Column, Looking Back

Turning into our parents

By Mary Ellen Shaw

At some point in our lives we seem to turn into our parents.I guess it’s inevitable as we grew up following their instructions.

I thought of my father when someone commented to me that I mow the lawn in a different direction each time. Back in my youth the task of mowing the lawn was one that helped me earn my allowance. My father used to tell me to mow in a square. In fact he wanted me to form that square by starting in the opposite direction each time that I mowed. He thought this would improve the growth of the grass. As I aged and realized that a nice looking lawn enhances your property I researched the best way to mow. It seems that my father was on to something because experts say that varying the mowing pattern allows the blades of grass to grow straighter and healthier.

My mother’s words of wisdom relate to inside the home. We never had a dishwasher so the dishes went into a dish rack on the side of the sink. Her logic was to wipe the dishes right away as leaving them in the rack to dry didn’t usually work well. New dishes got added and by doing that some of those that were already dry managed to get wet once again. It was a vicious cycle! There is still no dishwasher in my family home so, just like the old days, the dishes are put in the rack to dry. I get preoccupied with other things and don’t remove the dishes when they are dry. More dishes are added later. I think of my mother’s logic every time I grab a dish towel to wipe the dishes that got wet while adding more. Maybe I will smarten up eventually and put away the first group of dishes when they are dry!

Clutter on top of the dining room table was something that drove my mother crazy. She wanted it clear except for the floral arrangement that was nicely placed on a doily that she had crocheted. If it had been allowed I would probably have had all kinds of “stuff” on top of that table. But as soon as I put something down she would nicely tell me to put it where it belongs! I have that same doily on our table now. Seasonal silk flower arrangements are placed on it. If I put a bag down on the table it doesn’t remain there for long. I can hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me that it doesn’t belong there. I quickly put the contents of the bag where they do belong!

I remember shopping with my mother in her senior years and it seemed to take her forever to put the money in her wallet after making a purchase. Organized person that she was, the dollar bills were arranged in ascending order and not intermingled. I think the people behind her wished that she would just stuff them in her wallet and do her organizing at home. I also like my dollar bills in order and find myself arranging them that way before I leave a cash register. So have mercy on us “seniors” as old habits are hard to break. We just aren’t as quick doing things as we used to be.

Making the bed right after getting out of it is another way I have turned into my mother. It is nice to walk into the bedroom after breakfast and see a neat bed. It would be equally nice if I could walk into the kitchen when I go back downstairs and see nothing in the dish rack! I am working on that accomplishment!

Sitting in the yard and watching birds, squirrels and chipmunks can be very entertaining. Did I think that 70+ years ago? Absolutely not! Apparently my father did because he would take the paper outside, sit in a lawn chair and wait for the show to begin. I now have a chair near our bird feeders and I bring my book (with paper pages, of course) out to read. I watch my “little friends” as they entertain me with their antics. There are bird houses nearby and in the summer I watch my feathered friends choose materials for nests and later feed their offspring. This connection to nature is about as relaxing as it gets.

Odds are that you will turn into your parents in some form. Along the way you will come to understand why they acted as they did. It just takes awhile…sometimes a long while!

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