My 11 year old has a theory about motherhood.
“Whatever you’re mom is like, you become the opposite,” she declared. She’s a girl who likes a declaration. Especially at bedtime when she should stop declaring and start sleeping.
“Really?” I said. “Always the opposite?”
“Yup. Like your mom is messy. You are really neat. So I’ll be messy when I’m an adult and then you can come and clean my house.”
“I’m really looking forward to that,” I said.
After I finally got the girl who loves declarations to actually close her eyes, I thought about my mother. My daughter was right. My mom is a bit messy – prone to not noticing silly things like coffee stains on counters and cabinet doors that get left open all night long.
And when I was growing up, she used to have this plastic bag dryer sitting on her counter. She probably still has it. It looks like this:
Except my mom had like 25 bags hanging off this thing and it looked crazy. The idea is eco-friendly. You wash out your plastic bags. And then dry them on these sticks.
But I was mostly focused on the idea that it looked insane sitting on our countertop, with all those plastic bags hanging off it. And I had my high school friends over. I begged, “Mom, could you please put that thing away before kids hear about it at school?!”
Anyway, fast forward many years and the other night my 9 year daughter was trying to find a plastic bag for part of her lunch.
“All these plastic bags have been used before. I want a new one,” she said.
“Those bags are fine. I cleaned them out. More or less. They might have a few potato chips crumbs but what’s the difference if you’re putting potato chips back in them?”
My daughter looked at me like I had gone mad.
“I really need a new bag.”
“Plastic isn’t good for the earth my dear,” I said. Which she knows. Because when I forget my reusable bags at the grocery store, I refuse the plastic ones and literally put all my groceries back in the cart with no bags like some kind of animal that doesn’t understand civilized society.
“I really want a new plastic bag,” my daughter pressed.
“Oh fine. Here’s a new one for your chips. But you’re reusing that one tomorrow!!”
But of course she can’t hear me because she’s already entranced in another Musical.ly on her iTouch. This Musical.ly must involve chips.
And that’s when I actually thought to myself, “I could really use one of those countertop bag dryer things my mom had.”
Yup. It came full circle.
Of course, I won’t ever get one. I don’t need something practical junking up my clean countertops.
But I realized that as my teenage self was rolling my eyes at my mother’s crazy countertop bag dryer thingy, I was actually learning about the environment. And the little things each of us can do to help protect a world we really depend on. And it apparently rubbed off on me.
Because there I was so many years later, reusing plastic sandwich bags, while my own daughter looked at me in disbelief.
So maybe we do end up like our moms. Or maybe we don’t.
Or maybe we end up somewhere in between – a creative combination of their passions, their flaws, their quirks and their awesomeness.