My mother is achingly earnest, the type of woman who will pose, unironically and often alone, for souvenir photos at tourist attractions, assume that the neighbor “forgot” to pick up the dog doo from her lawn before cheerfully scooping it up herself, and (to my unending terror) frequently pick up hitchhikers. Growing up, I saw these all as signs of naivete. Now I see them as signs of bravery. It is not cool or smart to steel yourself against the world; it’s lazy. As I grow into myself, I grow more toward my mother, slowly shedding the armors of sarcasm, skepticism, and self-seriousness—but still wishing she’d leave hitchhikers where she found them.

Charley Burlock, 26, Oprah Daily associate books editor

“I make a…unique impression.”

Let’s just say that my mom was a woman unfiltered and ready to speak her mind at all times. She was the type of woman who, instead of saying, “Do I know you from somewhere?” would say, “Do you know me?” Indeed, she once said that to Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, in an elevator. It could be embarrassing when I was a kid, but now I appreciate her quirky, assertive confidence. I hope that fearlessness continues to build in me as well—and I believe it is. Sometimes when I think, I can’t believe I just said that out loud, I know that everything is going according to plan, and she lives on in me.

—Holly Carter, 50, Oprah Daily contributing lifestyle editor

“I say hi to animals.”

Whenever I walk past a house and see a dog through the front gate or pass a dog tied up in front of a store waiting for its owner, I feel compelled to say, "Hi, Doggie!" I heard my mom do it the other day and realized we say it in the exact same voice. She tends to stop and have a longer conversation with the dog, and sometimes with its owner, whereas I keep moving. She's retired and has more free time for chitchat. Something to look forward to!

—Katherine Fausset, 48, New Orleans

“I ‘Grace Kelly’ my coat.”

We used to relentlessly tease my mom for draping her coat over her shoulders in restaurants—or pretty much anytime she was chilly. Now both my sister and I find ourselves doing the same. Lo and behold, it’s actually the perfect way to warm up. Thanks, mom!

Cassie Hurwitz, 27, Oprah Daily associate editor

“I’ve developed ‘mommy hands.’”

I’ve started being able to take a hot baked potato out of the oven without mittens, or fry chicken cutlets using my fingers to move them to the side to make room for another one in the pan. When my 11-year-old-daughter asks me, “How do you do it?” I say with a smile, “This is what happens when you get mommy hands.”

—Suri Stossel, 32, Lakewood, New Jersey

“My living room doubles as a wellness center.”

When she hit her 50s, my classical pianist mom started taking Alexander technique and Egoscue classes for body alignment, and our den filled with foam rollers, blocks, and giant upholstered cubes and triangles—even a hot paraffin bath for her hands. When I’d visit, she constantly demo weird stretches and slow breathing exercises, which tested my 20-something patience mightily. Now my living room looks like a physical therapy studio, and I am constantly rolling or stretching some body part or another. She’s in her 80s and still amazingly nimble and vibrant. I hope I will be, too.

Jennie Tung, 53, Oprah Daily senior director, wellness and features

“I offer cool comfort.”

Everybody wants their momma when they get sick. When I became a mother and my toddler was feverish, I’d put my cold hand on his forehead, and he would breathe a sigh. It brought me right back to the times my mother would do that for me. She’d be testing to see how hot I was, but also providing comfort with her cool touch. She always said, “Cold hands, warm heart,” and she was the embodiment of that phrase. I like to think I have carried on that experience for my children, and now my grandchildren, too.

—Sharon Wechsler, 64, Huntington, New York

“I’m a worrywart.”

Since becoming a mother, I’ve felt myself becoming more and more like my own mum. She’s always been a worrier—my sisters and I tease her about it. But now I’m well and truly following in her footsteps, and, actually, I feel fine about it. My own childhood was so full of love (despite plenty of adversity along the way) that if I can replicate that for my own daughter, I know I’ll be setting her up for life.

Rosie Hopegood, 37, Oprah Daily deputy health editor

“I’m sex-positive.”

When my younger sister and I were preteens, we diagnosed ourselves with “penis phobia,” telling our mom, Betti, that “penises are weird, and we will never touch one.” Betti replied, “Penises are wonderful. And one day, when you are ready, they will bring you much joy.” Betti wanted to make sure we never had guilt or fear about sex. She wanted us to enjoy it, which is why she sent me the Kama Sutra after I arrived at college a virgin. Now I have a very liberal view on sex with both my college-age kids. We talk openly about being safe but also enjoying a very fun part of life. We’ve always allowed their partners to sleep over and always provided a safe space to talk and ask questions. This is definitely from the tone my mom set for me.

—Daria Zawadzki, 49, New York City

“I feel overwhelmed with love.”

The other day I let out this little whimper-sigh noise as I hugged my son. It caught me off guard because I hadn’t meant to do it and, also, it was exactly like the sound my mom would make when she hugged me. I remember her doing this when I was a kid and thinking, God, Mom, you’re so dramatic; I get it, you love me so much as I wriggled away. My mom’s love was so accessible, so willing, so permanent that I took it for granted and ran back for more as I needed it. It’s the same with me and my kids now. Maybe a parent’s unconditional love should be a given, but my mom didn’t get that from her mother. She created it herself and passed it down to me.

