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


  1. Accidental posting or otherwise, I do appreciate this essay, Writer. Keep Smiling.

    Comment by NoNetTennis | August 15, 2011 | Reply

  2. Karen, I’m afraid words are failing me other than to say this is beautiful, and moving, and searingly true, but more than that, please know you make such a difference through the way you are, your kindness and generosity and good grace. I am once more deeply glad to have you as my friend, but also wish you were just a wee bit closer so I could give you a hug!

    Comment by Joanna Paterson | August 15, 2011 | Reply

    • Oh Joanna, your words spoke volumes, in them I heard the embrace of friendship, the soft notes of understanding and the resounding cheer of the writer’s coach urging me to keep taking steps to find my voice. I am deeply glad that you are my friend and cannot wait for the day when I can hug you in person. Karen x

      Comment by karenswim | August 15, 2011 | Reply

  3. Karen,

    Beautiful and touching words. Know that your impact on everyone who reads your words is profound, and you are creating a marvelous legacy.

    Comment by Lillie Ammann | August 16, 2011 | Reply

    • Oh Lillie, bless you for those powerful words of encouragement. Sending huge hugs your way.

      Comment by Karen D. Swim | August 16, 2011 | Reply

  4. Hugs from one fierce childless mother (not an oxymoron) to another. And thanks for the gift of your words.

    Comment by texasconnie | August 16, 2011 | Reply

    • Big huge hugs back Connie! Thank you for the gift of your enlightening words.

      Comment by karenswim | August 16, 2011 | Reply

  5. Didn’t realize when I posted that I was signed in as TexasConnie … but you knew who it was anyway. 🙂

    Comment by texasconnie | August 16, 2011 | Reply

    • Your tiara is never hidden from my view, no matter what title you use. 🙂

      Comment by karenswim | August 16, 2011 | Reply

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