Happy Mother’s Day To My Mommy Issues


I interviewed her. It was the only thing we hadn’t tried. From my bed, safe on the opposite side of the world, in a different country and different timezone, I called my estranged mother from Skype, as not to be traced. I recorded our call.

Let’s talk about my childhood.

Life was hard. I was a mess back then. It was hard.

What was so hard?

We had just moved away from the farm, which was extremely hard. Opa [your grandfather] had just had a severe nervous breakdown. Like, it was huge.

Huge, how?

We were scared for all three of your lives. Opa was very sick back then.

What was he doing?

I can’t tell you everything.

I’m 25 now. You’ve said that my whole life.

Yes, but you idolized that man.

It doesn’t matter. I need to know the truth about where I came from.

Your Opa was a very sick man, Samantha. He was very abusive to Oma [your grandmother], really bad. He was threatening yours and your brothers’ lives.

He said he was going to kill us?

I don’t think you understand how sick your Opa was. It was bipolar he had. We had to move away from the farm, because we were scared for your life. I couldn’t sleep at night, because I didn’t know what Opa was going to do half the time. I didn’t know if he was going to kill us or what. It was not healthy. We moved away and that was hard on me. I idolized my dad. He was everything to me.

And six months after we moved away, your father got cancer. And you guys were all little. I was a stay at home mother. And six months after that, Oma died and then Aunt Anne died. That was a huge thing. Oma was my mom and she just died of a brain aneurism like that. This was all within a year. I was utterly exhausted. I was having a nervous breakdown.

What happened to you during that time?

I flipped out. I lost it.

How were you treating us?

Horrible. I neglected you. But I did the best I could with my state of mind. We moved away from the place I loved the most, because my father was mentally ill, then my husband gets cancer, then my mother dies, then my sister-in-law dies, then my husband has to have a career change. We almost lost the house. Dad and I went bankrupt. We had to declare bankruptcy. I didn’t know if we could live in the house. We couldn’t afford a haircut for anybody. Meanwhile, trying to put a meal on the table, there were times that I could only get groceries for $30 and there were five mouths to feed. It was hard as hell. Your father worked like a bloody fool. There was a year he didn’t have a job after his cancer, because he had to find a new career. It was not easy.

And then Uncle Tom died and the list, it just kept on going. It just kept on going. But you kids, you were fantastic. You didn’t know an ounce of how hard it was, because you played. You guys had the best imaginations and you were the best of friends together. We did the best we could.

But there were those other things I want to tackle that weren’t so good.


Remember in kindergarten, when the police came home with me because I told them what you did to me?

I knew that was going to happen.

Did that change things?

Oh yes. I got help. I’ll never forget the day. Because I remember, the school bus would come and as it was getting closer to the time you would get off the bus, I would get more anxious.

What were you doing to us regularly that made you so anxious?

I just couldn’t handle you. I didn’t have an ounce of sanity left in me. I was in a daze. I couldn’t handle day-to-day living with anything anymore. I couldn’t make a decision. I couldn’t provide. I was losing everything. Any order, I had none.

Did you notice any signs, besides the chaos, that I was struggling with it?

Not until later. I didn’t figure out that you were having a struggle until I’d say grade 11 or 12, when I figured it out.

So my whole life that I lived at home, you weren’t clued in?


So do I even know you?

Do you want to?

Answer the question. Do I know you?

I’m not that same person. You know me as a really bizarre person.

So do you understand why I’m angry with you?

I understand, because you know me as that.

Do you think you’ve ever truly been there for me?


I failed you. I know that.

I KNOW that.

But I can’t change that. I wish I could but I can’t.

You never even reach out to me to see if I’m okay.

I don’t know how to. Do you believe that? I don’t know how to with you.

That doesn’t make it okay. That was your job.

I know. I just don’t know how.

Neither do I.

You deserve better. You’re something I always wanted and I got it and I’ve never done anything right with.

Do you think you’re to blame for how things turned out between us?

At this stage of the game, not anymore. Before I did, but not anymore. You’re 25 now.

25 now. And here we are…

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