Mother’s influence inspires best traits


Editor’s Note: Views expressed in guest columns and letters to the editor reflect the views of the author, not the views of The State News.

Most of us probably have heard the phrase “You’re just like your mom/dad” before. And most of us probably have experienced that moment of panic afterward — those few fear-stricken seconds we spend combing our mind for differences, for any reason we’re absolutely not like our parents.

I’ve been there plenty of times, most commonly when I’m playing a game with my friends and they get on my case about insisting we strictly adhere to the rules.

And like any other young adult, I’m always reluctant to admit I’m anything like my mom. I think that’s probably because when we think of our parents, we tend to think only of the negative qualities.

My relationship with my mom has not always been easy. When I was growing up, it seemed like we were always fighting about something. Most of the time, it was about stupid middle-school girl stuff that I’m sure if I looked back on now I would regret. But even later, we fought our way through the days, weeks and months leading up until I left for college.

Maybe it was because it was just my mom and I for a few years after my brother left for school. But sometimes it seemed as if each day was a struggle for us to be able to coexist under the same roof.

But I guess all it took was leaving home for a while to gain perspective on our relationship and realize all those arguments mean nothing compared to what my mom means to me.

Whether or not we want to admit it, our parents are our single greatest influence on our lives, especially now, when our relationship with them has been our longest. And recently, I’ve started to realize no matter how much I try to deny I’m like my mom, there really is no other person whom I have more in common with – or whom I want to be more like.

I’m almost a mirror image of my mom in certain ways. She is obsessed with rules, she always has to be right and she could eat homemade triple chocolate cake with every meal.

And I’m getting to the point in my life – as I imagine most college students are – when we start to catch ourselves saying or doing things exactly like our parents. Whether it’s repeating a phrase they always used to say, cracking corny dad jokes or knowing the lyrics to an old song you didn’t even know you liked — how do I know the words to “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart? Our parents have instilled in us their interest and love of certain things, and because we share their genes, we are destined to love them, too.

For me, those things are my love of horror movies, Anne Tyler and John Irving books and Southern comfort food. It’s my mom’s vintage clothing that fits me now, the classic movies and music I wouldn’t know about if it weren’t for her. She’s one of the only people who will go with me to see an independent or foreign film.

And although I’m pretty sure she gave me my temper and my annoying need for perfection, she also has given me some of my best qualities, such as my good judgment and love for being in the know – which led me to pursue a journalism degree.

But it’s not just about our shared interests. People can have shared interests with their friends or significant others.

It’s the fact that I know each day I am gaining more of my mom’s zany personality – something I always was afraid of, but now embrace. I know now that all the odd, surprising traits people love about me I have because of my mom.

She encourages me to be weird, take risks, think outside the box and be a little crazy sometimes.
When she talks about her college experience at MSU, she makes me want to go out and experience the same things.

My mom has this one quote she frequently repeats to my brother and me. She says that the secret of the man who is universally interesting is that he is universally interested. And I think that is the one quote that most accurately defines my mom’s character because she is the most interesting person I’ve ever met. And because of this, I try to live my life by that quote, just like she does.

So whereas five years ago if someone were to tell me, “You’re just like your mom,” I probably would have shuddered at the thought.

Today, there is no better compliment.

What I’m saying is, although we might say we don’t want to end up like our parents, we’re soon going to find out we have a lot more in common with them than we think. In some cases, we’re going to realize they are our best friends.

Yes, it’s hard to admit this after all the years we spent in middle and high school trying to distance ourselves from our parents, vowing never to say or use the traits associated with them. But I think now is the time to re-evaluate how we see our parents.

I am now in a place where I can say I’m proud to be my mother’s daughter. And if I end up exactly like her years from now, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.

Katie Harrington is the opinion editor at The State News and a journalism senior. Reach her at

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