We spoke with one of our brilliant West Coast writers, Terran Pierola, about mothers and here is what we discovered.
What does mother’s day mean to you?
Terran Pierola: Mother’s Day is complicated for me, especially now. Me and my mother don’t speak. I haven’t seen her physically in almost three years now. It’s not really something I like to think about. Throughout the year, people will post quotes about Mothers– Reblog this if your mom is your best friend, or Like this if your mom is the strongest person you know– Stuff like that; and it makes me sad because as much as people think it’s universal, it’s not.
Even before me and my mom stopped being in each other’s lives, Mother’s Day was the anniversary of the day that our house got broken into and robbed. It was one of the scariest and most invasive feelings I’ve ever felt- knowing someone was in my home, in my stuff, my space- like nowhere was safe.
And now, Mother’s Day is just a reminder that all the things everyone expects a Mother to be to her child, my mother isn’t. After 20 years, I finally realized that I was enduring child abuse from my family, and mainly my stepfather, and my mom refused to validate me, protect me, and choose me.
Every day, she chooses him. I tried everything I could to make it work, but when it came down to it, I had no choice. I told her I couldn’t have her in my life if he was still in hers. She looks at me as if I’m this crazy, angry kid who needs help, but I’m not. I’m one of the strongest people I know. And I’m strong enough to know that she is weak, selfish, and not being true to herself in so many different ways. I’m strong enough to know that she let ME down, and continues to. Because I’m left with no parental figures– no one to truly be there for me no matter what.
And so every Mother’s Day, I guess I spend it trying to distract myself– from missing her, for blaming myself, for mourning the death of our relationship and the slow erasure of the person she truly is. I try to spend Mother’s Day not celebrating my mom, but celebrating the strength in me that it takes to stay away from her, and giving up my family.
When you think of your mom – what is the first memory that pops into your head? Can you elaborate on that memory?
TP: When I think of my mom, I think of how things used to be. When I was in high school, me and my mom were super close. I was her rock, and we would help each other from the suffocation of our home and the tyranny of my step dad. My favorite times would be those escape trips of ours– the brief ones through errands in the car. So when I think of my mom, it’s just like that. Us in the car grabbing food for dinner. Just 20 mins, really. But briefly, we were free.
What are you getting your mother on Mother’s Day?
TP: I’m not getting anything for her.
What is your relationship like with your mom?
TP: Right now, my relationship with her is to only speak to her if it’s necessary. And never through a phone call or in person. It’s been a little over a year now that I’ve finally gotten her to stop calling me or leaving me voice messages. We only text now, but it’s usually on my terms. I’ve told her never to contact me, but every now and then, she’ll slip and send me some kind of message. I only text her to coordinate gifts for my little brother– technically, my little, half brother– but that’s another story. I texted her on her birthday this year. Some years I don’t. But whatever I allow myself to do, I make sure to do it with consistency. Going back and forth with talking and not talking to her is just as confusing to her as it is painful for me, so I don’t let myself waver, even if I miss her horribly.
When was a time you really missed your mom?
TP: I always miss my mom. I miss having her always be proud of me, because I don’t have anyone in my life who makes me feel that way. I miss her during my period haha or when I watch certain movies or tv shows that has a plot line surrounding a single Mother/Daughter pair because we used to be that close; and even though she was married, she always felt like a single mother. I mean, my stepdad is an abusive, useless leech of a person, so yeah.
But mostly I miss her when I’m feeling the most alone, or lost.
When I feel like I’ve done nothing and am going nowhere.
I miss being in that car with her. I miss having a mom. Because– I forget.
I forget I have a mom, now.
It’s as if I’ve blocked it out.
That’s how bad it is.
And it’s sad.
Terran Pierola is genderfluid, queer boi. As a writer, editor, and a passionate activist for intersectional womxn of color feminism, Terran intends to help change the world through community building, radicalizing education, and institutionalizing inclusivity. Their interests and experience focus on creating easily accessible, supportive and educational resources for gender non-conforming, trans, and queer folks; and advocating for critical pedagogy in mainstream spaces. They graduated from UC Berkeley, and currently live in Los Angeles.