People Are Revealing The Eye-Opening Moment When They Realized Their Mom Was “Just A Girl” And I’m So, So Emotional

People Are Revealing The Eye-Opening Moment When They Realized Their Mom Was “Just A Girl” And I’m So, So Emotional

Kids know their mothers for their entire lives, but for mothers, kids are only part of theirs. It’s easy to only see your mom as “Mom” and not think about the lives they had before entering motherhood, but sometimes, all you need is a small reminder for the realization to settle in. Recently, BuzzFeed Community members shared with me the stories that reminded them that their mom was once “just a girl,” and they’re so powerful. Here are some of the most eye-opening and emotional responses:

1.“The first time I saw my mom as ‘just a girl’ was when we saw Blondie and Pat Benatar in concert together. My mom had a few drinks and was dancing like a teenager. I saw a fire in her I’d never seen before. That night made me realize that, yes, she should have gone to see Green Day with me four years prior.”

People Are Revealing The Eye-Opening Moment When They Realized Their Mom Was “Just A Girl” And I’m So, So EmotionalPeople Are Revealing The Eye-Opening Moment When They Realized Their Mom Was “Just A Girl” And I’m So, So Emotional

2.“I distinctly remember looking through photo albums with my mom as a kid and seeing all the photos of her as a teenager. I don’t know how old I was, but I do remember seeing a picture of my mom when she was about 18, with long, permed hair and a sparkly blue top on. I was so used to seeing her dressed very practically with her hair in a pixie cut, so I thought she looked SO pretty in the photo. Don’t get me wrong, my mom has always looked great, but I was taken completely by surprise by ‘Jazzy ’70s Disco Mom,’ and that was the first time I really thought of her as a person who’d had a whole life before me.”

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3.“I watched my mom deal with my grandmother’s dementia and saw so much pain in her as she realized her mother would never be the loving person she always wished for. I’d learned how to treat my grandma with tenderness and love, but she would get so agitated whenever my mom visited her at the nursing home. Whenever I saw her, my grandma was happy to see me and even went as far as to tell everyone that I was her daughter. I can’t imagine how that made my mom feel.”

Three generations of family engage in conversation, with a child, elderly woman, and middle-aged woman seated indoorsThree generations of family engage in conversation, with a child, elderly woman, and middle-aged woman seated indoors
Daniel Balakov / Getty Images

4.“My mom’s father was in the military, so they moved all over America and beyond. She lived in almost every Southern and East Coast state, France, Germany, Korea, and more. One time, we were on vacation in this little coastal town, and my mom found this shop full of cute things she’d had when she lived in Korea. She told me about this shop she called the ‘Purple Store’ near the army base in Korea that she always visited. Seeing her so happy, pointing out all the stationary, stuffed animals, and trinkets she remembered buying when she was a child, made me feel like I was with that 10-year-old American girl, excited to spend her allowance at the shops on Sunday, far from home but happy as can be. That’s when I realized my mom was just a little kid once, too. And you’d better believe we went on a shopping spree! The look on her face recounting all those old memories was priceless.”

—Anonymous

5.“I always knew my mom’s life was rough growing up. She was the youngest of 10 kids, and her father died when she was only 15. One year, my daughter gave her a book to fill out all her memories as a child and young woman. A year later, I visited my mom and saw the book empty. I asked her why that was, and she said she didn’t want to remember any of her past years. It was then that I realized she was ‘just a girl’ and that she never had the chance to dream about any choices in her life. That hurt my heart and made me love and respect her even more.”

Woman smiling, holding open photo album with assorted family picturesWoman smiling, holding open photo album with assorted family pictures
Jgi / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

6.“I was 13, and it was a couple of months after my dad died from cancer. I walked into our home office; the lights were off, and my mom was hunched over in the desk chair, crying. That was the first time I’d ever seen her cry. She always did it when my brother and I weren’t around. I didn’t know what to do, so I just went and hugged her. As I continued growing up, I also saw ‘the girl’ in happier times. Seeing photos of my mom when she was younger — before she went to medical school — as a dolphin trainer in Texas and wildlife handler at an adventure park in Mexico was amazing. Now that my brother and I are grown and she’s cutting back from work, I’m starting to see that adventure spirit reemerge.”

