Dating Magazine

Malfunctioning Mothers

By Polysingleish @PolySingleish

Mother’s day is hard for me.

Most people will assume it is because of the miscarriages, because of my children that never were. But it really isn’t.

I read so many loving sentiments from people celebrating their mom, and all the ways their mom has supported them. I don’t have one of those moms.

She and I used to be very close. And, many of my friends when I was growing up were envious that I had a mother who seemed to be so ‘cool’ and ‘open minded’.

As far as a role model goes, my mother was not a positive one.


My mother raised me as an outsider. She raised me with an ‘us versus them’ attitude. She translated the strict catholic upbringing of her childhood onto new age and yoga philosophy, turning sin into karma and righteousness into dharma. Homosexuality was one of the most vile things imaginable, and a sure sign that we were in Kali Yuga, the end of days. Heck, even sex was a source of disgust.

My parents had separate bedrooms for as long as I can remember. My mother was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome around the same time that my dad quit his job, and she suffered from it for at least seven years, during which I was her main care giver.

My dad was madly in love with her, but she wasn’t attracted to him- and nearly left him, taking me along. As a child and teenager observing this dynamic, I became the go-between. I often sacrificed my own needs to make sure that my parents were able to communicate. I also, right from the age of two, often sacrificed my own needs to look after my mother when she was sick, something no child should ever have to do.

Because my mother was not very social with other people, and I was an only child, I spent a lot of my childhood with one influence: her. There were only ever a few kids I would play with, and even then, their mothers seemed skeptical of my mom, the foreigner and hippy who wouldn’t let her daughter go to sleepovers, wouldn’t leave her daughter home alone, wouldn’t hire babysitters. It wasn’t until I was fifteen that I started to really learn how to interact with other people, and this is something that I still struggle with today.

We were watching some weekly television drama when I was about twelve years old, when my mother suddenly ordered my dad to “Turn the TV off, this is disgusting.” What was disgusting to my mother was the storyline being explored: two women in a romantic relationship with one another. It was the first time I had ever been exposed to the idea of homosexuality. I was hooked on the storyline, and found it so interesting. And immediately, was told that it was wrong.

All through my adolescence, that moment haunted me. It was bad enough that my mother had described sex to me as something disgusting; when I started to have feelings of lust for my female friends, they were quickly followed by immense self-hatred. because of the messages she had given me about it. Most of my life has been spent in a yo-yo with depression, and the more I look at it, the more I dig down into the dirty, muddy, forgotten corners of my past, the more I realize that this depression originates in being so thoroughly sexually repressed my whole life.

I get that she was probably trying to protect me. She had been sexually abused by a family member when she was young, and physically abused by her own mother. But, this doesn’t excuse what she did. What I received from her was another kind of abuse. A mental conditioning that caused a huge war within my psyche, a war that has left its scars and that still affects me to this day.

Rather than educate me about being sex positive, about how to say no, about how to recognize what is appropriate and what is not, I was told that it was all bad karma. “Living your life from your root chakra you will never achieve enlightenment.” There was this gross physical act that you can do with someone you want to make a baby with, and that was it. She filled my head with stories of saints who were chaste, with stories of love that was spiritual only. She lectured me with fire and damnation the first time I was late coming home after a date. She drove the fear of god into me when she caught me masturbating.

I hate that I still hear her voice inside my head sometimes after I’ve had sex. That inner voice of judgment that makes me shut down from the people I love to be intimate with.


Coming out to my mother as bisexual and polyamarous was one of the most nerve wracking moments of my life. The judgements that came out of her mouth were hurtful, yet not surprising. I find myself thinking this morning, if I had not done that, if I had stayed quiet, she would still be in my life. We would probably have exchanged some cute animal pictures or something. But, I would still be repressed. I would still be in a relationship with her where I was guiltified into doing things for her happiness. I would still be held by her expectations of her ‘perfect daughter’.

As it is, I choose to not include her in my life any more. I won’t even use the word ‘mom’ to describe her. I’m looking for an alternative to ‘mother’, and have started using her name when talking about her with people who know her.

Divorcing myself from her presence in my life has been one of the most liberating decisions in my life. It has been incredibly challenging, and today I have been peeling back another layer of this process.


So forgive me if I cannot get on board with those who are praising their perfect mothers on this mother’s day. I could go on and on about the ways in which my mother contributed to the issues I still work through to this day.

I’m inspired by the Moms I know around me. Moms who are home schooling, moms who are teaching their children all the languages they speak, moms who listen to their children, moms who allow their children to make informed decisions for themselves, and respect those decisions. Moms who nurture and support their children, without judgment. Who have conversations about different sexual orientations and gender identities with their children. You are the kind of moms whom I am honored to know. The kind of moms I wish I had had. If I am ever a mom, I hope to be one of you.

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