Mom, I Hope You Don’t Read This


Emily Ito, Senior Staff Writer

I receive a call around 11 a.m. while still lounging in my pajamas after sleeping through my first class. “Mother,” the screen reads. I contemplate answering it before silencing the ringer and returning to mindlessly scrolling through Instagram Reels. I should probably answer, but I don’t feel like being scolded for still being in bed. While proceeding to scroll, I keep seeing ads for monogrammed blankets and a bracelet that can hold a photo inside — purchases promoted with the tagline, “Great Gifts for Mom.” My feed is also littered with “Mom Appreciation Posts” and “Here’s your sign to call your mom.” 

Did the YouTube Shorts algorithm somehow see my 11 missed calls from my my Mom and decide it would be best to feed me guilt trips and “signs to do better”? Since when does a computer have the right to judge my decisions? What does a computer know anything about moms and daughters? Punk a– computer. 

I look at the date. 

Oh. Mother’s Day is on Sunday. 

While I do love and appreciate the woman who gave me life, I’ll admit I have a bit of a complicated relationship with my mother. What can I say? We’re both complicated women. For as long as I can remember, it’s been either love or war with my mom. She can be hot and cold, a bit unpredictable, and frankly, a little toxic. Nonetheless, I know her heart has always been well-intended. 

Looking back, my mom and I made terrible housemates, always bickering and fighting. After our nightly disagreement, I would kneel at the foot of her bed and beg her to forgive me while she remained silent, eyes glued to the television behind me. Regardless of who was really out of line or at fault, that was how almost every evening would end. The next day though, my mom would either forget about the argument or would pretend it never occurred. In lieu of closure or validation, I would often be showered with gifts and candy. As a 10 year old, it was a pretty good deal. 

I’ve realized having multiple housemates can be a great buffer for a volatile situation. Therefore, when my dad moved out during my sophomore year of high school, the tension between my mom and me really started to heat up. After two weeks, my mom and I got into a vile argument. I ended up packing my bags and moving in with my dad — a temporary change that ended up becoming a permanent decision. 

In retrospect, I do not regret my decision to leave. While we’ve gone through months of no contact and countless more fights, I realized how much more compatible we were when we had more distance. My departure to college and my 18th birthday were even better for us, altering the influence she has in my life and therefore, allowing our relationship to evolve. I can now have a relationship with her built on love and appreciation as opposed to obligation, which is a major shift in how our personalities are balanced and how I approach our interactions. 

I don’t want to seem cheesy, but I’ve learned to take note of my mental state before choosing to engage with her, realizing that I am much more likely to start snapping at her if I pick up the phone when I’m grumpy and stressed than if I waited to call her back when I am in a positive mood with the energy to chat. You might think me cruel, asking “What if she’s calling for an emergency?” Well, I’ve thought about that. I realized she calls me at least twice a day so it’s okay to not always pick up, plus I always listen to the voicemails she leaves and I respond to the texts she sends. 

I love my mom dearly but I recognize that setting boundaries with her has been important for my personal mental health as well as for the relationship I have with her. The truth is, sometimes the things she says can bum me out or make me feel bad. Sometimes she can kind of kill my vibe. Yes, she’s my mom and she has done so much for me, but at the same time, she is not always a positive energy to be around. 

Yet even with this understanding that some distance is the healthiest thing for me, old habits die hard, and I still feel guilty for ignoring her. I am constantly negotiating my conflicting feelings of obligation to my mom while also needing to respect myself. 

Every Mother’s Day brings about particularly complicated emotions on this matter. This Mother’s Day though, I’ve decided to approach it with a new mentality. 

I’ve decided that I can still respect my boundaries while demonstrating my appreciation for her motherhood and for how our relationship has evolved. This will be the first Mother’s Day I spend with her in years. This will be the first Mother’s Day where I will focus on and appreciate the wonderful things about my mom: her unhinged humor, her generosity, her undying maternal love, and her role in making me into the person I am today. She is a human being who has given so much of her life to be my mom, and for that, I can’t thank her enough. 

Mom, I kinda hope you’re not reading this, but if you are, Happy Mother’s Day! 

P.S. I’m sorry I called you toxic. :/ (I still love you though!!!). 


Image courtesy of Emily Ito of The UCSD Guardian