—Hannah, 26, Scotland

7.“My moment was when I saw a picture of my mom before she went to prom. She had this pink dress on, and her hair was dark and permed. What really hit me about the photo, though, was how nervous and self-conscious she looked. She was just a kid back then. It broke my heart looking at that photo.”

Woman in a sleeveless red dress posing for a photo; part of a series of personal photographsWoman in a sleeveless red dress posing for a photo; part of a series of personal photographs
Yellowsarah / Getty Images

8.“About 15 years ago, my super proper, perfect, considers ‘fart’ to be a swear word mother found out I’d smoked pot. Instead of giving me the lecture I’d been terrified was coming, she told me to find some so we could smoke it together. It was amazing. She told me how, in her 20s, she and her friends would put towels under the door jams and close their chimney, then invite, like, 10 of their closest friends over to smoke in her little house. She had TONS of stories, and they just came spilling out. It was the best night.”

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9.“When I told my mom about my infidelity (in my 30s), she opened up about hers. She and my dad remained married until he died. Their marriage wasn’t perfect, but they were an example of forgiveness and what it meant to love a person unconditionally, crappy decisions and all. Not that that experience is how everyone will respond to infidelity, but in their case, it worked out, and they still considered each other as best friends. It made me see that my mom was someone who could see me in my hurt and shame and relate to me in a way you wouldn’t expect to be understood when you’re ‘the other woman.’ She didn’t condone my actions, but she didn’t show me contempt, either. She saw me at that moment and let me see her in a way I hadn’t been able to see before.”

Adult and child sitting closely, the adult seems to be in a supportive or comforting roleAdult and child sitting closely, the adult seems to be in a supportive or comforting role

10.“My mother has a lot of mental health issues and spent my childhood taking them out on me. But the day my aunt — my mom’s sister — told a very young me that their father hated having daughters really opened my eyes. All the things I’d felt every time my mother said she ‘wished she’d never had me’ are the things she felt when her father said the same things to her. As I got older and learned more about mental illness, I realized she was likely dealing with mental issues that a boomer from the south would never acknowledge. It didn’t and never will excuse her treatment of me, but I can still hold empathy for the miserable little girl she must have been. Neither one of us deserved the childhood we had.”

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11.“I realized it when we were planning my wedding. I was only 21 but graduated from university early and was moving to the opposite coast. Basically, I had my mom’s dream wedding. She was really sick in the hospital when she married my dad; only six people were there to attend. But when my mom was helping me plan, it turned out really well, and we didn’t fight once. I am so glad she got to experience what she couldn’t have.”

Couple standing at a church entrance, man in suit and woman holding flowersCouple standing at a church entrance, man in suit and woman holding flowers
Jena Ardell / Getty Images

12.“Not my mom, but my grandma. She’d always been full of piss and vinegar, but she was always just an old lady. Every day, she played Yahtzee with my grandpa at lunch, had dinner ready at 5:30 p.m., then watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. A few nights a week, she went to play bingo. Then, one day, she was cleaning out her closet and gave me this beautiful dark purple suede skirt she’d made when she was a single woman living and working in San Francisco. I had no idea. The stories that came out of that closet clean-out gave me a whole different view of my beloved grandma and helped me understand just how she got so tough.”

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13.“I once found a men’s class ring in my mom’s jewelry box. When I noticed it wasn’t my dad’s, I teased him and asked if he was jealous that Mom had kept an old boyfriend’s ring. He replied, ‘Not really, because he passed away.’ Later, my mom told me the ring had belonged to her college boyfriend, who was killed in a car accident in the ’70s. She said the first time she heard Queen was from a record playing in a dorm room down the hall from hers. A guy was in the dorm, so my mom walked in and asked who he was listening to. Apparently, he had a knack for picking up on artists who would go on to be huge. That guy turned into my mom’s college boyfriend.”

