I am Not a Mother
Life,  step parenting,  stepmom

I am Not a Mother, BUT…

I am Not a Mother

The other day, once again, I was informed that I am not qualified to discuss how a mother handled her child in a highly publicized “situation” that made its way across television and computer screens all over the world. “We are qualified because unlike YOU, we are parents,” I was told.  The self-righteous indignation stung, yet she was right. I am not a parent. I have made no secret of the fact that despite marrying a man with kids, I don’t  feel qualified to claim the title just yet. Still, we have all walked our own journeys and no, I’m not a mother, BUT…

That night in New Orleans, it hit me like a freight train. Or a baseball bat, maybe. I turned around to see if someone or something crashed into me. In what felt like a split second I was hunched over in pain and immediately asking to be taken back to my hotel room.

The pain was inexplicable.

The rapid onset of weakness, worrisome.

In the bathroom the expulsion looked like pink tapioca marbled with traces of blood or maybe it was caviar. A fucking clot did this to me?! But I had never seen anything like it. Great. I’m thirty now. This shit is just going to get even worse.

Three days later in my doctor’s office I explained the feeling of having the wind knocked out of me, showed him the photograph of this blob-like foreign object and asked him if this meant my days of already existing misery during “that time of the month” were about to get worse.

Instead of answering me, his eyes while glancing at the photo grew somewhat large. “Oh. Ummm. Yeah. Hang on.”


“Let’s get some urine.” He grabbed a kit and a dropper.

Drop drop.

“Umm. Yeah.”

“Doc, you just said that.”

“I’m sorry. You had a miscarriage.”

Of course, I knew that wasn’t possible. I didn’t want to be a mother. I was on birth control. And besides, chemotherapy and what three forms of cancer did to my body meant I couldn’t get pregnant anyway. Right?

“That has to be a mistake.”

“It’s not.”

Pretending it didn’t bother me I asked, “So Doc, Will you finally tie my tubes now?”

I walked out, stunned. And with an appointment to finally have myself permanently sterilized.

The dysfunctional relationship in which I pretended to function unnerved me on the drive home. I knew I was wrong to be thankful. But I was. It was highly unlikely I could have ever carried a child to term. Yet being freed of a health risk was not the reason for my gratitude. The relief riddled me with guilt. Perhaps every so often it still does.

On what would have been close to my due date I dreamed of the most beautiful baby boy upon which I’ve ever lain eyes, closed or otherwise. His were the greenest I’d ever seen. He was perfect. I Loved him.

“Hi. It’s me, Jake. Don’t worry. It’s okay. I’m okay, mom.” Mom.

“Tell dad I said hi.” Dad.

I awoke wanting just a few more minutes with him. Just a few more. With someone I never had. Someone I never wanted… Come back, please.

Years later I became a STEPmother, a label which much of society deems the equivalent of an evil Disney character. I love children who aren’t “mine” per se. I provide for them. I worry for them. I have dreams for them. I want the best for them. I sacrifice. I get very little to no say. I am on the sidelines. And sometimes my existence in the kid’s lives doesn’t feel as though it matters very much. I hold out hope that this will change as soon we will no longer live 1,600 miles apart. A whole lot of hope.

I have walked a path that shouldn’t be required to qualify me worthy of a parenting discussion and I don’t have a special day of the year declaring this worth. No. I am not a mother, but… I am worthy.

Two days after my dream, I picked up the phone at 2am, the ex on the other end of the receiver apologizing if he had woken me. He was startled and explained he could not wait to call. He had dreamed of a baby named Jake…a perfect baby. With perfect green eyes…


  • Alison Freisz-Steward

    Thanks for sharing this…I love the way when you share a part of yourself it’s passionate, sometimes brutal and even sad, but always beautiful all at the same time. It’s what makes you the amazing, strong woman you are, mother or not.

  • Mary Vantil

    I’m very proud of you to share some very personal parts of your life, takes a strong woman to open up and share personal struggles, In my opinion you dont have to give birth to be a Mother, it takes a open heart for unconditional love, patience, understanding and respect for human life. Thanks for the post

    • Heather W

      Thank you, Mary. It was a very difficult post to write. I have never shared this with more than a handful of people. I am learning to expand my mind. My husband feels I play a ‘motherly role’, though I don’t quite see it yet. All in time, I suppose. 😉 Thank you again.

  • Lynne Childress

    Thank you for sharing this. People don’t know anyone’s story. For us to assume otherwise is foolhardy and also cruel. I love your honesty and your sharing of your life.

    • Heather W

      Thank you, Lynne. I agree with your use of the word cruel. Perhaps I took it too personally, but it was as though it was meant to be just that – cruel. Thank you for your kind words.

  • Aixa Wilson

    Sweet child of mine, I want to cry, how can “mothers” be so cruel. There are biological mothers that do not deserve to be mothers and should by law be sterilized. Grrrrrrr. It infuriates me that women can be so ignorant and cold hearted. My point: giving birth doesn’t make you a good mother, yes it makes you an egg donor, just like dead beat fathers that are sperm donors, terrrible fathers. A true mother is one who loves, cares, worries etc. and you fall into that category. My own grandchildren’s stepmother is a top notch bonus mom. She has taken care of those kids for over 10 years and loves them unconditionally and has a great relationship with my daughter, when my daughter got sick for a long time, or had issues with work related travel or moved or whatever she stepped in and took care and loved those children like her own. she never allows them to feel less loved than her own two. so my respect and admiration to both of you. You are worthy of the title “Mother” more than a bunch of irresponsible, abusive, booze drinking “biological mothers” out there. People just check out statistics in your neck of the woods. These so called mothers that say you are not qualified to discuss certain parenting issues need to do some research and evolve in their antiquated way of thinking. This is the good ol U.S. of A, so I’m entitled to my opinion. Heather, thank you for taking the time share your innermost feelings. love, mom.

    • Heather W

      Mom I know it hurts you for me and I know it shocks and saddens you people can be this way. As you know, my life’s mission has been to educate and spread awareness on topics that aren’t so easy. I am strong because of you and my father and while it stings, I know that there are those who are better than what I’ve sometimes received. Thank you for having my back. Love you.

  • Rona

    Remember, being a mother doesn’t always come from the entire body..the real place it comes from is the heart! and you have a big one, so I’d say you are a wonderful, caring mother!! Hugs!

  • Karen Hopkins

    Pain, guilt, relief, longing, dreaming, sacrifice, love, providing, worrying – all words you have used that ‘qualify’ you as a mother…Not that you should have to qualify yourself to others, but unfortunately many people will continue to think that you do. Hugs from one mum to another – we all need to support and encourage each other.

    • Heather W

      Karen, I think a mother gets to mother (and parent). I don’t get to do that, so I don’t feel like a mother. I so appreciate your kind words and support. You have no idea how much that means to me.

  • Amanda Evans (Odds & Evans)

    People don’t know how much their words can hurt. I’m sorry for your experience, but grateful for your honest, open sharing here. Your posts on here are clearly written by a wonderful mother (STEP in front of it, still has MOTHER there for sure). Thanks for linking up at MeetUp Monday, and hope to see you again next week!