When Did I Become My Parents?
film / tv / lists / guides / news / love / celeb / video / think pieces / staff / podcasts / web culture / politics / dc / snl / netflix / marvel / cbr

When Did I Become My Parents?

By Mrs. Julien | Comment Diversions | January 26, 2013 | Comments ()

fisher 4.jpg

Because "birth control doesn't work in the dresser drawer," I am the youngest of four children. Eldest Sister recently asked me, "when did I become Mum?" Turning into our parents is just that insidious. Eldest Sister kind of did, but mostly didn't turn into our mother, because she was rebelling against it for all she was worth while raising her own children. The result? Eldest Sister's children will have different things to complain about. Poor Little Julien is an only child and I'm sad that he's never going to be able to turn to a sibling and say, "Christ, Mum is nuts!" before moving onto "Oh god, I'm just like my mother."

All in all, I had good parental units and I will admit to inheriting the following:

  1. a strong work ethic
  2. the compulsive need to correct people (genetics gets the blame)
  3. I am made of steel. It's a mixed blessing, but good in a crisis
  4. strong sense of ethics and morality
  5. a sense of humour

As a Canadian Edwardian Protestant, it nearly KILLED me to say those things about myself. I have friends who will respond with embarrassed silence, or "if you do say so yourself," when I have the temerity to say I'm good at something or I have done well. This is why I couldn't write "good" or "great" in number 5. It would be bragging.

These are things I flail wildly against:

"I can't be a perfectionist because everything isn't perfect," The Dowager Julien If it isn't perfect, or I'm not perfect, it, and I, am a failure. This is one of the heavy lifting ones. It means that if someone compliments me, I compulsively point out the part that's imperfect and therefore correct (see #2 above) their perception that I should be praised. Ta da!

The Dowager Julien isn't a hoarder, but she is a saver. If the item has any potential use, she must keep it until either a. she puts it to use, or b. she can give it away in the most productive way possible. She can't just donate things. They have to be donated to the right place at the right time. I've kept items tucked away for years because I was going to maybe use them or sell them online, or donate them to a specific charity sale. Yes, this way madness lies; moreover, it makes an excellent excuse to never actually clean anything out.Now, I just call the charity truck to GET IT OUT OF MY HOUSE! When I do this regularly, I look at things and think, "How is it possible this didn't make the first cut?"

The saving impulse is part of a larger "This Is Mine That Is Yours" issue. The Dowager Julien will call randomly and ask if I saw her pink Tupperware bowl when I visited Canada nine months ago because she can't find it; or, she'll bring a pair of knee highs with her to New Jersey because "I found them in the house but they aren't mine and I've already called everyone else and they don't belong to them, so I thought they might be yours." KNEE HIGHS! They weren't, but I kept them anyway. It made her happy.

Are you becoming your parent(s)? Is that necessarily a bad thing?

Header Image: "Darth Vader and Son" by Jeffrey Brown

Real-Life Celebrity Friendships and the 10 Most Popular Posts of the Week | Highlight's from the Adam Levine Hosted "Saturday Night Live" and the Return of the Digital Short

Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • True_Blue

    I am physically turning into my mother. I had noticed that a gap between my (lower) teeth had gotten noticeably wider as I got older. Not a big deal, it's not obvious and it's not like bits of food are falling out through the gap. Until I saw my mom had the gap between the exact same teeth on _her_ lower jaw. I asked her about it, and she mentioned that _her_ mother (that would be my grandma) has the gap too. !@#% you DNA.

  • wendy

    so what i'm learning from this thread is that the entire readership of pajiba is made up of neurotic, argumentative, pun-loving, introverted perfectionists, with a tendency for hoarding, fiery tempers, and a strong OCD streak.
    and i am no different.

  • Mrs. Julien


  • Without meaning to throw the man who gave me the gift of life under the bus, I don't like to think I inherited a whole lot from my Dad. But I'll give the old guy credit, there is no better person to have in your trench when the bullets are firing. He's generally AWOL for the day-to-day stuff but goes to Defcon 5 when the serious crap goes down.

    I think I inherited this. I'm miserable about sending birthday cards and such. But if you need a friend to hide a body, you give me a call.

  • McSquish

    From my dad, I got a love of terrible puns, a tendency to lecture, an instinctive need to argue about everything, whether I disagree or not, potentially debilitating shyness and a preference for quiet bookishness, and a great deal of joy in giving. I managed to avoid the alcoholism, but I suspect a bum GI tract saved me there. Also, I managed to marry a guy whith all his best qualities and few of the bad ones.

    From my mom, I got a tendency to try to do everything at once, even while driving, insecurity about my looks and whether anyone could possibly ever actually like me, a need to plan everything and the ability to just hunker down and get things done. I managed to avoid the narcissistic personality disorder, the constant need to be the center of attention, the lack of filter and related mood swings, the racism, the sexism, the inability to handle criticism or disagreement, the cruely, and the impatience.

    I work very hard to be sure that I absolutely never become my parents, though I try not to toss out the good stuff with the rest.

