Like Mother, Like Daughter

My mother and I are so different.

And so much alike.

I come from a long line of over thinkers. We’re good at it. My mother, Martha,  is the current world champion. I hope to inherit that title after she shuffles off her mortal coil. 30 years from now. She’s nearly 83. I think she can make it.

Anyway, my mother lives in fear of inadvertently hurting someone’s feelings.

She called me a few days ago after having a conversation with my daughter in law, Lauren, on the phone.

Mom: Shell, I feel so bad. I know Lauren is on a trip right now, but I feel like I should call her.

Me: What happened?

Mom: Well, I texted her earlier about something and she responded. I accidentally called her and told her I didn’t mean to call her. We talked for a few minutes.

Me: And?

Mom: I told her I didn’t mean to call her. That sounds so mean and harsh.

Me: Didn’t you talk to her anyway? Was it a nice conversation?

Mom: Yeah. Still, I did say that didn’t mean to call her.

Me: I promise mom, Lauren understands butt dials. She wasn’t offended or hurt.

Mom: But I didn’t call her with my butt.



Me: It’s still okay. I swear.

She worried about that for hours before calling me. Hours. I called Randy and told him about the conversation, all the while feeling grateful that while I definitely had my issues, at least I didn’t worry over silly things like butt dials.

Next, the printer incident happened.

The next morning, a woman I worked with, we’ll call her Karen Caruso, walked into my room and said the big printer wasn’t working. She asked if I could fix it.

I’m a programmer. I don’t handle hardware issues. I didn’t even look up. I said “You’ll have to ask (fill in network dude’s name) when he gets in. I don’t fix hardware.”

Then, someone who isn’t in IT heard the conversation, walked out into the hallway, turned the printer off and back on, fixing the printer. Which really, is the only way to fix a printer.

Circular thoughts started. “Really? You couldn’t have even looked up? How rude. You fucking know turning it off and back on would clear it up. Could you have at least tried to be helpful? Perhaps said good morning?”

I work in a very small office. It’s not easy to avoid people, but I found myself avoiding Karen Caruso. I felt my shame of being unhelpful and standoffish.

Toward the end of the day, I walked into the break room.

There was only one other person in the room. Karen Caruso. Of course.

Me: Hey…so, I wanted to apologize to you.

KC: What? For what?

Me: You asked for my help with the printer this morning and I completely blew you off.

KC: Really? I didn’t think twice about that. I mean, I should have known to turn it off and on again.

Me, fighting off the urge to agree: Okay, well, I was just worried that I seemed kind of mean this morning.

KC: You remind me of my mother.

Me: For all that is holy.

Like mother, like daughter.

I guess if I’m going to be like someone, I’ll be like Martha. Seriously, we should all be like Martha. Martha is incredible. And funny. She gave me my biggest laugh on Christmas eve.

My mother is a huge Bengals fan and if you watch football, then you’ll know that the Bengals have had a good year. I only know this because I live in Cincinnati and I can’t help but know it, but I don’t really care.

Cincinnati got blasted by winter pretty hard so our Christmas eve plans with family dwindled from 13 people down to 8.

Randy wasn’t feeling great, so he decided to stay home as well. I called my sister and asked if we could start at 4:00 instead of 5:00. The roads were shit and I didn’t want to be out too late. She was agreeable and called my mother to let her know to come an hour early.

Mom called me a few minutes after she talked to my sister.

Mom: Okay, so we are meeting at your sister’s at 4:00 sharp.

Me: Cool, I don’t want to be out too late.

Mom: I mean, I’m going to miss the end of the Bengals game now.

Me: Oh, bummer.

Mom: It’s kind of a big deal.

Me: Well, I am glad you put the safety of your daughter and grandson over your sporting event.

Mom: I guess we can call this an extra Christmas present for you.

Me: You’re sorry you had kids right now, aren’t you?

Mom: A little.

Of course, while we were together, she told me a billion times that she was only kidding and that she loved me.

I know mom, I know.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday and that you laughed at least a little.






About the author


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • I’m going to bet that this wasn’t the first time she was sorry she had children! Hope the party was fun anyway. I don’t watch sports in any fashion – so did the Bengals win? Made that an additional Christmas present for her too.
    Have a Happy New Year and hope politics is at the bottom of everybody’s conversation list this coming year. Yeah, right.

    • The roads in KY were so much better than OH. My family lives in Taylor Mill and I live in Delhi. Night and day. I mean, they were still shit, but you could at least see road.

    • I’m sorry she’s gone. I can’t fathom it, I just can’t and I know I’m going to have to. Or at least I hope so. If I die before my mom that would break her heart. So, I need to stay here and see her off when she’s ready. I just don’t want it to ever ever happen.

  • Is Karen related to Robinson? Oh wait, that’s Crusoe not Caruso. Still might be wise to avoid the subject of cannibalism around her, just in case. Or not, your call. I once had to fix a printer by taking it apart to remove a massive paper jam, and I worked in the warehouse, not the office. We couldn’t pull any orders until they could print them, and I’m an OK mechanic, so I gave it a shot. I think there was something wrong with the paper they loaded it with, like a bunch of it was stuck together at the corner. After I put it back together, we did have to turn it off and on a couple of times…
    At least the Bengals won.

    • Haha..I probably won’t bring up cannibalism at work because it would just add to my general weirdness. I had someone ask me for something today that has NOTHING to do with my job (office supplies) and they said “Please don’t hate me for asking.” So I said, “I don’t hate you for asking for push pins, I hate you for all the times you fuck up the printers.” And he laughed and we were fine. At least that is what I tell myself.

  • Your mother made me laugh out loud twice. Admittedly the first time was accidental, but “I didn’t call her with my butt” was pretty damn funny.
    I’m also glad y’all are okay. We ended up having to cancel Christmas entirely because of the weather. Technically we just postponed it and will be getting together on January 1st, but I love saying we cancelled it because of Alan Rickman saying, “Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.” Anyway I’m glad you were able to get together with your family and no feelings were really hurt.

  • I love everything about this post. I too worry that perhaps I was abrupt or hurt someone’s feeling. Then eventually I bring it up and they have zero idea what I’m talking about.

  • On the topic of printers…”fixing” printers has the greatest effort-to-reputation ratio of any office task. I’ve trained my peeps that under no circumstances are they to change the toner cartridges themselves, even though it’s a task I literally would feel comfortable teaching a four-year-old to do. But they believe it’s a specialized ritual permanently enshrined within the sacred sphere of my expertise. Or they think I’m just the anal bitch who pathetically hoards a simple task for clout. I’m fine with it either way. Happy 2023!

By Michelle