Mother, Mother

T/w: parental relationships


Every few years or so I find myself overwhelmed with the need for a mom. I put myself out there with my mother, swallow my hurt feelings over her not caring about me or my children. And it always cycles back around to being ignored, blown off and ultimately hurt. Again. 


I get it in my head that this time could be different. She could have changed, gotten wiser and learned to experience empathy as she’s gotten older. That she sits around missing us and thinking about us and wondering how we are doing, and that the only reason she can’t so much as send us a text is…? I’m never able to finish that thought. I start convincing myself this time will be different. 


That hope. Oof. That hope suckers me every time, and every time I’m shown the same result. I end up disappointed, angry and regress into a “what’s so wrong with me that even my own fucking parents don’t love me” feeling that I know a false statement. I know it’s not me. I know it’s never been me. You just can’t make someone feel something that they are unwilling, or incapable of feeling. It isn’t a statement on my worth, it sure as shit isn’t about my children’s worth. She’d be lucky to have my brilliant, beautiful children in her life. I know this. But it still hurts, and it pisses me off that I keep going through these pulls, these wishes, this inability to just get it through my head, accept and know that this is just how things are, no matter how much I wish them different. I’ve done what I could do. I have told her how I felt, for years and years. But she’s just never been able to be my mom. It’s not all her fault. She’s lived a rough life.


It’s always been a strained, murky relationship. Not like, wholesome sitcom-mom strained, more like characters from Shameless. But there are times in my life where I could really use that mother figure. The one I read about, or see in movies. The one who cares. The one who encourages or supports. Or calls to check on the kids. What I wouldn’t give to have an argument with my mother over something silly and make up over coffee and tears. 


March will make two years since I heard from my mom. When we moved to Mexico, she wrote us off. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. Not a message returned, not a photo responded to, not a phone call, not even a birthday card for my eldest’s 18th birthday. Nothing. 


I sent a few messages before my depression and isolation took over completely and I became unable to endure any more rejections. I stopped trying. I needed her, I think maybe more than I ever had. I needed that connection to something familiar, even if it was mostly false, it was familiar and we were in a new place, I was in a new country for the first time in my life and everything we had moved here for had been a bit of a mirage and I just needed to know we weren’t completely alone in the world and that someone, fucking anyone, had our back, someone to tell us that we were going to be okay. I was scared and I needed a mom.


That intense need passed, mostly. My anger rose up at every holiday, the first Christmas we were here, just my partner and I and our youngest. She didn’t even check to see if we were okay. Birthdays passed, and nothing. 


This morning I woke up thinking about my mom. Even considered calling her, before I let myself really think about it. I talked to my partner a little bit about it, and I just…can’t. I know that one day I won’t have the option, and that eventually we will run out of time. But at what point am I allowed to accept that I did try, and have for nearly all of my life. I’ve been the one to try, to put aside all the bullshit and try to build some semblance of a relationship with her, for my kids to have a grandparent, because she’s it. She’s the only living grandparent my youngest child has. He’s four and she’s not seen him in almost two years. He doesn’t know her and she shows no interest in knowing him, so he really doesn’t  have any grandparents. Or aunts or uncles or cousins who care. It’s just us. I think that makes me resent her more, that she knows it’s just us and it’s still not enough to make her want to care, want to reach out, want to love us – to love me. 


I’ve been grieving not having a relationship with my mother for as long as I can remember. Over and over again. I know that I have two options, ultimately. I can call her and start the process of trying all over again, or I can move on and realize I did try and it’s not in mine, or my children’s best interest to chase someone who doesn’t want us. I feel stuck in the middle. Stuck in a “I wish things were different” loop and I am raging against it. No one is forcing me to make a decision, but I’m aware that I am torturing myself in the limbo and I deserve to find some peace somehow. 


I don’t know. Even now I find myself thinking, “maybe I’ll call, what if this time is different?” It’s complicated isn’t it? If it was a partner who treated me poorly, ignored my kids and took advantage of me over and over again, then it would be easy to say “fuck that, ditch that person!” but when it’s a parent, there’s a feeling of, what, obligation? Is that what it is that makes me feel like this is different? Because she gave birth to me, she must have love for me, therefore I should endure? There is a lot of shame in not having a relationship with my mom, in not liking her. Culturally, we are taught that we just have to. That’s just what people do. So I feel broken, heartless, too emotional or sensitive, too unwilling to do the mental gymnastics to pretend like everything isn’t fucked up. Thus the cycle begins again. I feel guilty for being unlovable. That’s some heavy shit, right? It’s something I need to let go of. It isn’t true. I’m not unlovable. I know this. 


A part of me hoped writing through some shit would help make it make sense, that I would have a better idea of how to move forward once I bled it out on the screen. Maybe it will in time. Maybe this feeling will pass again, maybe I will just call. Maybe I will just keep writing until I feel differently. Maybe, maybe, maybe, baby.


I will figure it out. Or I won’t. Life goes on either way, I guess, until it doesn’t, right? Until then, I’m here, living my life, loving my kids, doing better, getting by. Learning to thrive, regardless.






  • Nikki

    Nikki is a photographer, writer, artist, and advocate of radical self-love. She writes about mental health, gaming, sex, and inclusivity.

2 thoughts on “Mother, Mother

    • Lisa, this is a really callous response to a very sensitive and well articulated blog post. I won’t speak for Nikki, but to my mind, this is an unhelpful and unsolicited bit of advice. If it were so simple as to just “deal with it”, don’t you think she would have by now? A little tact, please.

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