A Letter To The Mother Who Wasn’t There

Flickr/ Franca Gimenez
Flickr/ Franca Gimenez

When I was eighteen, I became all too aware of the skewed, far-too indulgent details of my mother’s life. The specifics were, and still are, complicated and construed depending on whom you speak to and whose side I suppose you take. Though nonetheless, sides and stories aside, the fact of the matter is that my mother, the woman who was supposed to love me always and unconditionally, couldn’t seem to do that when I needed her to.

I’d be lying to say that I didn’t try. I tried in all aspects of my mind to forgive and forget. I attempted to move on and cue her into the ever-changing developments of my young adult life—calling her from my college dorm room with boyfriend troubles, spending a little extra money on Christmas presents to prove to both her and myself that, just maybe, I really was putting in some sort of effort. Some days I thought that we could make it. Perhaps if I just tried a little bit harder on my end, I could make up for where her effort seemingly appeared to lack.

Though eventually, like all strained relationships, I hit a stand still. Perhaps even a fork, if you will. I was exhausted and angry; though most of all, I was hurt. The things she’d done, despite even the good days we had, overshadowed nearly every encounter that the two of us had. What it came down to was the fact that I just couldn’t put any of it behind me. I held a grudge. I hated her for the way she both had and continued to make me feel. I felt betrayed by the woman who, in all reality, I owed my life to, and that fact alone left me confused every day. Did I feel obligated to love her, despite her selfish decisions, or did I actually and just couldn’t see it? Eventually, I let those feelings get the better of me.

And perhaps that was my fault then, for not being able to be the bigger person. It was my decision not to pursue any sort of further relationship with my mother. In that aspect, I have myself to blame. Though nonetheless, this was also the point where I realized that for most of my life, I hadn’t really had a mother. I’d been the adult. I was the mature one of the two of us, and the one who, when it really came down to it, was holding myself up. I couldn’t go to her in the ways that I wanted or, really that I needed to in some circumstances. It was the overwhelming fork in the road screaming for me to make up my mind. I either needed to search for some sort of breakthrough, or I needed to give up.

Ultimately, I chose to give up.

Some days—actually, most days—I find myself envious of the girls with great mothers; the moms who take their daughters shopping or out for lunch and spa days, the ones who they can gossip and joke around with because, well, they’re more than just their moms. More than anything, there are still days where I wish I had that, or even ever had that. I wish I had those memories, that constant support, or just that unconditional best friend that, despite whatever happens, is genetically programmed to always love you.

And I know, even before people begin to tell me, that there will come a day where I’ll consider reconciling with her. I’m sure I’ll want to call her on the day I get engaged, overwhelmed with excitement and giddiness, desperate to share that sort of enthusiasm the way you’re supposed to with your mother. On my wedding day, I know that I’ll probably need her, because really, every bride does. And later down the road, when I have my own kids to raise and take care of, I’m sure I’ll want her in their lives in some aspect. Everyone tells me I’ll hit that point where, above all else, I need my mother. And on that day, perhaps I’ll feel differently that I did then, or than I continue to feel now.

And this isn’t to say that my mother is an awful person, or that I lived a miserable childhood, because I think it’s important to acknowledge that I didn’t. I may not have grown up with the most nurturing or selfless mother, but there were and still are, kids growing up far less fortunately than I did. Though this doesn’t stop me from rethinking how I know I’ll be when and if I ever hit that moment of actually wanting to reconcile.

Even now, I can confidently say that by that point, I won’t be like her. I have no desire to turn out like the woman that my mother was to me. I’ll be better. I’ll be absolutely everything to my own kids that I felt she never was to me. And I’m sure that just knowing I could be like that own my own will be enough. That will have meant that I didn’t just choose to walk away from the toxin of that relationship, but more so that I rose against it. I’ll no longer feel responsible or degraded, but instead okay. Perhaps even better than just okay. TC mark

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