  • Mrs. Julien

    At all times, I assume people don't like me because I am awful, people simply endure me, even my closest friends and my spouse. Similarly, Little Julien only likes me because he doesn't know any better.

  • McSquish

    Ditto. One of my husband's best qualities is his willingness to reassure me ad nauseum that I am in fact a worthwhile human being. I've worked very hard to get past this now that I'm a mom, lest I pass the idiocy on.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I had a boyfriend who was not forthcoming with compliments, so I told him, "I just need to know you don't find me completely repulsive." His response? "I'll go you one better: I don't find you repulsive at all."

  • kirbyjay

    My father was an alcoholic, a slob, an embellisher ( some people call it lying) a sexist ( yes, my brother was the golden sun, my sister and I were "just like your mother") which I am none of, but he did have a good sense of humor when he wasn't being an asshole and he could be generous. So I'll take his good traits and claim them as my own.

    My mother was impatient and had an Irish temper, but she also taught us respect for your elders, right and wrong, manners and tolerance, which amazed me because when my father died she went back to the Catholic Church and became a raging homophobe.

    I can be opinionated and a know-it-all, I have an Irish temper, I'm very disorganized ( which I'm working on) but I am also generous and have a sense of humor, and taught my kids respect for people, right and wrong, manners and tolerance.

  • I think it might have been George Carlin who said you know you're getting old when you start leaving the same smell in the bathroom as your father used to.

    I'm not there yet, but at times I'm uncomfortably close...

    I also got crippling anxiety from both Ma and Pa, who, I can only assume, got it from each other.

  • Rochelle

    I'm not an addict, nor have I ever had a committed relationship with an addict, and in my family, that's considered a miracle. I have spent a lot of time and money on not being like my parents. But once I started working with young adults and teenagers I started hearing my parents words come out of my mouth and I realized some of it was good stuff. My parents taught me a lot about being my own person and thinking critically. I feel good about passing that on. I do make sure I'm sober when I'm saying it though, so that's different.

  • Three_nineteen

    I am carrying on the tradition of my mother and grandmother by completely forgetting things. I'm pretty sure that one of us has been in a grocery store every day since 1975 to pick up things we forgot in the initial trip.

  • SorayaS

    My sister and I are like carbon personality copies of each parent. My sister is easygoing, gullible, and patient like my mum and the both of them will avoid conflict of any sort, they're also both very relaxed about planning and organisation.

    My father and I will argue any point just for the sake of it (and are both know-it-alls), are highly organised and motivated, generally impatient and have a tendency to be perfectionists.

    I don't know how we all get along as well as we do.

  • apsutter

    Wow...this is me & my mom and my dad & little brother verbatim. Weird...

  • Greeting from down under. Holy shit do typhoons in Brisbane SUCK ASS. Its been raining non-stop for days which makes climbing up and down shipping cranes even more terrifying.

    From my father, I got his utterly insane sense of humor. When I was 8, he convinced me I was adopted on my birthday. Like him, I would go insanely far for a prank.

    From my mother, I am insanely tight about money. Its how I earned my navy nickname "Two-ply".

    I struggle not to pick up the bad shit. My father is a terrible hoarder. To this day, on the rare days I get to actually spend time in the apartment I pay for in the states, it looks like hotel room. Nothing on the walls, the floors, or anything out of place. I refuse to by shit unless I absolutely need it. Similarly, i am totally paranoid about having OCD, which my father and two brothers have been committed for at various points in our lives.

    Per my mom...she is the stereotype of a pill popping, doctor shopping, socially acceptable addict. Hence, I won't take even take aspirin.

    So despite not wanting to be the neurotic mess that are my parents...I am just as much as them...only in slightly different ways.

  • Skyler Durden

    Many of the traits I have adopted are things that I hate about myself. From my mother I inherited a crippling case of body shame and a 50's-housewife tendency for subservience. From my father I inherited a severe introversion that keeps me from making friends or getting promotions.

    Also, she died prematurely and he is a racist old crank, so I have that to look forward to.

  • Idle Primate

    my father verbally hated everyone, vociferously. but everyone i ever saw him meet was greeted with warm friendliness, generosity and curiosity. the man just loved talking to people and wouldn't say no to anything asked of him. I am slowly becoming someone who hates everyone on principle or in generalities, but loves meeting people individually. it is terrifying to witness yourself become your father.

  • katy

    It has long been evident that I got my dad's fiery temper, and it has taken me to some bad places unfortunately. And I see it already in my three year old son. Sometimes it serves a purpose to make action happen, but mostly it turns all of us into assholes. I also got from my dad a strongly goal oriented work ethic. If I decide that I want my life to go in a certain direction, I will make it happen. If I find that I've been too idle in goal setting for myself I get highly anxious and make immediate changes as needed. It's a very powerful feeling to know you're in control of your life.

    From my mom I got an intense need to nurture, care, and feed others, but also a great love to be fed myself (life long weight issues, natch). I also got her cool detachment to people, and life in general. This is an interesting mix. Please let me feed you, listen to you, and make you feel better, but then go away for a while and leave me the fuck alone.

    Strange combinations. I'm thankful for the people who love me.

