Thursday 22 February 2018

There's no escaping it. . . we do all end up like our mothers

As Mother's Day nears, Deirdre Reynolds asks why girls everywhere are so scared of turning into their mum

Mum's the word: Deirdre Reynolds and her mother
Mum's the word: Deirdre Reynolds and her mother
Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

All women become like their mothers... you know the rest. But as we celebrate mums this weekend, was Oscar Wilde right about the fate that awaits girls everywhere?

It could be an errant grey hair or a turn of phrase, but most of us have had that jolting moment when you look in the mirror and realise that you don't just resemble your mother -- you're turning into her.

And a new study has even pinpointed 32 as the age at which the mother metamorphosis -- symptoms of which include the use of phrases such as "'She' is the cat's mother", napping in the afternoon and watching Fair City -- is complete.

With thick, unruly hair and an equally stubborn streak, there's no denying that my mother and I are cut from the same cloth.

Yet, while at my age she was successfully juggling four small children, I'm still firmly resisting motherhood and marriage.

As a big-hearted care worker, hard-working homemaker and grandmother with the mostest, like lots of twenty-somethings, I could do a lot worse than emulating my Ma.

So why are we so afraid of the genetically inevitable -- and does it have to be such a tragedy after all?

"We live in a very mother-blaming culture," says psychotherapist Trish Murphy. "Our primary relationship is with our mother -- so it can be very easy to blame her for everything.

'Women have a very complex relationship with their mother. Growing up, they may have seen her go through things like the menopause -- so they reject becoming like her because they don't want to suffer in the same way.

"Fear of turning into your mother is partly down to fear of the ageing process itself."

Blame nature or nurture, Tinseltown is littered with doppelganger mums and daughters including Madonna and Lourdes Ciccone, Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson and Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli.

"It isn't quite true that we turn into our mother (or father)," adds Dr David Carey of, "we just develop some of the same traits and mannerisms they had.

But while 17% of us fight the process, 37% are happy to follow in the footsteps of the most inspirational person in their lives, according to the study.

He-Shi fake tan co-founders Hilary and Shelley McMurray from County Down aren't just mother and daughter -- they're best pals and business partners too.

"I had no qualms about going into business with my mum," says Shelley (29) of the unisex self-tan brand named after the duo.

"As an only daughter, we've always been close -- so there's a trust there. Apart from the business, we've got lots of shared interests like tennis and go for a facial together every six weeks.

"I get told every day that I look like my mum -- the only thing I don't want to turn into is a workaholic like her!

"The biggest challenge for us is not talking about work all the time," admits mum Hilary.

"But with her academic qualifications and my experience, Shelley and I make a great team. How many other mothers get to see their daughter every day?"

And this Sunday, forget flowers and chocolates -- the best compliment you could pay your mother is embracing your similarities says Trish Murphy.

"The traits you focus on are the traits you will develop," she explains. "So stop worrying about turning into your mother so much and concentrate on emulating all the things you love about her instead!"

Irish Independent

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