Dear Mommy

Dear Mommy,

It was nice to see you the other day.  Nice to be able to feed you some good food, which you get so little of these days; nice to see you smile and laugh.

And I don’t like saying this, because it’s not your fault, but it was hard, too.  It always is.

The thing is, as happy as I am to meet you for lunch each week, I’m not gonna lie, I wish you’d just come back.  I want you to be yourself again;  I want the voices to stop so you can have a home and doctors and medication; I want you to be able to put money in a real bank instead of money and dirt and rocks and bits of paper in a night drop box on a random bank out on Bainbridge Island.  And I want you to know that putting rocks in a bank box won’t do anything but make a mess for the early morning employees to clean up.

But I suppose, most of all, I want you to be a mom like my friends have.  I know they’re imperfect, but they’re there.  My friends chat with their mothers and their mothers listen and give them good advice.  Each week you give me all that you can, and I don’t want to wish for more, but I do.

Because of your absence I’ve had to figure a lot out alone.  Especially when it comes to my kids.  I’ve read my own weight in parenting books and magazines.  I’ve attended workshops and connected with other moms.  I’ve built up my village to the point where I don’t need to worry about an unexpected illness or emergency room visit.  I know there will be someone to call.

But I wish I could call you.

I wish I could ask you for parenting advice.  I wish you would hold up baby Spencer and smile and laugh with him.  I wish you could take Quinn for the afternoon so I could get a nap while the baby sleeps.  I wish you could tell her stories about the first time you saw her, or the birds you saw in the magnolia tree instead of the CIA takeover of your bus this morning.

But I’m used to it now.  Used to not being able to ask you for advice, or help, or even for a story about what I was like at Quinn’s age.  You do your best to help: you write down the name of the medicine I should get the doctor to prescribe for what you insist is Spencer’s colic, and the address I should email to have someone pay my phone bill.  Is it wrong that I just want you to tell me it’s hard to be a mom, it’s hard to be sleep-deprived, and you will love me and support me however you can?  Is it wrong to want more than you can give?  To want you to hear just my voice for one short hour every Monday?

I know it’s not your fault that you can’t do that for me.  Yes, I do wish you were different, but you’re you, and even though I am reminded of all that you cannot be every time I see you, I love you just as you are.

See you next week,



5 thoughts on “Dear Mommy”

    1. Thanks Patrick, for reading and for commenting. It’s good for me to share these things, to learn how to grieve, and I appreciate you being a part of that. Hope you’re well!

  1. Your post really hit home. I read your article on Mother’s Day last year on Burnside Writers and it made me cry. Reading this post made me tear up again. My mom has schizophrenia as well and everytime when I’m dealing with life’s Big Questions or just some mundane problem, I wish she could be there for me to answer my questions, or to listen and say that it’ll be fine. Or not. But to have a coherent answer for once would be nice.

    It’s difficult, if not impossible, explaining to someone who has no experience with mental illnesses how it’s like to have a parent who is there, but who isn’t there at all at the same time. I’m impressed by how you keep trying to connect with your mom and that you’re able to see that she’s trying to help in her own way.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I’m looking forward to your book.

    1. Thanks so much for responding. As much as I appreciate reading your comments and knowing that I’m not alone, it hurts to hear your story and to know that other people go through this, too.

      Thanks so much for commenting and for being vulnerable. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of us could just get together and talk? It’s so good to hear others’ stories and to know that even if it’s not okay today, here on this unredeemed planet earth, at least it will be someday. But I’m not that optimistic everyday. It helps to know I’m not alone. Thanks again.

  2. I know I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but thank you for sharing this.

    My mom is bipolar. She’s a bit different than most though, because she’s “normal” most of the time. She just has six-month to year-long episodes where she will be manic for the first half, and then depressed the second. Usually this happens when something particularly stressful or exciting has happened in our lives. It used to occur once every 10 years or so, but it has been happening significantly more frequently over the last five years.

    She just recently fell into another episode and I drove home for my parent’s house crying last night – struggling over similar ideas to what you wrote above.

    When she’s manic, she’s simply not my mom. In some ways it’s like she just keeps dying every time she goes manic, because for a few months each time, she’s gone. And for where I am right now in life – she’s my closest friend when she’s normal. I’m a single, 21-year old college graduate living by myself and working at a coffee shop. The vast majority of my friends have recently gotten married or moved away. I have no community and no one to hold me when I’m down. Except my mom.

    I’m scared it’s going to keep getting worse and more frequent, and scared that someday I won’t have a mom to call to help with my kids either.

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