Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

I was six months pregnant with my first child, a daughter, when her father shared he was expecting a baby with another woman. We were curled up in bed around my big belly.

“I have something I need to tell you,” Joe said.

“It’s Kim.” Kim, a woman he had been seeing at the time he and I began to consider rekindling our relationship after a year and a half apart. I had never met Kim, but I remembered him telling me about her. 

“She’s pregnant,” he said. 

I managed to hold it together fairly well through the night and into the wee hours of the next morning as he answered my questions: How long have you known? Have you been in contact with her? Is she positive it’s your baby? How far along is she? I urged him to get in touch with her, to make a plan. He needed to tell his family. 

Kim was also six months pregnant with a little girl. Our babies were due within one week of one another. As I felt my baby wriggling inside of me, I thought of Kim feeling her baby, my baby’s sister, wriggling inside of her. 

I woke up crying the next morning and it was hard to stop.

I felt ashamed to be in the situation and I longed for the ideals I had envisioned for the birth of my first baby. 

I didn’t know what Kim looked like and as my pregnancy carried on and I prepared for my baby’s arrival, I couldn’t help but wonder, with every round-bellied woman I saw, if one of their babies was Joe’s; if one of their babies was the sister of the baby inside of me.

Kim went into labor the night of my due date. Joe whisked off to the hospital while I stayed at home, collapsed onto my back, in bed, wrapped my arms around my enormous belly and rocked back and forth, choking on my tears.

Kim and I met when the girls were less than a month old. The first meeting was swift and friendly as she dropped off the baby for a visit. Over the years, she and I grew to support one another as mothers and a couple of times as women. My schedule was flexible, so I helped manage the girls’ schedules through the first 10 years, before Joe and I divorced. We put the girls in the same incredible school program in the first grade. Kim even covered for me, at times picking up the girls and their younger brother and sister that Joe and I eventually had together. Kim and I took the girls school shopping, we talked about orthodontic options, kiddo friendship challenges, and other aspects of motherhood. 

A couple of years after Joe and I divorced, he and Kim became a couple. As I came to terms with feelings of displacement (even though I had moved on), I couldn’t imagine a better stepmother for my children. There truly wasn’t anything to dislike about her. She was always positive, always smiling. She was smart, sweet, successful and independent. 

On January 1st, 2012, we were scheduled to pick up our girls from their cousin’s New Year’s Eve sleepover party before noon. Kim didn’t make it to pick up her daughter. A few hours later, she was found murdered in her home.

Joe got the news right away and endured the unthinkable task of sharing the heartbreak with his daughter. He called me soon afterward; I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Not even after I heard what he said could I understand what he was saying. 

Only now, after the standing room only memorial service, after the burial where I watched Kim’s sweet girl bravely place special items and photographs into her grave, as my sweet girl bravely placed a hand on her sister’s shoulder, after birthdays and holidays without her, after seeing justice served when her killer, an ex-boyfriend, was convicted and sent to prison for 30 years, as we continue to look forward at the lifetimes without her made apparent every day her daughter can’t feel the comfort of her mother’s embrace, only now has it become real that she is gone. 

My heart swells every moment I spend with the girls. We have just celebrated their 20th birthdays; they are as close as twins and have become two striking, intelligent, talented, feisty young women.

I am honored to live up to the promise I wrote on Kim’s urn the day she was laid to rest: I will watch over your girl.

If I had been the mom taken away far too soon, I have no doubt Kim would have extended the same love toward my children. That’s what mothers do: we rise above ourselves for our children, no matter how challenging, or awkward, or different from the norm. We love when it’s easy and we love when it’s hard . . . we love because we know love wins.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Stephanie Regalado

Stephanie Regalado is the editor-in-chief of her city magazine, blogger at SisterhoodShared.com, podcaster at SheSays and founder of the If They Only Knew project. Stephanie is mom to three daughters (ages 20, 20 and 14) and one son (18), and glamma to the ever-precious Love Nugget (3). Highlights of Stephanie’s life are traveling with friends and family—including her two walnut-sized brain canines—and frolicking waterside, anywhere. Her first book If They Only Knew, a collection from the popular magazine column of the same name celebrating the perseverance and strength of women, is due out in 2020.

Graduation Means One Last Party

In: Motherhood, Teen
Little boy smiling

My head is about to explode. My youngest, AKA my baby, is about to graduate high school this June. While that is a huge deal, I know what goes into graduation. It isn’t a simple thing. There is no “just a graduation.” Or a simple “end of the year” summation. I have an older son who already graduated high school and college. I’ve done the parties, planned the events, and lived through the end-of-school-year activities. And I’ll be honest—my first thought with my second son’s graduation was this: I don’t want to do it! Please, don’t make me do this....

