Turning Into My Mom, One Room at a Time

When Abby wrote her thoughtful post about grownup houses it made me realize that I do live in a grownup house, and it is an awful lot like the house where I was raised. Upon further consideration and inspection, it hit me: for better and for worse, I am turning into my mom one room at a time.

Like most kids, I spent my formative years oscillating between the hope that I would grow up to be exactly like my parents and vowing that I would be nothing like them. My sisters always comment that the vibe and aesthetic of my house bears a strong resemblance to our childhood home. I take it as a compliment.

The good - My mom has a great eye and a phenomenal sense of flow, space and light. Those were deciding criteria for my childhood home and that's how I chose the house I share with my husband and kids (I grew up in a late 50s ranch, and now I live in an early 60s split level). When we recently acquired additional living room seating, I made mom come over to provide spiritual guidance in furniture placement. She has great timeless taste. I know that some of our readers see Scandinavian design as a trend, but to me it's the home decor equivalent of matzoh ball soup: comfortable and familiar. My woods never match and I think that's a good thing. Our upholstered furniture is all clean lines and there isn't a rolled arm in sight, just like mom's house.

I had free reign in my childhood house and now so do my kids. As a child there was no room off limits to me. Irreplaceable breakables were placed out of reach and everything else was fair game. My toys coexisted with the art and artifacts that my parents loved to collect and display. I climbed on all of the furniture, helped in the kitchen and jumped on beds (once leaving an incredible head-shaped dent in the drywall above my parents' bed).

We had tons of books housed on simple built-ins that my dad kept expanding. Today, visitors to our family room always comment on the wall of books, a very unfancy bank of six packed IKEA Billy bookcases. My twin toddlers think it is great fun to pull books off of the shelves and sit in the resulting pile, paging through whatever appeals to them. This means that the books are not organized by color, author, genre or anything at all, and I'm okay with it.

There was always music in our house. Our parents were not musicians, but all four of us girls played instruments and were encouraged to pursue our diverse musical interests. I developed an encyclopedic knowledge of our LP collection and strong musical preferences. My kids are the same way.

The not-so-good - I have a hard time keeping up with laundry. I'm fine with washing and drying but fall apart somewhere in the folding and putting away phase. I blame my mother for this and my tendency to let mail and paperwork accumulate to overwhelming proportions.

I still mistakenly believe that most spatial and storage challenges can be remedied by the addition of shelves. One of my sisters insists that mom should change her middle name to "Shelves." The need for additional shelving stems from sentimentality and a hard time getting rid of things. In a recent conversation with a professional organizer, I learned that clutter isn't always a sign of hoarding, but more a tendency to fill. I have my mother's filling tendency. Please never look in my junk drawer or under my bathroom sink, thank you.

Still, I think that my grownup house where I'm raising my family is a nice tribute to my mom, who has always done so many things the right way.

(Image: probably my dad)

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