The past few days my mind has been occupied with planning my mother’s 90th birthday later in the year: a trip to Sydney and the theatre. Then to top it off, last night, after watching DNA Nation, I was trying to make sense of my mitochondrial inheritance (once again!). I’m still very confused about that and have lots to learn but I’m very grateful that Mum was willing to provide a sample, or my results would be even more ambiguous.
Unsurprisingly, these thoughts led me to reflect on which of my interests came down from her.
However, it’s not only our mother’s mtDNA that we inherit, it’s often their characteristics and interests. Is that nature or nurture I wonder? I’m far too close to judge which personal characteristics we share and don’t share, so I’m not even going down that path.
From Mum I inherited:
Photography – I’m fortunate to have quite a lot of family photos thanks to mum’s interest in it, especially impressive since money was often tight. She was a self-avowed head or legs-lopper in the days of the old Kodak cameras. Mum and Dad also gave me my first camera (birthday or Christmas?) and this engendered my life-long love of photography.
A love of cut flowers – though mum loved to arrange them whereas mine just get plonked in the vase. We both share a love of pansies and roses. I love frangipani, she hates it.
Baking – every Saturday was baking day in our house and Mum inherited her grandfather’s and mother’s baking expertise. There were always cakes and biscuits made weekly. My sweet tooth won’t let me give them up.
Sewing skills – but a limited amount of patience for it so that I’ve long since given up sewing clothes. She was a very skilled dressmaker and the finish on her sewing left nothing to be desired.
The wonders of nature – through bushwalks on Magnetic Island with her and dad during our holidays.
Theatre, dancing, tennis and other useful social skills: as I mentioned last week my mother was the prime mover in these areas. No doubt she was determined I’d have advantages she hadn’t had.
Craft – Mum has always enjoyed new craft activities from flower arranging to decoupage. Like most women of her era she could also crochet though knitting was never her thing. I thoroughly enjoy learning new creative skills but then there’s family history….a time-absorber.
Beautiful decorative items – we have completely different taste, but we both like those special-to-us touches in our homes.
Commitment – from persisting with giving me the best education and in a myriad small ways, I’ve learnt commitment to tasks.
“Eveready batteries” – this used to be one of my abilities in emulation of Mum’s busy days but sadly my family history has helped me to slow down – plus a somewhat better understanding of what’s good for my health.
Typing – Mum used to type my uni assignments for me at all hours and when she was no longer around after we moved to PNG I had to learn to type myself – the air was “blue”.
We don’t share:
A love of cats and dogs, though we always had cats around the house…Dad’s inheritance.
A love of reading – Mum was always one of those busy women who never stopped to read much so this is another inheritance from Dad.
A love of painting and wall-papering: wall painting drives me mad – give me growing grass any day.
The ability to sing – Mum has this, I don’t!
Fashion style – Mum has always been interested in the latest styles whereas for me it’s rather ho-hum. Like many of her generation she’s probably also more formal.
Religion – although this was a huge part of my life until my 40s I’ve sworn off it since then, to mum’s great disappointment.
Curly hair – to mum’s minor envy my hair is thick and wavy. Not sure where the waves came from.
When I was a young girl, people would say to me “gee you look like your mother” and then when they saw me with Dad “No, you look like your dad”. Obviously a mix of both in many regards.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since having children in my early 20s, it is how difficult it can be to do all the right things as a mother…my quote is “I’ve learned lots about myself I’d rather not have known”. For all these things, and others, I’m grateful to my mother for what she’s done and the enthusiasms she shared with me.