Dear Mom

Daily Prompt: Write a letter to your mom. Tell her something you’ve always wanted to say, but haven’t been able to. 

I read through many of the posts on the Daily Prompt page before sitting down to write a response, as I was curious if they would all be positive. Most were, but I did find a few that weren’t, so I felt better I would not be alone.

I did not have a mother or a relationship with my mother like those my friends had. Their mothers loved them unconditionally, built up their confidence, hugged and kissed them for no reason other than they wanted to show their love. Their mothers encouraged them, helped them to rise up to meet a challenge and stood by them as they climbed the mountain to reach it. They gave them guidance, listened to what they had to say, offered feedback with understanding.

If you were to ask my two sisters what their experience with my mother was, they might list all of the above. But not me. I was cut from a different cloth, more like my father, with his traits, which maybe was the first problem. She was never able to understand who I was, so different from her. I was sensitive, easy to cry, easily overcome with emotion if I couldn’t “get” something, which was always met with a response of stop being so dramatic, or get over it. I grew up hearing “you can’t” a lot, “what’s wrong with you” which only served to continually undermine my lack of confidence and self esteem. The answer was most often a resounding no when I wanted to try something new. Her own fears getting in the way of allowing me to grow. In school I was on my own, I longed for the mother who was interested in what her child was doing for homework, who helped with projects. I was not a “self starter” like my sister, who didn’t seem to need the “extra” something, the encouragement, she did just fine on her own.

My mother was great at pointing out the faults, never the positive in something that I accomplished. I learned to play piano, was a good sight reader but all I heard from her was that I was “banging.” I became a proficient cook and baker as an adult, but she was always quick to remind everyone at a dinner party that all I used to make were cookies that came out flat, instead of saying first how great the dinner was and how far I had come; the focus was always on what was or had been, forever ingrained in her mind. It was impossible for her to give me the compliment.

My BFF pointed out once that she thought my mother never really “got me” Never really understood who I was, nor cared to. I was different from her, so therefore I was wrong. She wasn’t emotional, wasn’t an emotional person, therefore how could her daughter be? She was pragmatic, so how could her daughter not be?

It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I finally came to terms with the fact that I would never hear from her that she was proud of me, never hear that she thought I had “done good,” that she loved me. You may ask why does that matter if I know I have accomplished things despite her lack of encouragement.  It matters. Maybe it is a built in preconceived notion or emotion that makes us seek approval from our parents, maybe it is the lack of that approval that makes us keep wanting it more. I spent a lifetime attempting to have her see me through positive eyes, to just once have her encourage me rather than say no, or don’t bother, or why would you want to do that? I realized it was never going to happen and it was time to just accept it.

There are different ways to accept something we have no control over changing. Accept it and continue on in the relationship with a different expectation, knowing you will never get what you need, or accept it and close the door on it. I chose to close the door. I chose to no longer bear the brunt of her negativity, her inability to give me what I needed emotionally. I needed to step away.

She took care of what needed to be taken care of as I grew up, doctors appointments, braces for my teeth, clothes on my back, but I can never remember hearing I love you, or having her there for me when I was going through something challenging. Sometimes the clothes on your back are just not enough.1960mom

41 thoughts on “Dear Mom

  1. Great letter. My parents divorced when I was 13 and my mom raised us – three boys almost singlehandedly. She made lots of mistakes, but dad was gone and she was on her own. I was able to visit her on her 77th birthday this year and it was great to be with her. My dad passed away almost six years ago today and he and I had the same type of relationship you and your mom had – I think it was a product of his own growing up. We are who we are because of what we lived through – we can choose to rise above. At times it’s difficult to overcome. Have a great week.


    • Thank you so much for your comment- yes I agree so much with your line about people being who they are as a result of how they grew up. It was my father who I was close to, to understood me- I am glad for that. Enjoy your weekend and thanks for stopping by!


  2. These kind of posts are hard for those of us — and there are MANY MANY MANY of us — who did not have the “idealized” relationship with our mothers extolled by Hollywood. I tend to doubt the reality of a lot of those overly soppy memories of mom. I have some up close and personal observations of people who now talk about their relationships of either or both parents as perfect — but I remember very clearly that it was simply NOT true.

