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It happens - we become our moms



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Sacramento therapist Sandra Reishus clearly knows what motivates us.

"I met a lady at the airport the other day," she says. "We started talking, and I told her the name of my book. And she said, 'After going home for the holidays and spending two weeks with my mother, I'll need to go buy your book.' "

OAS_AD('Button20'); Amen, sister.

"Oh, No! I've Become My Mother" (McGraw-Hill, $14.95, 192 pages) is Reishus' first book, a how-to guide for dealing with the behavioral gifts handed down by moms everywhere - the glitches and quirks and assorted personality disorders. Without intervention, she says, they'll keep popping up in our lives through the decades, regardless of whether the moms in question are still around.

The words of the title alone have been known to strike fear in the hearts of women everywhere.

We can all relate, which is exactly why NBC's "Today" show has invited Reishus to New York after the holidays for a Wednesday appearance.

One way or another, our mothers are with us forever, either haunting us or blessing us with the jillions of unspoken messages we've learned from them. They are fated to be part of our lives, always.

It's both a comfort and a curse.

"It's such an important issue in women's lives, dealing with the female who raised you," says Reishus. 62. "People need to understand mothers' impact on women's lives and what to do with that."

Because sooner or later, ladies, it will happen. You'll glance up in the mirror at yourself, and there she is, gazing back. Wearing the same expression, maybe. Or the same hairstyle. Or the same kind of outfit.

Or you'll hear her words coming out of your mouth. The same words you've heard all your life, the same tone and inflection.

Uh-huh. Live with it. You may as well make your peace with her, because there's no escaping the inevitable.

Besides, you've already been hearing her words in your head all your life.

"It's scary," Reishus says. "But you don't have to be exactly like her."

That's a relief: You don't have to repeat her life through the lessons she imprinted on your subconsciousness - what Reishus calls "the mom gene," all the messages you've learned from your mother, intentionally or otherwise.

Oh, and if you're purposely trying to do the opposite in life of what your mother did? You're still tethered firmly to the mom gene, only you're trying to pretend you're not by focusing on the opposite side of the same behavioral coin.

"It's interesting," Reishus says. "Women tell me, 'I'm nothing like my mother.' And I think, 'Give me 15 minutes to ask questions.' "

Reishus, it should be noted, describes herself as a clinical sexologist. Her midtown Sacramento practice deals with issues ranging from low desire to sexual addiction. Much of what she discusses in her book, not surprisingly, has to do with relationships and sex.

"We pick up messages from our mothers about sexuality," she says, "from the way she dresses, the way she interacts with men. Does she take care of her body? Does she exercise and eat right or does she abuse her body in some way?

"We have to sort through all that. But a lot of women don't want to think about it."

No kidding. Because she's talking about their mothers. Eww.

Reishus' point, of course, is that we have to get over our moms - if not for our own sake, then for the sake of our daughters.

"It's not an easy process," she says. "You have to separate from your mother. She's just a person. Mom is really big when you're little, but when you're big, she's just a person.

"I still hear that mom voice in my head, too, sometimes. But by now, I can pretty instinctively go, 'Hi, Mom,' and move on. It's something to work on."

About the writer: Anita Creamer's column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays in Scene. Reach her at (916) 321-1136 or acreamer@sacbee.com. Back columns: www.sacbee.com/creamer. - Get the whole story every day - SUBSCRIBE NOW! 

To see more of the Sacramento Bee, or to subscribe, go to http://www.sacbee.com Copyright 2004 Sacramento Bee. All Rights Reserved.

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