I’m sitting down to write this column and I can hear my mother in the other room. She’s talking on the phone with an old friend and laughing.

My mom has been through more way more than her fair share of sorrows in her life, sorrows that probably would have crushed a lesser woman, but she is still so vivacious and joyful. She has a magnetic quality. People are simply drawn to her. This used to be really annoying when I was a kid because it would take us forever to leave a party or get-together or church service because she would always be talking to people, but I understand it more now, I think.

Sometimes I think I should feel embarrassed that I’m 28 and live with my mom. But in addition to being the best financial choice, Mom is just legitimately cool. Part of growing up is realizing your parents are actual people, not “a parent,” and fortunately for me, the person my mom is, is awesome.

She predicted America’s sudden plunge into pandemic grayness. One day in February 2020, she told me that the news headlines looked like the headlines we see in the beginning of disaster movies (which, as a family, we love), and she made me buy a bunch of canned beans and hand sanitizer. Guess who never ran low on hand sanitizer?

Being a mom isn’t her whole identity, of course. In fact, the reason Mom writes her novels under her maiden name instead of her married name is that she wanted to have an accomplishment that was part of her life without being tied to her identity as a wife and mother. But she also has an aura of maternal-ness that surrounds her wherever she goes. She just gives off mom vibes. She only has three actual children, but she sort of adopts all of our friends. If you’re in trouble, Mom bails you out. If you need a place to stay, Mom opens her home. Even my pets like her best.

I don’t usually think of my mom as being radical – after all, she doesn’t swear and her accessories always match, and she still tells me to eat my vegetables. But she quietly and steadily swims against the currents of society that she doesn’t think are quite right.

She never cared much if we saw sex scenes in movies when we were younger, but she wouldn’t let us watch violence. She always let us control our own physical appearance. She was the family breadwinner. And she never comments on our appearance. Oh sure, she’ll tell me if she thinks my outfit is too formal or casual for a given occasion, but that’s about it. No talk about weight or passive-aggressive comments like “you’d look so pretty with a little makeup on.”

When I was drinking and inflated by 40 pounds, she didn’t mention that I looked like a loaf of bread just before being baked. And when I got sober and dropped 25 of those pounds, she didn’t praise me for it. (She did praise me for getting sober and for how chiseled my thighs got.)

I’ve been joking with Mom that I’m turning into her. And it is indeed possible that we are morphing into a singular sweater-clad bloblike hiveminded creature. There are endless books and movies and tv shows about fraught relationships between mothers and daughters. I can’t relate to those. Nothing here feels particularly fraught (except maybe when one of us finishes the last of the ice cream and doesn’t pick up more). There’s no better company for being trapped inside for all of 2020 (and some of 2021).

It’s funny – when I was growing up, I didn’t look like my mom. My dad’s genetics are very strong, and my siblings and I all looked like tiny clones of him. (Mom used to joke that she was just the incubator.)

But after I gained the grief weight, my face rounded out, and one day I looked in the mirror and Julia looked back at me. I’ve still got Dad’s eyes and nose and weird eyebrow furrow. But the rest is all Mom. I hope I look like my mom forever. But more importantly, I hope I can be like her forever. I don’t know if I’m going to have children, but if I do, and if I work very hard every single day, perhaps someday I can be one-10th of the mother she is. And she will have truly earned that ubiquitous “world’s No. 1 grandma” mug.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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