An Open Letter To My Mother

This is the follow-up to the powerful essay Alexandra wrote last week. In it, she came to grips with childhood trauma and searched for answers in her mother’s actions. Read that essay if you haven’t yet, then come back and read this. 

Dear Mom,

I’ve begun writing this too many times to remember. I’m angry. I’m upset. I’m sad. I’m disappointed. I’m trying to make sense of so much, Mom, of our broken family, of you being emotionally absent for me and my siblings, to you prioritizing a piece of scum over your children.

What man would talk down to a woman and verbally assault her in front of her children? And what mother would allow that to happen and scold her children if they tried to protect her? Do you know that I refuse to celebrate my birthday, and it’s not because Grandpa passed away on my birthday years ago. It’s because you never prioritized my birthday, one year you simply left an outfit on my bed and left a note stating you’d be at his house for the night. I spent the whole night crying, Mom. There is no reason my oldest sister, who for reasons you refuse to take responsibility for, had to raise me and my siblings. You were the mother, you were the parent. But you weren’t there.

I’m sure I should be in therapy. Everyone thinks I’m so put together. I do what I have to do for my family, but I’m a mess and for the longest time I refused to work through the negative feelings of my childhood. Do you know I have almost no recollection of my childhood before age 11 except a few moments that stand out. The time you flung me across the room because I asked a friend’s parent for ice cream money. Or what about one of the many times you were beating me and I cried out my brother’s name. That was my childhood, Mom – that is what I remember. The affects of living with an emotionally absent and depressed woman is that I now have severe issues with communication with friends and in my relationships. I withdraw and I shut people out – for awhile I got scared because I worried I was going to end up like you. Miserable and manically depressed.

While I can’t imagine being given up for adoption as a newborn as you were, I do know what abandonment feels like. You abandoned us – you abandoned me. For someone who wanted a big family so bad, you sure didn’t treat us like you wanted us.

Being a mother for the past nine years has been the most amazing experience. I was young, Mom, I needed your guidance, I needed your support, I needed your love. I didn’t know how to be a mom and spent the first few years of her life walking on eggshells, frantic I was going to mess her up, wanting to do everything in my power to make sure I was emotionally present for her, that I showed her I loved her, to ensure she didn’t end up like me. And it’s only now as a parent that I see how difficult it is to manage your own growth and well-being with that of your children’s. It’s tough, and some days seems impossible, especially being a single mother just like you were and as I am.

Hurt people hurt people, and I wish you would’ve gotten help for yourself and for your family. It’s painful to live in misery and you didn’t shield us from it at all. I felt absolutely helpless watching you struggle; no child should have to witness their parent so unhappy. All your life you wanted a family, and once you got it you realized it didn’t complete you the way you wanted it to. You were still empty inside. And that’s ok, Mom. But you owed it to us to get help and work through your problems so you could be there for us. Because we needed you…even though we never told you. We needed you to kiss our boo-boos, to come to school concerts, to dance and laugh with us. You raised us with discipline and as a result I am independent and resilient, and I thank you for that.

You are my mother – through the good, the bad, the super super bad and the ugly. I’d like to start repairing the hurt and have you rebuild your relationship with my daughter that you once prioritized.

Don’t give up on us again, Mom. It’s not too late.

With Love,

Your daughter Alexandra


  1. This is such a reflection of hoq I felt abt my mother. She wasn’t physically abusive but she was emotionally neglectful. Since her death in September 2013, I’ve been trying to bput my feelings and thoughts into perspective.Its gonna be a long road to even begin to figure anything but at the ebd of everything, the one thing Im sure about is that she loved me. I know that because she gave me to someone who was able to care for a chils when she couldn’t. Its a lot to admit you can’t be a mother to your child. Anyway, i hope you find peace with the relationship with your mom. I advise you to tread lightly because if God forbid, she should pass, you ‘ll be left with another set of feelings and issues that you’ll have to work out