I’m turning into my mother.
It hits me as I lean over the bath and sprinkle talc between damp toes. A shiver of dread accompanies the realisation.
‘I’m going upstairs to wash my feet,’ she’d say, and then would return ten minutes later, lipstick refreshed, hair smoothed into place, and a dab of Penhaligon’s Bluebell behind the ears.
I know each step of the routine. Lolled on the rug in her dressing room dozens of times, pretending not to watch while all the time taking in each intricate gesture and the order in which they’re performed. The side to side lip movement to distribute colour. Not too vigorous, just enough. Then blot.
And here I am, carrying out the same rituals, in the same order, to collect my thoughts and recalibrate before day slides into evening.
You’ll be home soon, crackling with excitement about your trip, people met, sights seen. And you’ll inquire kindly, ‘How was your week?’
And I’ll wither inside and squeeze out, ‘Fine, thanks,’ when what I really want to say is, ‘I’ve turned into my bloody mother.’
As she looks back at me from the oval mirror, the one that always sat on her dressing table, heaviness pulls like emotional gravity.
And I scruff up my hair and wipe my mouth clean. Pull on jeans and flip-flops.
I am not my mother. I am me.
Vicky Newham © 2015