I Am a Motherless Mom


I am a motherless mom.

shadow of a mother and baby daughterMy mother was sick the entirety of the 8 years she was in my life. This led to frequent and often lengthy hospital stays until she passed away the summer before I started 3rd grade. 

A year later, my dad started dating a woman who I grew to love. After 2 years, an engagement, and construction on a new house, I thought I had a stepmom. I thought wrong. With no notice or goodbye, she left us. 

A few months later, I met the woman who, to this day, is my stepmom. She married my dad, a single dad of 4, having no children of her own. I was 11 then, and not at all receptive to her. She did the best she could, but I never let her get close to me. 

My mother-in-law is a busy woman who lives out of state. I do what I need to do to maintain contact with her. Our relationship is neither the typical idyllic mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship nor the toxic mother-in-law relationship that is so popular in the media. Our relationship is simply impersonal. This is neither of our fault, it just is. 

All of these women, in their own rights, have and continue to impact who I am as a mother. 

But when I need parenting advice? I call my Dad. Or my brothers. Because I trust them. They have been by my side my entire life. They have loved me through trauma, pain, joy, and success.

father and toddler daughter walking in the woods

There are limitations with having all men as my support and sounding board. As far as pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding go, as a motherless mom, I did not have a close, loving, experienced woman to guide me. Even before then, I learned about puberty, menstruation, and birth control alone. I didn’t know what I didn’t know until it was too late and then I had to figure it out myself. 

Throughout my life, every milestone had an undertone of grief.

When I won a spelling bee. When I scored my first hat trick in hockey, or the game-winning goal. When I graduated 8th grade and dressed up for the first time. The first time I was announced as the starting center for my varsity hockey team. My sweet sixteen. My first kiss. Graduating high school. My wedding. My children’s births. The list is endless. 

I don’t have a saved voicemail or text message, I don’t have a saved contact because she passed before the invention of cell phones. I don’t have a Google Photo album full of memories. I have five decades-old pictures of her that I received in my late twenties and a lockbox with a few items of hers. 

I want better for my kids. I want to be the best, most present, most loving mom they could possibly have. 

Occasionally though, I get tripped up by jealousy. I feel jealous of MY kids. They get the mom I never got or will have. They get warm, stable, unconditional love; a mother’s love. 

Seeing my children grow through the ages when I experienced my own traumas has opened my eyes to the innocence I was robbed of at such a young age. My children desperately need my love, comfort, and security. It makes me heartbreakingly aware that my mother wasn’t able to meet those needs for me. 

I was brought to tears watching a neighbor’s daughter, age 8, call out to her mom and run for a hug. I didn’t get to do that when I was 8. I still don’t get to do that now, at 32. Along with jealousy, grief and devastation resurface. 

Even though I don’t have my own mother to support me in my motherhood experience, I do have a village of mom friends and mentors who have taken time to help me along the way. My dad and brothers are also always ready to help, when they can. 

Being a motherless mom is a complex journey that sometimes feels like salt is being poured on old wounds. But giving my children a mother’s love is a gift of healing for my inner child’s broken heart. 

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  1. I lost my mom when I was 30 and before I got married or had my daughter. Motherless Daughters was a book gifted to me and helped me realize there is a whole unwanted but invaluable and tender sisterhood out there. Thank you for sharing your loss and it’s impact on you.

  2. I lost my Mom at 30 and to you, it’s your lifetime. I was so lucky to have her at all. At 67, I have been without her longer than I had her.
    Reading your article brings back the pain.
    It sounds like you compensated very well. You have done an amazing job of filling your huge void. Kudos to you.


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