Being Motherless…When Your Mom is Still Alive

My mom is alive, yet I am a “motherless mother.” You see, several decades ago, our relationship was fractured due to abuse. Not her abuse. Her boyfriend’s abuse toward me.  My mom had no idea what he was doing to me until I told her after they broke up. The extent of our conversation was her asking, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” and me replying, “I thought you would be mad at me.” No counseling, no prosecution, NOTHING. I was so young and confused. I knew we needed to do something, but I didn’t know what. I was angry and sad that she didn’t try to help, but I was “okay.” Plus, I had a baby sister coming. And though she was from him, I was truly excited about her. I originally saw my new baby sister as a light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Until more than once I caught my mom talking on the phone to him, even after she knew. That’s when our relationship was broken. Things would never be the same.

At only nine years old, I lost the mother I thought I knew. Not only did she leave me to deal with the aftermath of the abuse myself, there she was talking with my abuser – civilly, I might add. It has been over 20 years since then, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I’m angry now just typing this. I was too young to know what to do or how to process all of this, so I just . . . dealt with it. Forgave her. Kind of.

We moved shortly thereafter, and my mom began dating someone new. I immediately didn’t trust him, because why would I? Based on my experience with my part-time dad plus my mom’s abusive ex-boyfriend, I had zero capacity to trust that this guy was up to any good. And because I was reluctant to accept him into my life, I was all but pushed out of my family. Holidays were celebrated without me, family portraits that I wasn’t in hung on the walls, and my mother even once showed me her complete and utter lack of understanding of the Bible when she told me,“The bible says for a woman to be with a man and FORSAKE ALL OTHERS.” Me being the other.

Though I was provided a roof to live under and food to eat, which I am grateful for, I did not get much beyond that in the way of parenting or “family.” My mom married this boyfriend, and he really is a good guy. But he had no idea what to do with me or how to have a relationship with someone who was so hurt and distrustful of those who were supposed to protect her. He did the best he could though, and today, we have a good relationship.

For awhile, during my early adult life, things improved between my mom and me. We were never close, but she was there. She would help me on occasion with my children if I needed her, but she never seemed like she wanted to be with us.

And now? Now my mom is supporting my heroin addicted sister, and is deep into drugs herself. Shooting heroin with her daughter? I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I don’t know how they got to this point. That sister I thought would be a light ended up being partially responsible for tearing my family apart. My stepdad finally became fed up with their “lifestyle” and left. And now, my children do not and will likely never know their grandmother.

So as Mother’s Day approaches, I feel incredibly alone. I see so many friends praise their mom’s for all that they do this time of year. And I am happy for them. Truly happy. But I have no idea what that is like. What is it like to have a mom who WANTS to be part of your life? Who knows and loves your children? Who didn’t leave you broken and bruised to figure out life on your own?

Then I see my poor friends who do not have their mother’s on this earth anymore, and I feel sad for them. Truly sad. And I can relate to them more than the ones with living, involved moms. They post about their pain and sadness. Am I entitled to post about my pain too? I really don’t even know. I just know that my mom is here, but she’s not.  And it hurts.


  1. Finally. A Mother’s Day post I can relate to. “I just know my mom is here, but she’s not. And it hurts!”
    I’m a pretty content person most of the time. I keep my jealousy of things and trips in check. But, the feelings of jealousy I can’t seem to shake is my friends with moms that are awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I even get jealous of their petty mother daughter quarrels. Becoming a mom made me question how any woman could be so selfish to choose herself above her kids? So since I was 5, I haven’t sent a Mother’s Day card to my “mom” (unless grandma bought it and sent it to her). My girls won’t know their grandma. And with every new motherhood milestone I have to process my feelings of Our relationship each time. So guest blogger, thank you for sharing these feelings. I’m sure there’s a lot of us out there mothering without our mothers who choose not to be involved.

  2. I know this had to be difficult to write. I commend you for posting this for other moms who share the same or similar story. Happy Mothers day to you!!! Breaking the cycle, breaking the chain. That’s something to celebrate this mothers day!!

  3. Just one of those nights surfing thru the web because my brain is overload…………..I am motherless, yet I have a “mother” that is very much alive and lives only about 5 hours away from me, in June it will be 49 years since I have seen her (I am 62, last saw her when I was 13)……….we have spoke on the phone ONCE for about 5 minutes and that was 37 years ago……………I truly hate her, I feel hurt to the core, yet all these years and I still get so sad and depressed and cry, THAT makes me so mad, but thats how deep the hurt is I guess. Very hard finding anyone that understands or that I can talk to about it.

  4. I am finally understanding that – my living mother, whom I’ve not spoken to in over 30 years – is wrong about me. I don’t deserve abuse, I’m lovable. My entire family has hostility to me. Twin, 3 sisters, 1 brother. They all abused me and continue to have contempt for me so I keep my distance. It hurts. I can’t relate to having any loving family. My abusive Dad is deceased.

    This post, and Robbin’s comment especially, helped me so much.

    I have finally accepted that these circumstances cannot be changed. To set myself free from the oppression of believing their lies and being self-destructive, I have forgiven them. That has freed me and now, underneath my unforgiveness, I’m discovering an intense grief that I can’t make my mother want me.

    I have Christ, I have his peace. I have many people who love me. I no longer feel that gnawing abandonment and loneliness from my mother not loving me. I’m grieving what ‘could have been’ so I can heal.

    I’m praying Christ will give me a family of my own. I finally feel I deserve one. This morning I prayed and said Christ, I need you to be a Mom to me cause I don’t have one. He answers prayer.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear of the pain you went through and the hurt that is still there. You absolutely have a right to post about your pain and sadness. I lost my mom 15 years ago but our relationship was very similar to yours with the men and drugs. I don’t know if we would have ever reconciled. I’ve since lost my dad too. My husband lost his dad when he was a toddler and his mother does not care to play the grandmother role and is also an absent mother. It hurts me the most to see our friends’ parents being involved with their children. My child had 4 chances to have a loving grandparent, we held out hope for my mother-in-law and we blew it. Thanks again for your piece. Stay strong.

  6. Thank you for this blog. Its 5 days to Mothers Day, although my mother is still alive I do feel motherless. I tried to cope with her nonsense for years and now that I am 42 I finally gave up on my birthday. I have to ive my life without hurt.


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