Just wait until you have a daughter ... who's not like you
Many years ago, in the midst of my rebellious teenage years, my mother used to say, "Just wait until you have a daughter of your own. And I hope she's just like you!"
I always suspected that this was a form of revenge rather than a compliment. But now that I'm a mother, it's apparent that her wish has backfired: Instead of having a daughter just like me, I have a daughter who's just like my mother.
In fact, they get along so well that I used to wonder if I were really living with a 60-something woman stuffed into the body of a third-grader.
As impossible as this sounds, it would sure explain a lot of things. Like why, for instance, when Heather was 5 years old her favorite dress-up outfit was a midlength polyester dress with a wide lace collar, a pair of white gloves, patent leather shoes, and a red clasp handbag.
While I spent my kindergarten years dressed up like ballerinas or fairy princesses, Heather spent hers looking more like Queen Elizabeth leaving the royal palace for a luncheon.
Strangely enough, my mother has the same outfit. You just can't ignore a coincidence like that.
Now, I love my daughter, and I'm happy she idolizes her grandmother, but I can't help wondering how I'm supposed to relate to such a puzzling child who's so different from me.
I mean, how in the world can I ever understand a daughter who likes to embroider pillowcases? I am the type of person whose sewing kit contains a bunch of dull pins, some dental floss, and a stapler.
I acquired my only domestic training in the home economics class that I was forced to take in high school because the art classes were full.
I spent the entire semester trying to thread the sewing machine, and the one time I did manage to turn it on, it trapped my sleeves under the bobbin and stitched a seam up my right arm before I could pull the cord out of the wall with my foot.
So you can imagine how having a daughter who knows the difference between a backstitch and a French knot would baffle someone like me.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing something wrong. But it's not as though I'm not trying.
One time, when Heather wanted to bake homemade cookies, I bought a bucket of cookie dough and cleaned out all of the extra wrapping paper and shoeboxes that I usually store in the oven. But I don't think she was fooled by my feeble attempt at domesticity.
Many years ago I used to imagine having a daughter just like me. I pictured us having a great time cooking frozen pizza together, scattering shoes around, and stapling up the hems of our pants. We'd go hiking together and stay up late watching old movies - and we'd have no idea what a satin stitch is.
Well, it didn't work out that way. However, I noticed something strange the day that Heather wanted me to help her sew a new dress.
"How about tie-dying a T-shirt in the bathtub instead?" I suggested hopefully.
"No way!" she said, rolling her eyes.
I was shocked to see the same eye roll I used to give my own mother many years ago.
After that I began to notice other similarities as well. Such as how we both laugh at the same corny jokes and have trouble doing long division. How we hum when we're nervous, we don't like to wear socks with our tennis shoes, and how we love butterflies.
The real proof came the day Heather decided she wanted to roller skate because she saw the other children in the neighborhood doing it.
She went onto the driveway and strapped on her skates and helmet. Then she refused to let anyone help her, even though she kept falling down over and over again. But by dinnertime she had taught herself how to skate almost as well as the other kids could.
That made me realize that underneath the surface, my daughter and I are more alike than I thought.
Oh, and now that she's entering the sometimes rebellious teenage years, she's used the old eye roll plenty of times.
When that happens, I want to tell her in my best "I've been there" kind of voice, that all of the rules are for her own good. And that I love her and want her to grow up to be safe and responsible and all that.
But instead, all that comes out is, "Just wait until you have a daughter of your own."