Turning into my mother

Finley and I on the swings, 2013. No, I’m not that thin anymore, this was during my crazy Weight Watchers kick. Credit: Meghan Wright.

I have these moments every once in awhile when I’ll catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or I’ll notice a gesture or turn of phrase that reminds me so much of my mom. The other day I was in an airport coming home from a work trip and after I finished my meal, I took out lipstick and just started to put it on. Putting lipstick on at the table in a restaurant is a classic Cass Gwilliam move. She used to do it all the time and it drove me nuts as a teenager. I would always ask her why she didn’t just go to the bathroom and she’d say, “I don’t have to go to the bathroom, I just need more lipstick”. Efficient and true. So I was sitting in the airport lounge exhausted and not wanting to haul all my stuff into the bathroom and instinctively just took out my lipstick and started to put more on. And then I started to laugh a bit to myself thinking about this funny memory of my mom.

Finley age 7 months, summer 2012. I was so tired and so happy in this picture. Credit: Meghan Wright

It’s so odd to be about the age she was when I remember her as a teenager most vividly. She was so funny and fun, so lively, so smart. I don’t think she thought of herself as those things. But she was. She was loving and kind, beautiful and generous. I try very hard to bring those parts of her out in me: to channel her generosity; to remember to use a coaster when I’m somewhere that requires the use of one; and, to write thank you notes by hand and put them in the mail when appropriate.

She was so classy, that’s the word that comes to mind for me when I think about her style, her presence. Except when she put her lipstick on at the table, that was just embarrassing to a teenager who was convinced that everyone was staring at them and judging. Of course, my mom didn’t say it then, but no one was watching because no one cares. Everyone is so involved in their own stuff to be bothered. I’m sure my girls will remember idiosyncratic things about me as well, not sure what those will be. My hope is that they will remember me as fun, funny and smart. And also generous. And also classy. Just like my mom. xo Janet

Published by Janet Gwilliam-Wright

Feminist and queer. Professional teller of truths. Slayer of personal demons.

2 thoughts on “Turning into my mother

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