I Cut My Mom Out Of My Life, And Every Day I Strive To Be The Mom She Wasn't

by Samantha Basek
Originally Published: 
A mom wearing a black t-shirt screaming at her young daughter while holding her arms

To say I have mommy issues is an understatement. I grew up in a home with a mother whose mood swings were extremely unpredictable. I later found out that alcoholism played a part. She was very resistant to go to therapy — giving it a shot only a few times and either hating the therapist or telling me that the therapist found nothing wrong with her (this is not how therapy works). I have spent my whole childhood parented by a woman who didn’t make safe and sound decisions for me. She manipulated events, memories and facts to fit her narrative in which she was always a victim.

I grew up with a woman who drank way too much and too often. I didn’t see this clearly until I was older, married with kids of my own. At that time, her problems intensified. I saw her spiral. I saw her body shut down. I saw her continue to deny and deflect even when things got so bad that she almost lost her life to her addictions.

Years ago, I made a decision to cut my mom out of my life. This was the hardest and healthiest decision I’ve ever made for myself and my family. No one in my close Greek family had ever done this and I suppose I was the first to attempt breaking the generational curse that pulled me into its grasp. As I went to therapy, I continued to unlock memories that, up until now, seemed innocent enough. Decisions my mom had made for me, that I wouldn’t have thought twice about before I started analyzing my childhood and became a mother myself, were clearly dangerous and problematic. Did my mom give me food and shelter? Yes. Did she physically abuse me? No. Did she always try to make our life look happier to the outside world than what it was? Yes. The mental abuse ran rampant. Her lack of support, understanding and love are now obvious. Her lack of good judgement throughout my entire life has marked me.

But now, as I speak with her only during medical emergencies on her end, I find myself constantly missing the mother that never was, the mother that never could be. I hold my babies close and wish my mom held me, loved me, valued me, would die for me like I would for them. I wish my mom could have been more present and supportive. I long for parents that are capable of being my support system like my husband’s parents so effortlessly are. I can’t wait to be this for my own children — to be the person they call night or day for any reason.

I will be there for my babies in the big moments and the small moments. When they need me, my children will not have to worry if I’m too drunk to help them. They will not have to think that they can’t call me because I can’t handle such excitement — that I’ll make this moment about me.

A few years ago, before my estrangement with my mother, a friend of mine died. We found out late one snowy night, and I posted about this loss on Facebook. At midnight, I received a call from my mom. I ignored it. Then I picked up the next call from my dad, who was slurring his words asking what happened — my mom screaming and crying in the background as if she experienced a major loss herself. This moment was about a million things for my parents, but my grief was not one of them. My kids will never know that selfishness from my husband or I. They will be able to rely on me, trust me and lean on me like I will always wish I could do with my own mom.

I’m not sure that this longing for a mom that will never be can ever really subside. It makes me sad, but I try to pull myself out of that place of self-pity when I find myself there. I dust off, look around and know that this is where it ends. I am the change that so many generations of this family have been waiting for. I am far from perfect, but I know I can be better than what came before me. I am the mother that never was.

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