No matter where you start.
Yesterday we were all gathered at my daughter’s home for a cook out. Family and friends having a good time despite the rain and humidity. And as is always the case once summer hits, I had my hair up, and so did my daughter. I hate my hair, it is unruly and frizzy, and has a little curl that drives me nuts, with all these little stragglers that curl out and won’t go up. My daughter and I go to the same stylist and as we were sitting there chatting yesterday, Niki says how much she hates the little bit of curl in her hair, and how the other day, when Christine was doing her hair she stated that Niki really has her mother’s hair. Now I think my daughter has gorgeous hair, nothing at all like mine, but I guess there is a little of me in there after all.
This made me think back to a few months ago when I did a scrapbook page with a photo of Niki and I both as babies, and for the first time I realized, that yes, she does look like me in some ways. For years I thought she looked nothing like me. When I was young everyone always said I looked just like my Dad, and I did. But now that I am older, when I look in the mirror, I see my Mom. And when Niki was just a baby and my Mom would have her for the day or when we visited were she worked, everyone always said Niki could be her’s. Now I see all the likenesses between us when I see a photo of all three of us together and I love it, because while we are not all the same, there are some things that connect us, that show we belong together. That we are family.
As kids, I think we all hate having to do chores and being told what to do. And we rebel. And give our parents a hard time. I know I did. And then I had my own child. I found myself saying some of the same things my mother always said to me. Then my daughter started rebelling. I remember very clearly the day I apologized to my Mom for being such a trial to her as I dealt with Niki, and wondered how she had stayed sane and didn’t kill me. We all lived.
Then my daughter moved out on her own. With her second apartment, she lived with a male co-worker, and her boyfriend was there a good deal of the time. One day she says to me, “Every time the boys do the dishes, I have to tell them it includes wiping down the stove, the counters, and cleaning out the sink!” And almost every time she had to go behind them and do the a fore mentioned things. I laughed. And then laughed some more. And wondered. Did my Mom laugh when I said the same thing to her whenever Niki did the dishes when she was younger? Because I sure remember her telling us the same exact thing when we were kids.
I taught Niki to say please, thank you, and excuse me and to respect her elders. The same things I was taught and that I felt important for her to know. She is 26 now and married. They are in no hurry to have kids, there are things they want to do and buy before that. And there are many, many times when we are out together and we see unruly, snotty kids that she turns to me and says, “This is why I am not sure I want any.”
I hope she reads this. Maybe she will finally understand what I always tell her when she says that. It’s all in how you raise them. My mom raised me with the same values and morals she was raised with. And I in turn raised Niki with the same ideals. When we are all together; my grandma, my mom, aunts and uncles, and sisters and nieces and cousins, I see it in every one of us. I know that when Niki does decide to have kids, they will be taught the same things my Mom, me and she were taught. Her kids will not be unruly or obnoxious. And they will have some of the same characteristics that we all have. And they will belong to this wonderful line of people we call family.
Life is a circle.