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  • I was living in Boston and my mother came to visit. Since I had left Iowa, she liked to come check on me, sometimes with my father and sometimes alone.

    I introduced her to one of my male friends. He was a friend, not a boyfriend. I always got along better with men then women, finding annoyance with gossiping and petty concerns.

    My friend was very polite and he looked at my mother and said, "I'm glad to meet you!
    Now I know what Rose will look like when she is old."

    My mother's mouth dropped open slightly and her eyes squinted.

    My friend realized his mistake.
    "I mean ....," he stammered.

    "Well!" my mom exclaims.

    My friend stammers further,
    "I mean ......you're pretty."

    But it was too late.
    He had said the word - "old."
    She was in her forties.

    My mother never saw herself as "old" - ever. She was the prettiest of three girls and her father's favorite (by her telling). I have a photo of her with short-shorts and a halter top propped up in a model's pose on the hood of my father's hot rod.

    This is not a woman who ever gets "old."

    I had asked mom, "You wore short-shorts and a halter top back then mom?"

    She had smirked at me, "You kids think you've invented everything, nothing is new."
  • Further, what my friend could not know, is my mother never liked to be compared to me.

    When I was in my first year of college we had gone shopping together for a party dress for me. A nice mother-daughter outing. At one store the clerk said, "You're mother and daughter?" I said, "Yes." The clerk said, "I can tell because you look so much alike."

    My mother's response shocked me as she exclaimed, "We don't look anything alike!"

    The clerk had clearly insulted her.

    I felt a pain in the pit of my stomach. What had caused such a reaction? I imagine I'm still trying to figure it out to this day.

    I was the only girl and middle child. My older brother had dark hair and brown eyes, just like my father. My younger brother had blond hair and blue eyes, just like my mother, and he was clearly her favorite. Me? I had light brown hair and green eyes. If you look closely at my eyes you see they are actually hazel. My father's brown lies underneath with my mother's blue-gray sprinkled on top and the two combining into a pool of green.

    I have big eyes like my mother -my one feature most noted by others. But then the high forehead and round face like my paternal grandmother. My nose, rounded and turned up slightly, favors my mother's family. But then my chin and mouth looks more like my father's, thin and small not full like hers.

    I guess I am truly a middle child. I never thought I was ugly. Did my mom think so? Was it the features of my father she disdained so in me? If so, why? They were married 54 years. Or was it she considered me competition to her beauty? Like she did with her sisters. She was a beauty but when aging did hit I imagine it hit her hard.

    I was never a beauty and my looks were never a priority. I had other goals - traveling, religion, education. Maybe her beauty was the thing she felt accomplished at.

    Still, ... her comment bothered me. It felt like she was almost disowning me.
  • People often tell me my son looks like me, not realizing he is adopted.

    I just say, "Thank you."

    It pleases me.
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