What It’s Really Like Growing Up Without a Mom

When I was a little kid back in the fourth grade, any mention of my mother would instantly activate my tear ducts and send me running.

“Why don’t you have a mom?”

“Why are you waiting on your dad, why doesn’t your mom just come pick you up?”

Or my personal favorite quote from my fourth grade English teacher: “Everyone has a mommy and a daddy.”

That one sent me straight to the bathroom stalls until the school sent me home for the day. I don’t even think I comprehended what happened, I think I just realized that after November 8th, 2008 my life was different than everyone else’s, and that was a terrifying thing for a nine-year-old to grasp.

Middle school was pretty much a blur, but I think that’s true for most people. The gravity of what happened didn’t seem to hit me until high school. The first day of high school was also the first day without my older sister. I was starting at a new school and so was she...hers just happened to be three hours away at college. The first day of high school and her first day of college was also the first day I ever had a panic attack.

I guess it really started affecting me in high school because of all the firsts. I had my first boyfriend. And I had no one to talk to about it. I had friends and my older sister of course, but there’s just something about a relationship between a mother and a daughter that nothing can ever come close to.

Following my first boyfriend, I had my first heartbreak. I had my first failing grade, my first friendship blowup, my first drink, my first hangover, lost my virginity, and got ghosted three days later. Left with what I saw as the only appropriate choice, I dealt with it all myself.

Clearly I was not an expert on dealing with my problems. I just figured if I didn’t have my mom to help with these things, then what was the point of going to my friends who wouldn’t ​really​ get it? With this mentality, keeping my friends close became impossible when all I did was push them away. Following a clear downhill trajectory, I finally hit rock bottom and needed an intervention. Without any close friends left, that responsibility was placed on my sister and my dad. Lucky for me, that’s just what I needed. Finally realizing that I still had family, whether or not it was in the form of a mother, was what pulled me out of the dark hole I had found myself trapped in. I don’t know what I would do without my sister now. Being four years older than me, she basically grew into a replacement mom, while also filling the best friend slot. Now that I’m ten hours away from her I text and call her everyday. She’s the rock I needed and found when I hit rock bottom.

Being a girl and having your only parental figure be a dad is tough, but he does a good job playing both roles. There are things I still feel like I can’t talk to him about, but it’s honestly pretty minimal. I call him and update him about my school work, my personal life, and all things boys every week. People with the classic set of parents might find it awkward, but he gives some pretty damn good advice on dealing with crushes, toxic relationships, or what to wear for a special occasion.

Now this isn’t an article on how my life is all rainbows and kittens, because I miraculously got over the death of a parent. It’s never really something you get over. It’s a learning process and everyone has a different learning curve. There are still days where I wish more than anything that I could talk to my mom about all my life problems and have her hug me and tell me everything is going to be okay. Mother’s Day is still and will always be my most hated holiday every year. I still find it hard to visit my friends’ families and see the interactions they get to have that will never be a possibility for me. 

I didn’t instantly jump from rock bottom to being okay, and I’m not ashamed that therapy and medication aided my recovery. My life is never going to be perfect, but then again what is a “perfect” life? There’s no objective or tangible definition and spending my time trying to find perfection would be a losing battle. My hope for the future isn’t finding a “perfect” life, but rather finding perfect little moments along the way. I may not have my mom to share those moments with, but every perfect moment is another reason to appreciate the life I still have and the life she would want me to live.


Image Credit: Wallpaper Flare