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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

I am slowly becoming my mother… but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN
Ruby Cobourn
From left, Ruby Cobourn smiles at the dinner table with her mother on June 22 in Monterosso, Italy. They are a week into their European excursion together.

It started happening about a year ago. 

I caught myself singing along to the “Grease” soundtrack in the tiny kitchen of my apartment as I assembled a grilled cheese for lunch. I stopped and looked down at my Doc Martens and Levi’s. I glanced at my posters on the wall, each one illustrated with a 70s band or film. Somehow, I keep letting it happen.

I am becoming my mother.

I notice it every day. She sneaks her way into my fashion sense, the music I listen to – even my gestures and the cadence of my voice.

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“I used to wear that exact outfit when I was your age,” she’ll say. 

Any music I play near her is met with “This song reminds me of being exactly 19 years old.”

How is it possible for me to become an exact copy of my mother, considering how differently our lives have played out? 

At 19, she had just returned to the United States after spending high school in Australia. She was living in Atlanta with her boyfriend and working at Discover Card. I, jobless, am a Santa Barbara resident with many roommates and zero idea what I want to do in the future. Most of my life, I have assumed that my circumstances have shaped me into the person I am today.

Ruby Cobourn is being held by her mom while they enjoy their time together at the local pumpkin patch in Jasper, Georgia on Oct. 25. (courtesy of Ruby Cobourn )

In recent years, however, I have realized that in between the handful of life-changing moments – those that differ between me and my mother – are a million other, smaller moments that, over time, make a great impact. Maybe the person I have become has something to do with the person I look to daily for guidance.

She and I clashed when I was younger, as teenage girls and mothers do. As I have grown up, though, I can confidently say that this is my favorite part of our relationship thus far. Not because we rarely fight, or because she can no longer nag me about turning in my homework – although both of those things are a bonus. Rather, it is that, in becoming more like my mom everyday, I see her in a different light. A brighter one. I look at myself and realize that I am my mother when she was 19 years old. I see her before she knew I would exist, and her world was consumed merely with boys, clothes, and college. I see her before she knew the profound gratitude and humility of being a mother. I see before she knew what it was like to know someone better than they know themselves. 

I remember my mom telling me once, although I can’t recall when, that she was sorry. She told me in passing that she regretted working so much throughout my childhood. Her concern surprised me. Her business trips and two-hour commute into the city everyday did allow me to find some independence as a child, I’ll admit. But the best part was when she came back home, because I always knew she would. She taught me that being a mom doesn’t require you to lose yourself in the role, because the majority of a mother’s lasting influence on her children’s lives can be credited to how she lives her own. 

Now, when I hear the inner-voice in my head encourage me to follow my ambition, I know that it isn’t me talking. It’s my mom.

From left, Shannon Cobourn appreciates the lakeside view during a trip to her father’s house. Ruby Cobourn basks in the sunny weather of Bainbridge Island, Washington on August 27. (Courtesy of Ruby Cobourn )

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