Grieving the Parents I Never Had

I have this picture in my mind of what parents are supposed to look like. Yes, it is a little bit Norman Rockwellian, but that’s how I see it. There is a dad who works and supports the family. There is a mom who maybe works or maybe stays home full-time to take care of the house and family. As a kid, this was the stereotype I looked up to and wished I had, but as luck would have it, I was born into a dysfunctional family with a single mom and an absent father.


I am not responsible for what happened to me as a child, but I am 100% responsible for what I do about it as an adult. So, here I am dealing with it as an adult.

My parents divorced when I was a baby, after my mom found out my dad was cheating on her while she was pregnant. After six months of age, I never really had a father.

My dad died in 1997, just a few weeks after I saw him for the last time at my brother’s wedding. He was absent most of my life, but we danced and talked that night at the wedding and had a great time together. The next morning I woke up and he was already gone, true to his style. I never saw him again. I think I only saw him a handful of times in my life before that.

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Here is the last family picture taken. 1997.

My mom is still alive, but she is essentially not in my life because of mental illness. I am grieving a living loss because she is still alive, but it is impossible to have a relationship with her. I want one, and she wants one too, but we are down to weekly emails and even those don’t go so smoothly most of the time. Talking on the phone is very stressful, and visiting in person takes a lot of work on both sides.

I have this picture in my head of what married parents are supposed to look like yet, it’s not what I’ve ever experienced. Perhaps that is why my life is the way it is. My husband works, I work part-time at home tutoring math, and I care for our kids and our house full-time. I am trying to create something I never had, yet want more than anything else. It is fulfilling and rewarding just as much as it is stressful and trying, but it is what I think a household should be like. Maybe I create my life the way I think it SHOULD be instead of based on my experiences.

My mom is so difficult to deal with. She has been diagnosed with depression, OCD, and borderline personality disorder. Look all of them up, and you will see that this combination presents a major challenge to all those who love her and care about her. Her illness is like an elephant in the room, but if we talk about the elephant everything goes bad. And when things go bad, we don’t talk, so we don’t talk, and then the elephant becomes something that we talk AROUND and never address. So, the problem itself never gets solved or dealt with. It’s just a game of “I have my cards and you have your cards.” And that’s it, deal with it.

I don’t like the cards I was dealt. I don’t know how to deal with it. It hurts me to my core that I don’t have parents I can to talk to, lean on, etc.

I do what I can to meet my own needs. I write my mom weekly emails and do my best to let her know what is going in our lives without engaging in her problems with her. It is difficult, but it is all I can do to keep a ‘relationship’ going.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!


7 comments on “Grieving the Parents I Never Had

  1. I was reading this and thought, “Wow. Kelly could really relate to this.” And then lo and behold, I see who commented first 🙂
    Susanne, I’m so sorry for those lost relationships and connections you have had in your life. I have every faith that you will use your experience in a way that positively benefits you and your family. xoxo

  2. Suzi, as I knew you as a young lady. This blog brought tears to my eyes. I was aware of part of you family history however not all. As you know I came from a great family scenario
    Mom stayed home until I was in 7th grade. My dad had a supporting career that took care of us all. Life has not always been honky dory.However you have accomplished a great deal in your life. You chose to travel ( meeting interesting people along the way) , have a college degree, raised and are raising beautiful children and an awesome husband. Be grateful yet thankful for all YOU have accomplished. Stay strong you are a wonderful person. You should not be hurting but live the rest of your life rejoicing . You deserve it. Now go have fun!

  3. Pingback: 25 Things About Me | Susanne's World

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