Yesterday, while filling the tub for a nice bath, I noticed scum caked in between the tiles that line the walls surrounding my tub. Reflecting on how long it’d been since I’d given the toilet a nice scrub (just a week ago, I swear!), I started to splash some water from the tub onto the walls, and with my fingers, began to dig and pry the scum away.

Pretty soon, I was scraping off dried pink Dove soap and blue Head & Shoulders shampoo bits off the tub with my fingernails. Five minutes later, instead of soaking in a lavendar and chamomile infused soup of relaxation, I was in full Toilet Cleaning mode, replete with gloves, Scotch Brite sponge and Kaboom! Shower, Tub and Tile Cleaner, rubbing and scrubbing. By the time I was done, I had time only for a quick shower (also because I didn’t want to use too much water since I’d used the water that was supposed to be for my bath, for the spur-of-the-moment, slightly insane, latrine detail).

This was around 11 o’clock last night.

The results are in, dear friends. My transformation into Mother is complete.

All of us felt this once. Yes, Every Single One of You. Or maybe you still do.

That the day you start to pick up on any of your mom’s traits, you’d kill yourself.

Aside from the impulsive cleaning and what she claims to be a genetically inherited sense of thriftiness which, to her dismay, had failed to pass on to me (which led her to conclude that I had instead inherited my dad’s ‘extravagance gene’), my mom had many other detestable traits.

Like how she’d lay on the couch and zone out at the end of the day. That used to annoy the heck out of me because I thought she was lazy and would not go out or take us anywhere. Of course later, I realised that it’s because she was just exhausted from work and all the stuff she’s had to deal with on her own with both my sis and me, with my dad always away on his bowling tours.

I also remember being embarassed by how…unrefined she was (it still shames me to say that). The day Lokes and I officially introduced our parents to each other, I spent the whole day on edge, sure that my mom and dad would find a way to humiliate me in front of my future in-laws and that I’d die of shame that very day, an almost-married girl of 28 (Here she lies, broken-hearted. Almost got hitched, but her mom farted). My dad and Lokes’ dad were old bowling friends so I was happy about that, but my mother-in-law (elegant, polished homemaker wife of relatively well-to-do tobacco sales manager) was as different from my mother (working-class government servant) as eau de toilette is from, well, toilet water.

Shockingly, they got along rather well. To this day, I still think it was all a fluke.

It’s easy to say you will never become your mother when you’ve never had her life. People can work hard to become something but what they rarely realise is that it is decidedly harder to not become something because…really, who has the energy to spend one’s life in constant avoidance and perpetual prevention?

Also, one becomes other things in the course of pursuing whatever it is one is pursuing. Things you never thought you’d become.

I may have taken on some of my mom’s more annoying traits without planning to (whether they’re really from her, only science can tell) but I will never become her. I will never be the mom she was to my sis and me, in all the good ways and bad, because I am not married to a man like my father and I am not living the way we used to live. And even if I’d managed to somehow replicate her history, I don’t think I could have emerged from the desperation and heartache that was her life, to become the strong, sturdy and financially-sound woman she’s become today.

Which is why when the day comes, that both Rae and Sky declare loudly they will never do what I do, or be like me, or become me, I will calmly nod and agree,

“Of course you won’t. Nobody’s perfect, honey,” I’ll say.

Not even The I’mperfect Mom.