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The tone of my voice surprised even me. Where did that raspy drawl come from? For a moment, the room became silent. Then suddenly, all three of my daughters broke into laughter.
“What?” I asked, folding my arms.
My oldest caught her breath. “You sound just like Grandma!”
“What? Grandma? Nah. No way.”
My husband joined in the fun. “Oh, yes you did!” He gave me a playful smile. “You must be turning into your mother!”
“You’re all crazy.”
The next morning, I woke to the sound of girls arguing while getting ready for school. One girl snapped out a snarky comment. The other jabbed back with sarcasm. Back and forth. Louder and louder. Finally, I’d heard enough. I threw back the covers, jumped out of bed and marched down the hall to the bathroom.
“Girls, stop! If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”
I stopped in my tracks, mildly disturbed. Images of my mom, blurting out those same words, flashed through my mind. What in the world? Without even thinking, my mother’s words had jumped out of my mouth!
As the school bus drove away, I reasoned with myself. It was just a cliché. Lots of moms say those words. It doesn’t mean anything. I’m not turning into my mom.
Within a few minutes my cell phone rang. I checked the caller ID: Junior High. Why were they calling? Instantly, three scary scenarios slipped into my mind.
Did she get hurt during PE? Maybe she’s feeling sick – what if she threw up during class? Then I remembered a recent note from school. Oh no! I hope it’s not head lice!
I took a deep breath and answered the phone.
“Mom? I forgot my lunch money.”
Whew. As I hung up the phone, I couldn’t help but wonder. Why was I such a worry-wart? Over the years, I’d received dozens of calls from my kids’ school. Why do I always worry?
Then it hit me. If there’s one thing my mom excels at, it’s worrying. Just great, I thought. Now I was worried about worrying.
I assured myself it didn’t mean a thing. All moms worry. But when I returned home from buying groceries later that day, the clues were everywhere.
I grabbed a head of lettuce from a bag and opened the crisper drawer. More proof glared back at me from inside the drawer. How had I accumulated so many leftover packets of catsup, mayo, and mustard from fast-food restaurants?
Suddenly, it wasn’t just plastic bags and packets of catsup. I found evidence all over my kitchen. I stared into my drawer full of empty containers. Cool Whip. Cottage cheese. Sour cream. Yogurt. That kitchen drawer had more plastic dishes than a Tupperware catalog.
Just then my daughter burst through the door. “Bad day?” I asked.
She exhaled and plopped down on a chair. Over the next few minutes she shared the dramatic details of life in middle school. I tried my best to encourage her.
“Thanks Mom. You give pretty good advice.”
“Junior high can be tough, but this too shall pass.” I patted her leg. “Seems like a long time ago when I told Grandma all about my problems when I was in school. She gave good advice too.”
“See, we told you,” she said, beginning to smile. “You’re just like her.”
I thought for a moment, then spoke with a familiar raspy drawl. “Well,” I said, “Maybe that’s not so bad, after all.”