Growing up I was constantly compared to my Father. I looked just like his childhood photos and we had many of the same habits. I was a tom boy who climbed trees and wanted to build things with my hands after watching my Dad work around the house fixing things or in his shop in the garage refinishing furniture. I was the one sitting behind him, handing him the tools. It was a family joke that I was only there to knock him off the ladder if he managed to electrocute himself. During the summers I fished with my Granddad and watched as he built things from seemingly nothing. One summer he built his own rock tumbler so that we could compare collections out of Metamucil jars and car parts (I wanted to be a paleontologist at the time.).
My Father was the quiet one like me who read every afternoon. We talked books and I tore through his collection. When I started writing poetry my mother pulled out one of the few remaining poems that he had written for her, for me it was conformation, "See? I was genetically made to do this!"
I was painfully shy growing up and could not match the calm confidence my mother always seemed to extrude. No was never an option for her. She is someone who gets things done, calmly and with the occasional sarcastic comment. Both of my parents are snarky fighters, my idea of a fight between my parents has always been a tennis match of sarcastic comments while me and my sister laugh softly in the background.
I was always compared to my Father growing up. Yet once I started working I was compared to my Mother. Many of the people I worked with knew her well and thought I was just like her, they called me her "mini me". Honestly, I never saw it. Then suddenly, I was at work last week and glanced in a mirror and my mother was staring back for an instant.
My mother had it rough while I was growing up, a kidnapping, a severe car accident that left her wheelchair bound for a year. Yet she never stopped. She kept working and moved higher and higher. Recently she has started exercising and teaching classes at a local college. She has embraced every change that came her way, whether she wanted it to happen or not and improved her life in the process. She is the strongest person I know.
My Father and I were the introverts of the family, unlike my sister and mom, who were extroverts and always on the go, in meetings or holding parties, they can talk to anyone. It is a skill I have struggled to learn and still fight with occasionally. While my Father and I were happy to be in the background, my Mother and sister were flames meant to draw people toward them.
As my life continues to go haywire around me, I hope I can pull some of that quiet confidence and light that my mother always seems to have from her side of my genetics.