Mothering Daughter

Describe the world you come from.

“So you want to go to med school. Is it for the money or to appease your parents?” Neither, because money isn’t worth the sacrifice of dealing with insanity and I have only one parent, who cannot be appeased by my attending med school. This was the answer I couldn’t vocalize to my counselor when I went to request a letter of recommendation. I didn’t want to be registered as the precocious child with a cynical outlook or the pitiful, unofficial head-of-the-household who has to cope with a manic-depressive mother. So I smile wryly, then slide her the ribbon-wrapped KitKat bar and a thank-you letter before heading out.

Of course, my counselor meant no harm with the joke, but I could never return those jokes with a frivolous comment, because I cannot think of one good enough to diminish the weight of my reality. Just like my response, my reason for pursuing a profession in the medical field, specifically in psychiatrics, is heavy and dry: I need to see my mother as a patient and a human being in need of my help, not as someone who should have been my caretaker. It was the day of my mom’s psychotherapy session, so I left school early to give her a ride. On our way back home, she gently took my right hand with both of hers and asked...

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