How Did I Become My Mother?
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How Did I Become My Mother?

Four Jewish Atlanta women share how they took on the same characteristics of their mothers, despite their best efforts to avoid repeating the pattern.

Jewish Atlantans, like others, find they repeat behaviors of their moms.
Jewish Atlantans, like others, find they repeat behaviors of their moms.

Many women are unavoidably destined to become their mothers at some point in their lives, and frequently they do all in their power not to become her. The AJT asked a few Jewish Atlantans at what point in their lives they became their mothers.

Whether through common traits or inherited behaviors, repeated phrases or facial expressions, those interviewed said they may complain about turning into their mothers but accept and acknowledge that they, in some ways, repeat the pattern.

As much as they appreciate their mothers for shaping their lives while sacrificing their own, as children they may have sworn to raise their own children differently. Little did they know the gene pool for becoming Mom was more dominant than recessive.

A young Sheryl Arno with her mother about 50 years ago.

Sheryl Arno, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta, said that like her mother, she, too, does not have a filter when she speaks. “Sometimes my kids will look at me and say, ‘Stop it Gammi!’ Once I get over the hurt, we all laugh.”

Arno recalls how her mother’s actions align with her own behavior. “We tell stories of my mom screaming at sporting events. She understood sports better than most men. … We all quivered when we heard her. Now when I cheer my kids on, they panic!”

Genetics are unavoidable. But while alarming, some of a mother’s traits are also cherished and desired, including wisdom, experience and kindness, according to those interviewed for this story.

Arno, for instance, takes pride in her capacity to be the family connector, the one who gathers everyone around Jewish holidays and friendly gatherings. Arno admits that while she tries to fight her fate, she finally caved into becoming her mother when her hair turned gray about 10 years ago.

The AJT wanted to hear more funny anecdotes from women that cringed when they first discovered the imminent similarities they shared with their mothers, so we turned to audiologist Jolie Fainberg who laughs about how she has adopted a particular behavior of her mom’s. “One trait that I inherited that is ridiculous is the habit of wiping off the top of a jar or bottle before putting the lid back on. It’s just automatic. My mother did that all the time.”

Jolie Fainberg, an audiologist, said like her mother, she wipes the top of jars and bottles before replacing the lid.

Tara Goldstein shared a humorous memory from a recent family simcha. “Last year at my son’s bar mitzvah, I yelled something silly like ‘Dance Floor Everyone!’ and the words felt awkward coming out of my mouth. But I was having too much fun to care.” It was at the moment that it hit her. “My brother whispered in my ear that it was almost as bad as when Mom yelled ‘Let Us Party!’ We used to laugh at how in the moment my mom that was exactly … My point was made and sentiments expressed, but it definitely felt cheesy yet familiar.”

Vanda Teixeira from Vanda House and Café I Am said her children give her questioning looks just like she gave her mother.

Vanda Teixeira from The VANDA HOUSE and Café I Am, said that she is the epitome of her mother. She used to shout in her head that she will never be like her mother. “I would have this look of shaking my head and ask her, ‘Can you not see that you are wearing three pairs of reading glasses on your head?’”

Teixeira explained that she didn’t realize how much she became her mother, “…until I see that same look on my children’s face and of course you know what they are thinking. I used to be that person.”

Despite efforts not to become Mom, Teixeira admits she is proud of many longtime and logical behaviors and life lessons she gained from her mother. They include not relying on anyone but yourself. This has helped her in her business life, she said.

Teixeira also attests to putting her lipstick on without a mirror just as her mother did.

In essence, there really is no escaping the genes, she said. Better to just accept. Teixiera adds that she giggles at most of the behaviors as she catches herself in the act of being her mother. “It is funny and wonderful how the DNA simply overrides us all. It is really a wonder to appreciate.” ì

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