By Sarah Herlong
So my mother loves my writing. What’s new, right? She really likes it because it’s about her. That’s right, I write about my mother. I write about her struggles with mental illness and physical decline. She likes this. But what she really enjoys is that I wrote an entire comedy routine about her. I only have this hilarious information because I live with her.
My parents had been very strict and very religious parents to us kids. When I first moved back home this was a problem. I scoured her old books to see where they came up with their parenting styles and convictions. I grabbed her journals to see just who was she at this time. But they weren’t personal journals, simply spiritual writings. It gave me insight into what she believed, which I already knew, but not who she was as a person. I then found a book of hers on anxiety. Not only had she underlined passages pertinent to her, she also filled in the little scoring sheets determining how anxious she was. She was very anxious. Something I never knew about her. Something I actually had in common with her. It was the next best thing to a journal from that time period.
Now I’ve discarded my wish to know my mother of the past, I want to know her now in the present. The person she has become. Frankly what I found was amusing. This is what gave birth to the comedy routine. The routine was initially just stories I would tell my siblings, something to enlighten them that she wasn’t the strict person she used to be. Now I’m actually starting to really like my mother, which is different from loving your mother.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written stories about relatives. The night before my grandmother died, I sat at the computer and wrote down every story I could remember about her. Now years later people still ask to read it because it brings her to life again if only for a few minutes. Now I’m doing it before my mom dies, that way she gets to enjoy it too.
My mother was there for me when no one was, and I’m trying to do the same for her now. What I get for my taking care of her is that I know her from a different perspective. We’re much closer because she is learning about me too. Sometimes when she goes to bed she says, “You know, I really like you Sarah Anne.” Which of course is different than loving your daughter.