My mother is extremely organized.
I tend to be less so.
She would’ve never made the mistake I made, which is that this post is a Mother’s Day post and it should’ve been posted last Tuesday, a few days before Mother’s Day, not after; but I got confused, which I do sometimes, and that’s why the post is late, which is another way we differ because my mother is never late. And I mean never.
This is the kind of mishap that has driven my mother to call me flighty, which no one has ever called her.
My mother is disciplined and straightforward.
I am less disciplined and more artsy, which is to say emotional; or as she would say, all over the place.
So I’ve held the belief we were nothing alike.
But when we both showed up wearing the same thing on a number of occasions, I began to wonder.
In addition, I’ve begun to speak as she does, which is significant because she uses words like boondocks and expressions like…
A feather in my cap
The early bird catches the worm.
I start many a sentence, when I’m talking to my kids, with “As grandma would say," and then I say things like…
I’ll eat my hat
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
They tell me I can’t do that. They tell me if I continue to use those phrases, I can’t pretend I’m not really using them.
And I've come to realize my mother and I are alike in other ways as well. We both get nervous when we travel, don’t do well in traffic and are electronically challenged. We both love coffee and hate shopping.
But here’s the thing I’ve only recently realized about how we are much more alike than I ever before thought.
My mother was an avid tennis player, and a winner too. She played for hours in the brutal New Orleans heat throughout my childhood. And when we moved to New York in 1980, she and her mixed doubles partner were ranked (by the United States Tennis Association) number one in the east.
As a little girl, she hit tennis balls with me, teaching me the game. “It doesn’t have to be the best shot. But never give up. Just get the ball over the net one more time,” she’d say. “That’s how you win.”
What she taught me was perseverance. Yes, it takes talent and dedication to craft to be a writer but what it takes even more than those things is perseverance. I read that a number of years back, and it stuck with me; because I believe it to be true. I could’ve given up a long time ago; but I didn’t.
And that determination is paying off.
As my mother would say, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree.