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To Call or Not to Call

by Kristin Mitchener

I started thinking about calling my mother two days ago. We haven’t spoken or seen each other in over 10 years. I called my younger sister instead, the wise sister who is able to set boundaries in order to keep our mother in her life.

“Well why do you want to call her?” she asked.

“I just feel like enough time has passed and people make mistakes in life. I can’t just not talk to her forever. I miss having a mom.” Interesting, I thought. I miss having a mom, just not necessarily our mom.

My sister told me, “Well, she’s going to cry a lot so be prepared for that. And mom is still mom. She’ll get mad at something I say and she’ll hang up on me and not talk to me for a couple weeks. Then call me and pretend like everything is okay.”

“I don’t want to deal with that.” My desire to call my mother disappeared as quickly as it first presented itself to me.

Until my mother can stop hanging up on her children—something she has infamously done our entire lives when we say or do something that doesn’t make her happy—I don’t want to open the door to phone conversations. Until my mother can maturely talk about something she doesn’t agree with instead of getting angry and withholding her attention from her children, I don’t want to open the door to phone conversations.

Until, until, until. I feel like I’m being too hard, too stubborn, too ungrateful…all traits my mother has called me since I was a young girl. I remember her great sense of humor, and I also remember the pure hatefulness she fed us. I remember her great advice when I felt depressed and lost. And I remember the mean mother messages I got from her. The most hurtful was that I’m not good enough, a message I carry with me and struggle with to this day.

As a person who battles depression, I have days I barely make it out of bed, days I don’t shower or brush my teeth or do any basic self-care. So the thought of having the added layer of making my mother happy, walking on eggshells so she doesn’t get angry, saying the right things so she won’t hang up on me is all too much to take on. I know countless motherless daughters who wish they could call their mother just one more time, and here I am choosing not to talk to mine.

Considering calling my mother comes and goes. I don’t know if it’s guilt or grief. The only thing I know for sure is I’m not ready to have my mother in my life.

Comments(6)

  1. Reply
    Cathy says

    I completely understand. My mother was emotionally absent with narcissistic tendencies. I loved her because she was my mother but I didn’t like her. I dreaded having to go to the house I grew up in for birthdays and holidays or anything. She left me empty and angry. When she died I grieved what should have been not that she was gone. I will be one of your facilitators at the retreat in December. I look forward to meeting you. Feel free to email me.

    • Reply
      Kristin says

      I’ve never met anyone, or at least I didn’t know at the time, who had an emotionally absent mother with narcissistic tendencies which is what I face with my mother. I understand the dreading of going home – our home, especially as a child, should be sacred. It will be very nice to meet you and I will take you up on your offer to email you 🙂

  2. Reply
    Bette Resis says

    You said it yourself…….I miss having a mom in my life, not necessarily mine…….I am so sorry you have to deal with this…..your mom does not sound mentally healthy….& I hope you are getting help for your depression & the abusive things she has said to you……If you do decide to call your mom, I hope you speak to a professional first so that she can guide you thru it…….Your mom is not going to change, but you can set boundaries with her if you are up to the task…..Good luck & bless you as you try to come to a decision……

    • Reply
      Kristin says

      Boundaries – the dreaded “B” word! You are so right. And at this point in my life, I don’t yet have the tool to set strong boundaries with her. I do see a therapist once a week and have consistently for the past few years which helps tremendously – I highly recommend counseling to motherless daughters. You make a good point about having my therapist guide me through it, once the time comes (if it does). Thank you for your support in reading and commenting.

  3. Reply
    Penny Cescp says

    Kristen, your post will help so many women. Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      Kristin says

      Penny, thank you for your kind words. I was hesitant to submit this blog post because I didn’t want it to sound like I was just harping on my mother. It’s a fine balance, I’ve found, in expressing through writing the emotional absence I experienced without feeling guilty for expressing it. It’s good to know this post will be helpful. Thank you for your kind comment.

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