I think that we have established that our relationship is an interesting one. As a baby, or even a child, I couldn’t tell if I was a Daddy’s or a Momma’s Girl—but if I had to guess, I was probably an Oma’s Girl. I don’t have too many memories of you from my baby years, which is totally ridiculous, since you’ve always been present. Maybe it was the fact that Brianna needed a lot more attention than I did, or you were too consumed with the lives of everybody around you, or I was an independent kid, or I just have horrible memory. I wish I remembered more than Saturday mornings at BJ’s, singing [horribly] along to music in the car, weekend trips to Aunt Linda’s house, breakfast on Sundays, and sneaking into your room late at night, so I could watch Friends with you.
Everything else is basically a blur up until you and Dad separated. When Dad moved into Oma’s house, our relationship changed dramatically, and after all these years, I’m still not sure if it were a good or bad thing for me. For one thing, you became a different person in my eyes: flawed, broken, human.
Thinking about it now, I think a child shouldn’t have to see their mother in such a fragile state. But back then, all I could do was be there for you. What is so weird is that at the time, I never saw either you or dad as The Bad Guy, but for some reason, I felt so much worse for you than with him. It’s probably because you’re such an emotional person, and Dad just…isn’t.
But I stood by you. I was the person you told everything to, even things I never thought a mother would tell a daughter. You became less like a mother in my eyes, and more like a friend. We spent a lot of nights in your room, talking and crying and watching soap operas together. And I wonder if our relationship then is a big reason why I think of you the way I do.
When I left to move into Oma’s house, our relationship changed again—but that time, it felt like it was irrecoverable. My plan wasn’t to leave in spite of you—it was because my teenaged brain thought it would be best if we had more space. If you had more space and food in the house, and if I had the space I needed as a teenager. I felt like you were holding me on a leash too short to let me be myself.
When I lived in your house, I felt like I had to be another parent for Caitlyn and Heinrich, and I didn’t want that for myself. I didn’t ask for that. I wanted to be a kid, and hang out with my friends, and do stupid things, and grow up. I couldn’t do that living with you, because I felt like a bad daughter.
I never thought that leaving would end up making matters worse.
The time that we spent away, when you were so angry at me and Brianna for leaving, I was depressed. Part of me felt free because I was finally able to see friends outside of school, but I spent a lot of my time crying over the fact that you didn’t want to see me because I left. Funny thing is, I had a reason to leave for years; I talked to Dad about it for years. But the day I walked out, it was out of anger and frustration. It was an impulse move that made me hurt you so bad.
I don’t know if you realize that leaving hurt me almost as much as it hurt you. And I realized early on that leaving didn’t hurt you the way that you hurt when you and Dad separated. Instead, it broke you. I, a seventeen-year-old girl, had to live with the fact that I broke my mom.
And as much as I love you—and I really do, more than you could ever realize—more than anything, I felt bad for you. Because of what I had done to you, because your marriage failed, because you felt like a surgery to lose weight would have saved that marriage, because none of your kids stayed by your side, and especially because you felt like you needed a man to make you happy. And despite anything horrible you’ve ever said to or about me, I was still protective of you.
I am grateful that as time went on, we’ve grown to have a relationship again. Granted, it won’t ever be the same kind of relationship that we used to have, but I’m happy to have one at all. It almost feels normal again.
I’m sorry about our past, and that we didn’t patch things up earlier. I understand that you needed the time and space, and I gave you just that. I think I needed it, too, but probably not as much as you did. I can’t apologize for moving out, but I am incredibly sorry for breaking you. In the end, it was, by far, the most selfish thing I have ever done. I don’t think that it’s something that you will ever get over, but I also think it’s something that I can’t get over. Only time will tell.
I’m not just here to say I’m sorry; I also wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being my best friend when I was fragile, and for letting me into your grown up world. Thank you for bringing me into this world, for bringing me into a large, insane, amazing family, and for giving me some great people for siblings. Thank you for never sending me home empty-handed. Thank you for giving me a love and appreciation for movies and musicals. Thank you for putting me into dance classes, because if it weren’t for you, I probably wouldn’t have found a passion for art. Thank you for always being my dance partner, and giving me a love for all kinds of music. Thank you for supporting my dreams, no matter how crazy they are. Thank you for the roof over the house that built me, and the food that grew me. But, most of all, thank you for loving me—despite everything we have been through, and unconditionally.
And lastly, because we can’t end anything without saying it, I love you. I love how despite everything that we’ve been through, we make time for each other. I love that you let me back into your world, and that you are interested in mine, without trying to direct it. I love that you treat me like an adult, but you still check up on me and make sure I’m taking care of myself, when I’m sick. I love that you’ve given me a deep love and appreciation for older music, and that you will dance to literally anything—even silence. I love how you were always the loudest whistle after every dance recital, and always the loudest mom on the baseball field. I love that you don’t let anybody change you, and I especially love that through all phases of life, no matter how blissful or shitty it gets; when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I know you’ll dance.
Prompt: Write a letter to one of your parents; if you never met the one you chose, write what you would want to say to them.