Karen Swim

Writer, Marketer, Woman of Purpose

The Psalm of the Un-Mother

A baby was born. As I genuinely celebrated the wonderful joy of new life and family, I could not control the pang of heartbreak that momentarily shot through my soul. I listened as they extolled the addition of another to the family tree and the blessings of multiple generations, smiling as parents, grandparents, and great grandparents marveled at the expansive family tree. As their hearts swelled with pride at multiplying and filling the earth, I thought of my own meager field of one. As the other branches of my family tree spread wider and richer with fruit, my own branch was empty and forlorn like the old tree by the window disrobed for the winter season. Yet my joy for this precious baby’s entrance into the world was as real as my sadness that I would never be a parent.

I have learned to live with the duality. I do not spend days in constant mourning over my childless state but the grief sneaks up on me at times, grabs me by the heart and demands to be acknowledged. In the same way that an unexpected moment ushers in a fresh wave of mourning for those I’ve loved and lost, the child that never was is also a loss. The baby girl or baby boy that never formed in my womb is a part of my history, woven into the tapestry of my heart as securely as my mom and husband. I never birthed, held or nurtured this not born child but my love for what could have been is no less real.

In silent prayer I seek the comfort of my savior, curling up in His wide open arms transforming from wounded un-mother to child of grace. In His presence silent tears free my heart and allow me to give thanks for a heart that can love, mourn, celebrate and yes nurture. Children are a blessing but I know in truth that each of is solely responsible for the legacy we lead. With or without children how my life is remembered and the impact I make rests squarely on my shoulders. My heart fills with a fresh store of love and grace ready to spill upon my own field. While I am not a mother, I can love with a mother’s heart. I can comfort in the storms, issue words of encouragement and praise, teach valuable lessons and listen with a tender ear.

I turn my attention back to the present with an inward smile, thankful that though not a mother I have a Father who loves me unconditionally.


August 15, 2011 Posted by | Personal Essay | 9 Comments