Keep Reading

My Teen Is Always Changing His Mind—And That’s Okay

In: Motherhood, Teen
Teen boy with neutral smile

My teenage son changes his mind about everything around him. And it’s driving me crazy. My sweet 17-year-old son chooses one thing, only to change his mind about it a second, a minute, or a day later. And he does this all day, every day. At first, I didn’t notice this trend—the swapping of his choices—until it was about things that were more expensive or more serious like careers and cars. And then I began to wonder about his mind. Was there something wrong with him? “I think I want a Mustang,” he would say about the future car he...

Keep Reading

Friendship in Motherhood is Beautifully Unique

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Three mothers sitting on lawn watching kids on trampoline, color photo

Friendships in motherhood hold a unique and treasured place, distinctly different from any we’ve experienced before. The ones we meet in the trenches of parenting, as we nurture our kids and rediscover ourselves after becoming mothers—these are the relationships forged amidst the chaos of early morning T-ball practices, the joy of trampoline birthday parties, and the occasional playground meltdown. Motherhood friendships have a distinct depth that sets them apart from the rest. Of course, the friends from our youth are treasures—steadfast companions through the awkwardness of adolescence, through every scraped knee and heartache. Then there are the friends of our...

Keep Reading

Dear Graduate, I Love You Forever

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Kindergarten grad

I never imagined these days of preparing for graduation, senior prom, senior photos, and you actually moving out would come. A few weeks into your life, friends gifted you a 6-month sleeper. I remember the cuddly white footie pajamas well. But I swore you’d never get big enough to wear it. How could this 8-pound human grow to fit into 6-month clothes? Impossible. And then somehow they did fit, and then they didn’t anymore. Just like that. Everyone says the days are long but the years are short. Everyone, that is, who has had a lot of years. When I...

Keep Reading

The Baby I Prayed for Became the Daughter I Needed

In: Motherhood, Teen
Mother and teenage daughter, color photo

It started with pain, doubt, and prayers just moments before they laid you in my waiting arms. The cumulation of months of planning, anticipation, and excitement all ended in a small, brown-haired little doll who we could dress in pink. I quickly handed you over my head to the eager hands of your older sister, who promptly took her spot in the rocking chair, welcoming you into our family. Many nights, I would hear your tiny sounds as you rooted around, waiting for me to pick you up, carry you to that same rocking chair, fill your tummy, and pat...

Keep Reading

I Prayed for These Moments I’m Living with You

In: Motherhood
Little girl smiling on couch

There’s a half-eaten, yellow Dum-Dum sucker stuck in the console of my dashboard, right in front of my gear shift. Every day when I pick my daughter up from daycare, she gets a Dum-Dum sucker from the director as we leave. Once in the car, she usually eats some of it and either puts it upside down in the cup holder of her car seat, or she hands it to me, and I place it in the console until we get home when I can toss it in the trash. This is nothing new. This has been part of our...

Keep Reading

When You Wonder, “Why Do I Even Try?”

In: Motherhood
Weary woman on couch at home

I have thought these words to myself countless times in the past year. With a fresh teenager in seventh grade and a pre-teen in fifth, it has been a year of trial and tribulation I can only imagine compares to the biblical character Job. Okay, so maybe I am a bit dramatic. However, as a hard-working single mother, this year has truly tested me to the point of near torture. And here I am, still standing, in need of copious amounts of caffeine and some serious self-care but still standing nonetheless. I am admittedly (and my sons would agree) not...

Keep Reading

Love Beyond Words

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugging daughter

My daughter Lexi lost her words and some of her motor functioning when she was two years old. She was three when the silent intruder of Rett Syndrome made itself known through seizures. But here’s the heart of our story: even without words, Lexi and I have created our own language—a symphony of unspoken love. She may not call me “Mom” in the traditional sense, but her eyes, her laughter, and the unique sounds she makes speak volumes to my heart. Each day with Lexi is a dance—one where the steps aren’t always clear, and the rhythm can change in...

Keep Reading

Always Choose Adventure

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Two children looking at aquarium exhibit, color photo

Here’s the thing about traveling with little kids. Is it hard? Sometimes. Sometimes it looks like a whole carry-on dedicated solely to snacks, activities, and emergency treats. Sometimes it looks like buying a drink for the passenger next to you as a way of saying sorry and thank you all at the same time for the airplane kid chaos they endured. Sometimes it looks like altering your picture-perfect itinerary that you meticulously planned on account of missed naps finally catching up. Sometimes it looks like washing a car seat off in a hotel shower because your toddler got carsick, then...

Keep Reading

These Family Recipes Feed My Soul

In: Living, Motherhood
Old, messy, recipe book, color photo

There’s a recipe in my cookbook so caked with flour and cinnamon that my mother’s handwriting struggles to be seen. It’s for sweet roll dough, a recipe both my maternal and paternal grandmothers used and passed down. There’s just a difference in how many eggs and flour you choose to use. From this dough, meals that memories are made of take the shape of pizza, cinnamon rolls, Runzas (for us Midwesterners), or simple dinner rolls. For our family, it’s a Sunday night tradition of homemade pizza and a movie and Monday morning cinnamon rolls to start the week. Not much...

Keep Reading