Thursday, October 1, 2015

On Missing My Mom

One weekend a while back, I felt like calling my mother. I sat on the floor and typed this instead, wiping away the tears before they could drip on the keys.

[My mother],

I wanted to go dancing tonight but I have a cold and my chest aches. My period started today. And I’ve been crying a lot because I had my first breakup this month. (I know, right? You had how many breakups as a teenager? No wonder you didn't want me to date.)

So we ordered pizza. We watched cartoons on Netflix and B--- and I did one of the sticker mosaic pictures you sent her. The two of us enjoy doing art projects together. Art rests my mind and soothes my feelings when the ends get frayed. And you’ve found so many easy crafts that are fun for us to work on together.

I wish it was fun for me to do things with you. I wish we could hang out together and make pretty things while we talk about life. I wish I could trade the mom role for the daughter one, and show you the things I do and have you smile and tell me how impressed you are and hang them up to display to everyone.

I wish you could be proud of how brave I’ve been this week.
  • I went back to the Spanish class—the one I had to drop two years ago before I knew I had PTSD—and I think I’m going to make it this time! The professor seems smart and kind and calls us her sweet pumpkins. I love her for that. 
  • I had a pap smear, and got blood drawn for my first ever STD tests, and even asked my doctor to look at ____. I’ve wanted to ask a doctor about that since I was 17 and I only just got up the nerve. I may even have surgery! I remember how much hospitals and doctors used to frighten you. Don’t you think I’m brave?!
  • And I spent a whole morning at the abortion clinic. The same clinic where Dr. Tiller used to work before some religious terrorist murdered him in his church. I had to drive past some male terrorists to get into the parking lot. They were trying to intimidate me with Bible verses and gruesome pictures, and I so wanted to give them the finger. But I knew that wouldn’t do the women I was there to help any good, so I restrained my feelings and ignored the ignorant haters. I watched the security guard inspect my purse, even the zipper pocket still full of condoms from the relationship that isn't anymore. 
 I was compassionate and non-judgmental and a little scared and still very emotional. But I tried to be professional and mostly I was just there with those women on a very difficult day of their lives. And I was there because of you. You and your fifteen (sixteen? more?) pregnancies. I know you can’t appreciate that, but how I wish you could. After all, you taught me how to do things you believe in even if no one else gets it.

It felt like autumn today. My roses are still blooming but I saw a golden tree branch amongst the green this week so I know crisper days are around the corner. Today felt like the sort of Sunday to go pick apples and drink cider. I miss the Michigan colors. And the sandy trails. If it wasn’t uncomfortable to see you, I would want to drive up and eat pasties and go hiking and roast marshmallows and look at the stars. But it wouldn’t be any fun if you had to hold your nose to notice the things you like about me. :(

I’m so proud of my girls. I learn so much from them, and I love that they are their own people. They think and feel differently from me and in some ways I can’t even relate to them. But they know I love them and care about them and am there for them. They can ask me about anything and come get a hug whenever they need one. From here on, I am just winging it, for there is almost nothing from my girlhood beyond eight years old that I desire to repeat in their experience.

Did you know that I’ve taken up coloring? I even draw pictures once in a while—usually to calm myself. And I just crocheted a scarf—wrong season, I know, but there’s nothing like the repetitive movements of hook and yarn to work out tangled emotions.

I have realized this year just how emotional a person I am. It’s as if my feelings were stuffed deep down below my reasoning for years and have just been tumbling out lately. There are so many and they are so strong! Some days it’s a wonder they don’t tear me apart!

I miss you, Mom. Maybe I've always missed you.



  1. I don't have a relationship with my mom but I don't miss her....which is worse?

    1. I don't know that either case is "better". But it was a healthy stage for me to be aware of the parts of me that need mothering.

  2. I can relate to a lot of that. The other day I realized I had lost one of my mom's recipes and had a mini-breakdown because we don't even have a relationship where I can simply call and ask for a recipe. It's hard.

  3. My mother died when I was 17. Even though we talked a lot, and I could tell my younger siblings things she had told me, there was still a lot to ask her. I have missed her so much over the years, and it still hurts. When I can't keep it down any more, I just let the feelings come, and roll over me. Cry if the tears are there. I feel different after, sometimes better, sometimes just different.

    After Mum died a lady who went to our Church (Catholic) said the best thing to me. She to pray to her, not for her. I wondered about this or a while, but eventually it made sense.

  4. What's this about condoms and a breakup? Aren't you married to Chris? I feel like I'm missing something.

  5. Thanks for this. Someone sent it to me a while ago (or linked from the RBN subreddit?), and I'd had it in memory as a mother's day article. This, and your 2016 thoughts on that holiday, are comforting, even though there's nothing I feel like telling her. The world out here is very unlike her dire predictions of how things would turn out if I didn't "get right with God." Which she would know was the case, as soon as I'd behave exclusively in ways that remained well within her comfort zone. Any choice different from her own, she read as rejection of her as a person.

    I'm not sure why the approaching day is affecting me this year, after decades of not noticing it, or not caring when I did notice.

    Perhaps it's time to start my own tradition to proactively mark the day. I think I'll donate to Planned Parenthood. Now, to come up with a meaningful dollar amount...