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Becoming My Mother: A Cautionary Tale


Save yourselves. It’s too late for me—but there’s still time for you. I’m sitting here, 19, with reading glasses perched on the bridge of my nose, a warm cup of chamomile tea in hand, and an inhibiting fear of dehydration that consumes the entirety of my being. I have reluctantly accepted the brutal truth: I have become my mother. 

I didn’t become my mother all at once; it was a steady process that went unnoticed for years… until it was too late. I have thus made it my life’s mission to preserve the fire of youth in those around me and ensure that this premature maternization doesn’t happen to you, too. 

Living my life as a 19-year-old childless mother is a fate I don’t dare wish on my worst Words With Friends nemesis. My mother’s voice rings in my head every moment of every day as I parent my friends, saying, “watch your step,” “do your homework,” and “wear layers!”. I’m too young for this. Telling your friends to “chew well” as they throw back Jell-O shots always kills the lit vibe! And yet, I have lost control. At least I still know how to use slang terminology properly. 

I pick up my phone and extend my arm slowly. 4 inches away from my face—a socially acceptable nose-to-phone distance ratio—simply doesn’t cut it anymore. My arm elongates as the last 19-year-old cells in my body—weak and losing the battle to momitis—fervently fight back. The mother in me curb stomps my 19-year-old instincts; I squint, tilt my head back, and peruse Restoration Hardware’s website with my phone light-years in front of my face. My phone-to-nose distance is now 14 inches…and steadily expanding. I text with my index finger only; I frequently take 2-second videos instead of pictures, and I actively no longer understand Twitter. My cross-body bag with my phone, lip gloss, and tampon turned into a 60-pound durable sack containing bandaids, snacks for low blood sugar, small children, a few cigarettes (for secret mommy time), and every disinfectant wipe CVS had in stock. I dress for comfort and function; one shot of tequila gets me looking at knit throws in a special kind of way, and my new favorite show is the 5:00 news. 

People don’t think I hear the things they say about me around the neighborhood…or quad...I guess. “It’s always tragic when they go too young.” “She had so much life ahead of her.” “She held up a tissue to my nose and said “blow” during my Tuesday recitation. What the actual fuck?” “She walked into my room, tucked me into bed, kissed me on my forehead, left a glass of water on my nightstand, and turned off the lights. It was 8:30 p.m., and I’ve never seen her before.”

I scoffed when I heard common folk complain about turning into their mothers. “That wouldn’t be me!” Hear me, and hear me loudly: the moment you start lathering sunscreen on your roommates face without asking, lose your glasses on your head, or even dare utter “that’s the stuff” after your first sip of black coffee in the morning…get up, take a shot, wear ONE layer on a chilly day, watch a vulgar movie without exclaiming “oh dear!”, and fight all mom urges. Good luck, youngin’s, mama’s pulling for you.