On Grieving The Mother You Never Had


I’m finding ways to move through life without my mom. She’s around somewhere, living her best life. I’m trying to do the same, but I have to do it without her.

Mother-daughter relationships can be complex. They go through phases. As a teen, mom knew nothing, but as an adult you find out mom was always right. Growing up, my relationship with my mom was the same, but there was something important missing…


When I was in high school, I always wanted that mom I could run to when I had a problem. One that would console me, hug me, tell me I was beautiful or special. But my mom was different. She was too disassociated from me and all the extracurricular activities I did in school to notice. She only noticed me when other people were around.

When I tell people I was homeless for three years, they always ask me how. They wonder if I was I a bad kid. Did I come home pregnant or on drugs? No, none of the above. I was a straight nerd who stayed after school helping teachers because I didn’t want to go home.

I don’t usually go into details in casual conversation, but some people I will tell,, “My mom said she was ‘tired of looking at me’ and made me leave.”

It’s true. I remember those words well.

Those three years after high school graduation, I lived in my car, then with a family I met online. I became a reporter, got on my feet, finished college and moved to another state.

Through all that, a part of me still wanted my mom to be in my life. I thought that if I showed her I came out on top, she would finally be the mom that I needed. But that never happened.

In the world of healing, we call it “going NC,” AKA going no contact. I went NC with my mom sometime last year. No more texts, no more calls, no more Facebook likes or voicemails of her telling me she wishes I was better.

Ever since I went NC, I’ve never felt so happy.

I had to learn to let go of the hope that my mom would change. That one day I could call her and tell her I hosted a banquet or sat down with a celebrity and she’d respond with something other than, “I’m busy, you’re gonna have to call me back.”

I’ve been reading this book, Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride. If you feel your mom has some of the same characteristics as mine, I suggest you read it too.

There’s a section about grieving the mother you never had. That hit hard for me just recently.

I was watching Crazy Rich Asians, which is supposed to be a feel-good movie. But I spent the majority of it bawling my eyes out. Like, really ugly crying.

There’s a scene when the main character, Rachel Chu, gets publicly humiliated by the mom of her soon-to-be husband. Rachel runs home and cries for days until her mother flies around the world to be there for her daughter.

I lost it. I realized I would never have a mom like that. And I write that very matter-of-factly. I won’t. I had to accept that. It feels like someone did die: the mom I will never have.

I’m writing this now, in the home of a friend who has pictures on every wall of her and her child. I’ve never seen someone so happy to be a mom. It’s beautiful.

I hope that if you do have a mom who loves being your mom, you cherish the moments she’s there for you. Being a mom can’t be easy, but there’s nothing like a mother’s love if you’re lucky to feel it.

Grief sucks, even this kind. It’s ugly. Some days you don’t want to get out of bed. Other days you’re accomplishing goals and taking names. The key is to feel the sadness, all of it. Don’t try to push it away. It will still be there. It’s okay to be sad.

I don’t know what happens after the grieving. What I do know is everything I’ve done in my life up to this point, I’ve done myself. I’ve gotten this far and done this much on my own.

The time period when I needed that maternal nurturing is gone. My life is up to me to make sure I am happy and my future is good. For me and my future kids.

So this goes out to all the girls who feel like me. While people are posting photos of their big happy families on holidays, if you don’t have that, this goes out to you.

You’ve given yourself the motherly love you didn’t receive when you should have. So from me to you: You are beautiful, you are special, and now, there’s nothing important missing.