    I had a flawed mother. She wasn’t particularly motherly. Housekeeping, cooking, and nurturing didn’t come naturally do her and I think finding herself at home with three children was about the same as finding herself stranded on a desert island with baby kangaroos. She did the best she knew how. She was a find mother on an intellectual level. She was great at encouraging reading, the arts, and she was SO glad to get us out of the house, getting freedom to do stuff was not an issue. But don’t expect her to kiss your boo boo or brush away your tears. She just didn’t have it in her.

    I think we turned out just fine, don’t you?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa, I can also relate to this. I had to take over the household at the age of 13, because my mother was always ‘sick’ ! Later years we had a better relationship!


  4. Lisa, I can so relate to this. One of my aunts understands but to everyone else I am the bad child who turned her back. You can only take so much and then, as you say, you have to move on. That is what I chose and I don’t let anyone’s thoughts bother me. I love that saying, “What other people think about you is none of your business.” They can think what they want, but I know. Big difference. Everything I did was not to do as my mother did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing- it is always good to know I am not alone in how I have dealt with relationships. I am very close with my mother’s sister, who also has nothing to do with my mother or her other siblings. I love that saying and will remember it. I also have tried to do not as my mother did- I call it “breaking the chain”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is hard to read for so many reasons and words seem inadequate to express all that you must feel and have lost. Only you know where you’ve been, the wounds that have been inflicted and the scars that remain. It took a lot of courage to express those feelings here, but it must provide you a feeling of freedom that most people can’t understand unless they’ve been there.
    I was curious as I read through this if you are close to your sisters, especially the one who you mention is a lot like your mother.
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your understanding comment. As with anything, once you come to terms with the fact that something is not going to change, and make the choice in how to live with it, it is freeing, you are right. My relationship with my sisters has gone through different stages through our lives, the one like my mother I have gotten along with because I made the effort to put aside our differences. The youngest one was more like me but as she has gotten older became more like my mother in her narrow out look on life.


  6. I am sending you a virtual hug, I have 2 brothers and one sister I was the black sheep (Pecora Nera) I was scared of my mum up until I was 45 ish. She told me I was a difficult child, I managed to reply, I was an unhappy child … if it helps. I was lucky my dad loved me

    Liked by 1 person

    • that is how I feel about my father too- he made the difference and made up for everything she wasn’t. Thank you for reading and understanding and your comment- sending you back a hug!! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s sad to hear that. But relationships are not perfect. I have my shares of such stuff, but it’s kinda difficult to put them in words. I have talked about them a lot, but somehow to put it in writing makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know how to make things better. Maybe, with time things will change. But very brave of you to write this down!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It has taken me a long time to get to this place where I can write about it. It is freeing in many ways to see the words on paper- brings things clearly into view- but you need to be in a place of acceptance to do it I believe. Talking about it brings clarity for sure- I hope things work out for you in a way that makes it better for you

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m sorry your mom was not what you needed her to be!! And knowing the whys that made her like that probably doesn’t really make it better. I don’t know you…but I bet that the things you longed for from your mom (the positive and encouraging words and the “I love yous”) are things you are probably very good now because you know what it is to not have them. So just maybe you are a better person because of it 🙂 My minister often says, “They are loving you the best way they know how,” and it is something I am constantly remembering when dealing with people…which still doesn’t make it better…but at least for the moment that I am remembering that thought…I’m not quite as angry with the person in front of me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your comment- and you are correct, I vowed not to be the person my mother was and strove to be positive and not critical and negative. My problem with “the best they know how” is that I am a big believer on striving to better oneself, on making changes, on looking deep within to find a better way to be. It is not easy, but is important if you want to have relationships that are meaningful. My mother was never willing to do that. My parents divorced when I was 20 and I totally understood why my father could no longer stay in a marriage lacking communication and living with someone who saw everything in black and white.


  9. Can relate to this so much and can feel the frustration and pain you must have felt growing up. Why is it that we seem wired to seek approval – no matter how many times we get disappointed?
    This year (at 32) I closed the door. I still don’t know what makes me sadder – the fact it was so easy to close or the fact I don’t ever want to open it again.


  10. This is such a sad story, not only for the past but also the present. It’s sad for both of you. You both missed out on so much; you – the mother you deserved and her – the wonderful, gifted daughter you are.


    • Just reading it is enough- it is what it is- I have made peace with it in many ways- looked at it from every angle, why my mother is the person she is, what made her that way, what makes her tick, on an intellectual level I understand all of it- but on an emotional level so much of the way I am is as a result of how I was raised. Much was good, but I just needed more from someone who just couldn’t give it.

      Liked by 1 person

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