Person placing a vinyl record on a turntable, highlighting the nostalgia of music in parentingPerson placing a vinyl record on a turntable, highlighting the nostalgia of music in parenting

14.“When my mom passed, I started going through her things. I learned so much about her. I found her journals and realized how much her divorce and the loss of her sister and mom really affected her. She hid a lot of it from us. She never got her dream of going to Disneyland and meeting Buzz and Woody, either. We were going to take her, but then COVID happened. She was so excited — the most excited I’d seen her be in years. I wish we could have gone together. I miss her so much, and I regret not getting to know who she was before she had kids. I only saw her as ‘Mom’ and not anything else.”

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15.“My parents divorced when I was two. Despite my dad calling my mom names every chance he got while I was growing up, my mom never spoke ill of him. It wasn’t until I was older and struggling with my dad being a money-controlling, emotionally abusive narcissist that I realized that my mom had to deal with his behavior first. She was married to him for 10 years before having me; she was 19, and he was 30 when they got married. He tore her to pieces for years, then sued the hell out of her, claiming she was ‘unfit’ to be a mother when they got divorced. My mom went through that alone. I’m 24 and can’t imagine going through what she did at such a young age.”

Parent and child smiling on a ledge with a Ferris wheel in the background. They exhibit a close bondParent and child smiling on a ledge with a Ferris wheel in the background. They exhibit a close bond

16.“My mom bought me a Mother’s Day present when I am, in fact, not a mother. When I asked her why, she said, ‘I don’t have my mother anymore.’ It made me realize how much daughters miss their mothers, regardless of age.”

—Amanda, 27, Indiana

17.“When we were going through my mom’s college photos, she excitedly narrated the backstories behind each one. She spoke of the holidays she went on and the volunteering she used to do with her huge group of medical college friends. She looked so young! For a long time, I saw my mom as this authoritative figure. But being older than she was in those photos, I recognize that she’d sacrificed her education, family, and friends to move across the earth for marriage. She had a whole life before marriage and had the potential to pursue a prestigious career, but instead, she started from scratch in Australia to build a life for her own family. It is extremely satisfying watching my mom act like her young self again, as she is beginning to realize that she can, in fact, still live as she did in her stories.”

Two individuals posing cheek-to-cheek in swimwear, making playful expressionsTwo individuals posing cheek-to-cheek in swimwear, making playful expressions
Jena Ardell / Getty Images

18.“My grandparents were never around for my mother and her siblings. My grandma was always leaving the house and cheating on my grandpa, so my mom and her siblings were often left alone with their father, who didn’t really give the love children deserve. My mom, uncle, and aunt pretty much grew up by themselves. But while my sister and I were growing up, our mom gave us as much as possible. She told me that when she was a young girl, she never got to play with dolls, have a dollhouse, have a pet, or anything of that sort, so when she pointed out this cute doll set at Target, I bought it for her. Her face lit up. When she said, ‘My mom never bought things like this for me,’ my heart broke. I’m learning how to heal my mom’s inner child and mine; though it’s really heavy sometimes, it’s worth seeing her smile. I’m so grateful I can now provide my mom these tiny bits of love and ensure she’ll never go or feel unloved again.”

—Anonymous

19.Last but not least: “My moment happened when I was in high school, a couple of years after my dad died. You would have thought watching my mom grieve for her husband would have been when I realized my mom was ‘just a girl,’ but it was actually when she was going on her first date after my dad’s passing. She looked at me all nervous and asked if she looked okay. It hit me then like a bag of bricks: my mom was insecure and scared. She wasn’t just my stoic mom who fixes everything — she was just a girl nervous to go on her first date in 25 years. Just a girl like me. But yeah, you looked fabulous, Mom.”

Woman sitting, adjusting hair, in a casual striped top and long skirt, in a room with vintage decorWoman sitting, adjusting hair, in a casual striped top and long skirt, in a room with vintage decor
Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images

If you’re a bit misty-eyed after reading these powerful stories, you’re definitely not the only one. If you’ve ever had a moment when you realized your mom was once “just a girl,” let me know in the comments, or you can anonymously submit using this form.

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