Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | May 29, 2015

What if I am like my mother?

tracy and mom

Back in February, I wrote about being a selfish mother.  I wondered aloud whether my mother was right – that I am, in fact, selfish?  After fighting against her words for most of my life, I finally held up my white flag.  I conceded:  I am selfish.  And I breathed one huge sigh of relief.  BUT it turns out that being selfish is actually one of my greatest strengths.  In a culture where mothers are glorified for their selflessness (and as a result are miserable), I am selfish.  I always get my needs met.  But here’s the trick:  it is because I take care of myself that I am able to be a good mother.

For so long I tried not to be selfish.  And a few months ago, I finally realized trying not to be selfish (trying not to be or do anything) is a waste of time and energy.  And, I’m coming to see that I’ve spent just as many years – wasted just as much energy – trying not to be like my mother.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I intend to imitate my mother’s mothering.  But I am going to once again put up the white flag and concede that I am like my mother.  I get angry.  Really angry sometimes.  BUT, my selfishness serves me and my family well.  I selfishly get the support I need when I’m feeling really mad.  I have assembled a fantastic support team.  Not to mention my regular babysitters!  And for these luxuries/necessities, I am so grateful.

And as I embrace the idea that I am like my mom, I can acknowledge some of her charms.  I have been so stuck in not being like my mom, that I have been unable to see these similarities which are, in fact, pretty great.  My mom was a force of nature.  If she wanted it, she got it.  My parents didn’t have much disposable income, but my mom prioritized a yearly vacation and somehow we always took a summer vacation.  My mom dreamed of a Chevy Caprice wagon (this was her equivalent to a Porsche) and somehow on their strict budget, she proudly drove around town in that beautiful monster of a car.  My mom’s dream was for her four daughters to attend and love their college experiences.  Somehow she and my dad financed four undergraduate degrees.  She could accomplish anything that she put her mind to.  See?  I am like my mother!

And my mom was funny.  And she, like me, found herself quite hilarious.  When annoyed, she would sing, “I am your singing telegram” (from the movie Clue) and then shoot her imaginary finger gun at the offender and crack up laughing.  And her audience couldn’t help but laugh with her.

And then of course there is her wisdom in selecting a partner.  Despite her emotional ups and downs, my dad’s love for my mom never wavered.  He loved her ’til she drew her last breath.  And he adores my sisters and me.  He treasures his grandchildren.  Kinda like my husband, huh?  Rob’s love for me and the girls is boundless and unconditional.  He’d cut off an arm for any one of us.

My mom tried really hard.  She just didn’t have enough in her reserves to kindly and firmly parent a wicked incredibly head strong daughter.  (And now, as the mother of a wicked incredibly head strong daughter, I understand first hand just how impossibly difficult it can feel sometimes.)  But my mom did the best she could.  She came back time and time again to try a new.  She wanted to connect with me.  We didn’t work it out while she was still alive, but we’re making good progress from afar.

If Arlene Rose (Tracy*) Barsamian hadn’t been my mother, I wouldn’t be nearly as strong or resilient or as funny.  And if like her, I weren’t such a good judge of character, I wouldn’t have built this blessed little life with my own family that I love so much.  I wouldn’t be surrounded by so many amazing friends – and of course, my rock star little sisters.

And so, indeed, I am like my mother.

*My mom’s maiden name was Tracy (ha!!).

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Responses

  1. I love this!! You are so wise and strong and insightful.


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