Where Did My Mom Go? {Figuring Out This Thing Called Motherhood Without Her}

I have such a fierce, unabashed and unconditional love for my children. A love I assume most mothers have; one you don’t truly understand until you’re a mother. Something shifts inside you, and you care more about this little being than yourself. You’d walk through hell and fire for your child, and it’s just innate.

Where Did Mom Go?

So when my own mother berates me, dumps on me and continuously emotionally abuses me, I can’t wrap my head around it. How can a parent, in good conscience, treat their own child that way? I can never in a million years imagine saying half the things to my children that my mother has said to me. We’ve always had a tumultuous relationship, but it just continuously escalates to another level of messed up year after year.

Yet, no sooner do I plan to truly walk away, she turns around and makes some gesture, or has some sort of eye opening experience, that gives me just a shred of hope. I think “this time it will be different. She gets it this time.” Then the roller coaster begins again – she emotionally vomits all over me and I’m supposed to clean it up. It doesn’t matter that I have my own responsibilities and stressors. It doesn’t matter that I have my immediate family to care for. In her mind, it’s just her and I’m the catalyst. And again, I imagine licking my wounds and walking away. For real, this time. Yet I never do. No one else will take care of her; there is no one else. So I feel guilty, and I continue to be a punching bag. It affects my mood, and I take it out on my kids and my husband. I go to therapy; it gets better. Maybe it’s better for a few weeks, maybe it’s better for a few months. But it always happens again.

Remembering and realization

Sometimes I lie awake at night dreaming of what a true mother daughter relationship would look like. There was a time, when I was really young, that I can remember it.  I remember her comforting me, fixing my hair, picking out the perfect Christmas dress. As years passed and life happened, some of it really heavy and really hard, things shifted. Somewhere along the line, it became too much. I get that it sucked, and it still does. But as I approach a similar stage in my life and also have had to handle really heavy things, I find it harder and harder to understand. At least not in a way that your child should be affected. You’d think she would want to protect me from it, not bring me to it.

Regardless of the happenings of the day, my children will always feel loved. They will always feel protected. They will always get to be kids. They will never feel less than the amazing people they are. Even if I feel like I got run over by a truck. I want everything for them. I want them to grow up happy and healthy and one day have families of their own. I want them to have friends, hobbies and love their lives … even if mine doesn’t turn out exactly how I want. So WHY can I not get the same from my own mother?

Acceptance versus Resentment

It consumes an equal amount of sadness and anger in me that I can’t quite explain. I find myself watching other families who have support systems and parents with whom they have really great relationships with, and I’m resentful. Why can’t I have that? It’s not right to feel that way, but sometimes I just can’t help it. When someone complains about something mundane, I think “well, at least you have someone. At least you’re not alone.” I know everyone has a cross, and maybe this is mine. I’d never directly express this out loud to someone or act differently towards a friend because of it. I just find myself imagining what my life would look like if I had that. I’m working on this journey towards finding my own happiness and know that at some point, I’ll have to truly face this. Head on, no holds barred and decide where I go from there. Do I walk away, lay down the law, or just cope?

You can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change themselves. Even if it’s drugs, alcohol or simply a chemical imbalance, you can’t make someone be something they aren’t. You can only handle how you respond. In another life, I imagine I have this quintessential happy mother daughter dynamic. Then I realize I’m not really alone. I’m not the only one.  Life isn’t perfect. But I’ll do my damnedest to make it as close to that for my kids as possible.


  1. It sounds like we have the same mother! It isn’t easy. And not just in a “I sometimes fight with my mom too” way. There’s a certain kind of relationship you can only recognize when you have it too. I’m there with ya!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here