  • Bodhi

    I have always stressed out about things to the point of making myself sick. I've (generally) gotten much better about it, especially after my father voluntarily checked himself into to a facility to get a handle on the 30+ years of built up anxiety. I'm also a night owl like my dad, but I require far more than his average of 5 hours a night sleep.

    I love to read, which I get from both my writer/editor father & writer/librarian mother & I think that naps are a gift from God. (My in-laws don't believe in naps for anyone over the age of 5, which is a whole 'nother thing).

    Other than the things above, I didn't really think that I was "turning into" anyone, until the fateful day my son got lose of me, ran straight into the path of an oncoming SUV in the library parking lot, & I screamed "[Toddler] get your ass back here!" I normally don't talk like that in regards to my son, but the second I opened my mouth I turned into my 5'5" Naval master machinist Geechee as hell grandfather. The kid stopped short & ran back to me & after I stopped shaking I called my cousin & we laughed about it for a little while

  • e jerry powell

    If anything, I'm headed in the opposite direction. Except for my temper. That's just like my father's pre-Stephen Covey disposition.

  • Gabs

    The absolute most annoying thing my mother gave me: the tendency for righteous anger to unexpectedly shift into tears. I HATE this. Makes the whole 'anger' thing much less intimidating.

  • Bodhi

    I do that too & it really makes it hard to get my point across

  • bleujayone

    I first noticed I became like my father a few years before actually becoming a parent. I was a football coach for one of the local high school teams. There were a few moments where I would catch myself teaching or even saying a few things that my father did with me when he was trying to coach me. I didn't think too much of it. I chalked it up to the former student passing on the lessons brought before him but perhaps with my own personal spin and little more....or so I thought.

    Then one day I had to break up a bad fight between teammates. I after several tense moments of trying to pry two boys each with budding alpha male tempers saturated with testosterone, one of them caught me in the face with a blow meant for his nemesis. In that moment I became my father trying to break-up a scuffle between my brother and I. LOST. IT. Surprisingly, I didn't curse- a similar trait my father has always had even though I would normally and causally talk like a longshoreman. I barked out my anger in a clear and articulate tone usually reserved for grizzled drill sergeants and Deep South Baptist ministers and began spewing out a whole plethora of well worn catch-phrases and cliches that my father had coined over the years. There must have been something to this. I thought of myself as a normally jovial and laid-back person with these kids, but today kids got the leather-lunged impression of my father for the next 10 minutes in between bloody spit-takes of my bitten tongue. I finished it off with making the entire team minus the two dipshit pugilists take a few laps around the entire field and made the two remaining kids stand there with their heads down in total silence because, "You two are too much of a disappointment to be worthy of playing anything but fools right now!", which was said in the same tone my father would say to us in such a manner that it always felt like an instant guilt trip.

    Oddly enough the reaction for the kids was about the same as when it was expressed by me 20 years before. I swear I thought a couple of them were on the verge of tears. When that moment came, I realized my mouth was the source of all this wrath. I came back down from Antinostalgia Point and carried out practice for the rest of the day as I usually did. I then took the two fighting kids aside and told them under no circumstance do I ever want them fighting again. They both quickly agreed and shook hands but I noticed they both looked at me with a wary eye, like they would have agreed to anything at that point. What they didn't know was that I was probably more shaken than they were; not because I got popped in the yap, but because that was all it took for me to carry on the cycle. It would seem I am more my father's son in ways I hadn't considered...which is not entirely a bad thing.

  • TheOtherGreg

    I think we become our parents when we become parents. Until then, breaking the mold is OK, but after, we panic, and even if our parents weren't great models, at least they were models, and kids don't come with instructions.

  • Tracer Bullet

    When I started having sex with my mother.

  • Idle Primate


  • ,

    Other than my love of reading and napping on the couch, I don't think so.

    Oh, maybe the fondness for puns. That would have been dad. I don't detect any real sense of humor in mom.

    Mrs. , seems to have her parents' affection for clutter and not a lot else, thank goodness.

    Their family dynamic is interesting, though, opens itself to all kinds of amateur psychological analysis, which I am happy to provide for free, based on the handful of basic psych courses I took in college 35 years ago.

    There were three girls and a boy, and Mrs. , was the middle girl. She wasn't the first child, so she isn't the princess; she wasn't the last girl, so she isn't the baby; and she wasn't the boy, so she isn't the boy. She is the middle sister, and therefore is the pleaser, the one who always feels like she has to try to make everything right and perfect and, since that is impossible, always feels like a failure at it.

    I have made it my (apparently lifelong) project to try to correct this.

  • Mitchell Hundred

    From my mother's entire family: a tendency to make esoteric puns out of whatever material is available. This tends to get more common when there are a lot of us in one place.

    From my father: a rather stoic, introverted personality.

    From my father and my maternal grandfather: a stubbornly regimented approach to life. I enjoy organizing things. My parents refer to me as Mini-[maternal grandfather's name].
    I also have a tendency to worry constantly about everything, although I am really not sure where I got that from.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I have found this remarkably helpful...

blog comments powered by Disqus