Kate Sandoval-Box, 42, Oprah Daily beauty director

“I balance my budget.”

I could never convince my mother to buy me something I wanted. She'd always say in Spanish, “No puedo. Necesito hacer mis cuentas.” In translation, that means, “I can’t. I have to balance my budget.” It frustrated me, but now that I’m older and living on my own, I see why it’s crucial to have a budget. My mom was teaching me how balancing my cuentas leads to financial independence and responsibility. I’m grateful I practice those values—even if it means I have to curb my shopping habits from time to time.

Mandie Montes, 25, Oprah Daily associate social media editor

“I trust my kids’ judgment.”

I knew I was turning into my mother when I stopped trying to fix my sons’ problems and started allowing them to figure things out for themselves. When I became an adult, my mom often said she had already raised me and I knew right from wrong, and she never seemed to worry, at least not in front of me. Now I see my mother in myself, because I know that at the end of the day, whatever those boys are going through, it’ll work out. It always does! I have already raised my sons, and to watch them navigate through life is very rewarding. I am extremely grateful to her for raising me with dignity and planting this seed in all of our lives.

—Tasha McEastland-Mason, 48, Bourbonnais, Illinois

“I try to turn an average day into an adventure.”

I’m a new mom, so many of the natural parenting patterns I fall into follow exactly what my mom used to do with my brothers and me. She has a very magical way of making every activity—no matter how mundane or ordinary—feel special and fun. Now I find myself turning anything from a diaper change to a trip to the grocery store into a big, exciting adventure, usually complete with an original song. My daughter is only 8 months old, but she’s already my favorite activity buddy, just as I always was to my mom!

Maggie Maloney, 31, Oprah Daily site director

“I thicken the plot.”

My mother used to come up with what she called “scenarios” for strangers she observed out and about. (You have to imagine the word scenario pronounced in Greek, which is what we spoke. Senaaaaahrio.) She’d wonder why a man was, say, carrying a large plaid tote bag, and imagine a whole story about it. And I’ve started to do exactly the same thing—which is handy practice for a writer!

—Henriette Lazarides, 63, Cambridge, Massachusetts

“I go the extra mile with laundry.”

Growing up, I thought my mom could be a little “extra.” She was particular about how she did laundry, choosy about the gifts she’d give to others, and meticulous about her standard of quality for all things, from the meals she made to her routines. What I’ve learned with more life experience is that she has the kindest heart, always thinking of the best method to make life easier or more joyful. I inadvertently picked up this level of empathy first by being forced into her methods, then, later, by realizing there was always a good reason behind her choices. Now I’m both considerate and a 100 percent laundry snob.

Shelby Copeland, 29, Oprah Daily associate editor, social & livestream events

“I make life—and dinner—sweeter.”

I had a very difficult relationship with my mom, but there are a few things she taught me that I happily carry forward with my family. As kids, we never had to be told to clean our plates. She would portion our dinners so we would have enough room for dessert, which was part of our evening meal. My parents would compete to make the best cream puffs, German chocolate pound cake with chocolate Grande Marnier icing, lime chiffon pie, cherry pie, blueberry pie—I didn't always serve homemade desserts to my kids, but dessert is always part of the evening meal.

—Berneil Bannon, 70, Edwards, Colorado

“I’ll catch a glimpse of her while touching up in my rearview mirror.”

The horror has morphed into a gentle, kinder recognition. Yes, I am my mother using only cloth napkins, marching my children to church on Easter, and stopping traffic while I frantically apply lipstick during lights.

Leigh Newman, 52, Oprah Daily books director

“I catch more flies with honey.”

“Kill ’em with kindness.” That is the advice my mom gave me throughout my life. I’d come home crying about some stupid injustice, and she would have none of it: “Just kill them with kindness and move on.” It would embarrass the hell out of me how she would be so positive, like it was possible to change the world with a change of attitude. But I’ve since learned that there are very few situations where getting super angry actually helps in the long run. I think my mom knew, since she grew up poor in the South, that you have to use kindness, but also put yourself first, take care of your emotions, then do the thing you need to do with kindness. Thanks, Mom.

—Nicki Handy, 49, Nederland, Colorado

“When I speak, I hear her voice.”

I like to think my mother and I have always shared some similarities—the inevitability of growing up in a two-person household—but lately, it’s been most obvious in the subtle things. I see her (very Italian) mannerisms in my mirror, out of the corner of my eye. Her voice comes out whenever I take a photo of myself I don’t like (hey, at least we’re documented!) or when I hear a corny joke (har har, very clever). She is the best woman I know, and she has more patience, kindness, and tenacity than I could ever dream of having myself. It’s really something to aspire to.

Sofia Lodato, 24, Oprah Daily editorial assistant

All quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.

You Might Also Like