A note on one of my mothers

You weren’t there. That’s just a a fact of life, not necessarily a blame. You were there for about 2 years, I’ve figured from the grains of truth in family stories. I uncovered part by part, the tragedy of what followed my birth. Your mental health, or lack of it and bravery of my dad. It could’ve worked, but you were young, and I don’t even want to remind you of that. I was born, loved and probably accepted. Until one day I was without a mother and cried. A big mess of a noodle haired toddler. I imagine I got used to it pretty quick. My doctor things it makes me nearly fall into BPD.

This isn’t a post about forgiveness, not one about moving on. It points out what life is like. I grew up without a mum. No female role models, although I enjoyed girly things like barbie dolls and pink things. My dad dressed me more “functionally” which in reality meant long fights in shoes shops. We used to lie down and listen to music loud together- that was fun. We had many special days, of going out for pizza, to the lake or the cinema. But he’s not my mother, and that makes me less of a feminist. Because I have a positive mother figure, and through childhood trauma associate female lead with doom, and deception.

Please understand my abandoned toddler brain, or my child brain when this big lipped monster called a mother came to our house once a year and demanded a kiss. After a bit, she’d start turning up with a new toddler, and I kept wondering why I wasn’t good enough for her to keep. Always trying to make a show, she’d come one time with a soft doll imitation from the corner shop. Another time, I asked my dad if he could make her go away. My mind was split- this was undeniably my mum, I had her high cheeks, slavic lips and trashy hair – but I didn’t know her, and she knew even less about me and what I like. One day she took me away for a sleep over, and it was all okay apart from being unable to sleep in the night, feeling extremely out of place and lonely, every light became an alien, and every phrase I said that day felt painful to my shiest 8 year old brain.

Then we moved away, and felt completely free, but to this day she still tried approaching me online and spreading heroin and bi-polar induced lies about what had happened and how much she loves me. Taking the place of a bestie or awkward American aunty, showing me and my talents off to her friend’s as if she had put any effort into my upbringing. Sometimes she insisted on seeing me, and prying on some of my family members’ naivety. When I came on holiday to Poland she’d just appear one day, and all the stomach sickness and shakes came back.

I don’t like my mum.

There’s too much expectations, and not enough in return. Too much openness and too little compassion. She speaks frantically, expecting a text back instantly with full honesty. Manipulatively asking “but you won’t do ….. will you?” Trying to force you to agree with her, but also be fully yourself and stand up for what you believe.

It’s complicated. I wouldn’t even pray about it anymore. Perhaps I should have already gotten over her, but I don’t understand this relationship very well at all. Hence the mixture of words of this post. She smelt like dust, vanilla and hairspray, that’s what I can remember and cannot stand this scent to this day.

When I still lived in Poland, in a block that was a minute’s walk away from my semi-distant cousin, I was walking back from school early in spring. The said cousin, chewing on a strawberry lace along side her two number one fans had said “you’re mum was just at my house speaking with mine, I think she just left” and I don’t know why, I ran. I ran to the bus stop my intuition thought she took. then I ran up and to my cousin’s house to follow the path she could have had taken. I still don’t know why. I guess she was my mum. All this in the cover of post communism. Pastel blocks, outdoor markets near the gp, fresh playgrounds and those thin young trees.

I’m only observing.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it. I thought I never really felt it properly, this lack of a mother, because I literally grew up without the idea of one and it never really got in my way. Apart from the pitiful stares I got during those plays for mothers day at nursery and school. It’s ok, my dad used to come instead.

For now my poetry pamphlet only had 3 full poems mentioning her.



  • Ano Nora

    I absolutely love the way the narrative flows, each paragraph had small sprinkles of poetry creating a beat and pulse in your words. You’re incredibly strong willed to have the ability to convey your passions, confusions and life tribulations in such a creative and poetic way. Thank you for sharing. <3

  • Shan

    You are so brave love, an inspiration.

    It is so hard: on one hand you feel dedicated to think about them, and feel some sort of guilt or relief in passing thought, but the other, is completely void. Nothing to relate to bar the half remembered, biased personal accounts. You try and piece these two parts, settle in some understanding, besides themselves creating a ‘you’ that not even you can understand. Only just to try place them together in the hope, one day it’ll make some sense.

    Courage and love sent.

    • Alicja

      Thank you very much, it is this grey area of life that is most interesting to explore. I agree that we can but try and place the events and people that made us, together.

  • kal

    There’s so much sadness in this, how this flows from mind into words must’ve been wrenching.
    Family, love, blood, loyalty, such things can ruin us when we expect them all to be one of the same.
    But it’s not. We choose our family. Along with parents we expect this to be a norm.
    These things we’re always in two minds about…I feel relation to your story.

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