How many of us have done an impression of our moms? Maybe it’s a certain voice or the way her face scrunches up. Maybe it’s a hand gesture she always makes. I can imitate my mom’s big sneeze: “Ah-cho0ooo0000oooooo!” That’s a sound I can hear all the way across the grocery store.
Recently, I was listening to my new obsession, the NPR podcast “Invisibilia.” I started listening to podcasts recently, especially really funny ones or something quick/witty. To get my podcasts, I use the free app Stitcher. (Side note: My first podcast was Serial and it was amazing. I’m now listening to Planet Money. You’ll find something you like). I digress.
“Invisibilia” is all about the invisible forces that shape our world. The hosts were talking to a comedian, Maria Bamford, and her mother, Marilyn. They were interviewed separately, living in different states, and asked about how Maria’s comedy impressions impact their relationship.
You can take a minute to listen here (as long as you agree to come back): Mothers, Daughters, and Entanglement.
Okay, now that you’re back, let me tell you what I found were the best parts. First, Marilyn (the mom) is totally happy for Maria (her daughter) to make a career out of teasing her in a very public way. In fact, she embraces it. Marilyn sees this comedy for what it is, a daughter’s deep investigation of her mother and a willingness to hinge her livelihood on her mother. Talk about a compliment. Does that sound weird to you?
Okay, let me put it another way. I wrote my verrrrrrry long dissertation about mothers and daughters, and put in some personal details about my life and my mom. While I was busy working on this huuuuuuuge project, my aunt asked my mom why I wasn’t around more and why my mom seemed okay with that. Her reply? “She’s writing her entire dissertation about me.” As my mom told me this story, I knew that she GOT IT. Not everything I say or write about our relationship is flattering, but it IS authentic. And the fact that it centers around MY MOM is the highest compliment that I can give her. I have focused my career around lessons she gave me and our interactions.
The highest compliment my mother has given me is allowing me to be free. Free to say and do whatever feels right. I know she is proud of me, not because I am like her, but because I am like me.
You can listen to the entire 57 minute Invisibilia episode, “Entaglement” here.