So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

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.

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.

No Screens Before 7: How Our Family Broke Free of the Screentime Habit

In: Living, Motherhood
Kids using smartphones

“We still have three more minutes!” my 7-year-old says, bouncing with Christmas-like anticipation and excitement. “Well,” I say, looking from him to his 9-year-old sister, “what could you do for three minutes?” “Leg wrestle!” they exclaim and run to the carpeted living room. This life-filled exchange was not happening in my home just a couple of months ago.  In spite of my best efforts, screen time had taken over. Both the kids and I would slip into this zombie-like, space-time vortex. I would look up and know it wasn’t healthy, but it was just so easy to just keep on...

Keep Reading

You Don’t Have to Lose Yourself to Be a Good Mom

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman brushing wet hair

There is nothing wrong with losing yourself in motherhood. Diving in head first, serving your kids and spouse endlessly, never asking for a break, being proud for providing an amazing childhood for your kids, and allowing mom to become your entire identity. But what if you don’t want that?  When did this become the standard of motherhood we are all expected to achieve? Why does society say the best mom is the one that’s 110% physically and emotionally available for her kids all the time and never does anything for herself? Why are you less of a mom if you...

Keep Reading

10 Tips to Banish Teenage FOMO

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen
Teen with red hair smiling

Do you ever feel like the whole world is having a party—and you weren’t invited Maybe you worry about being included in the right groups or invited to the right sleepovers. Maybe you envy the relationships you see at school or youth group or feel jealous of the perfect social media posts showing others making memories together. If you’re a teen in 2022, you’re probably well acquainted with the fear of missing out. Knowing or wondering what you’re missing or who is getting together without you can leave you feeling lonely. It can leave you lonely and a little blue....

Keep Reading

I Know It’s Just Summer Camp but I Miss You Already

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Kids by campfire

You would’ve thought I was sending you off to college. The way I triple-checked to make sure you had everything you needed and reminded you about the little things like brushing your teeth and drinking plenty of water about a thousand times. You would’ve thought I was sending you to live on your own. The way I hugged you tight and had to fight back some tears. The way you paused before leaving just to smile at me. The way I kept thinking about that boyish grin all the way home. The way I kept thinking about how you’re looking...

Keep Reading

I Want My Boys To Become Men of Character

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boys with arms around each other by water

I’m a single mama of two young boys. As a woman raising young boys, I’ve thought a lot about how I want them to act—as kids and adults. We joke around that I’m not raising farm animals, and we don’t live in a frat house. I’m trying to plant seeds now so they grow into men with positive character traits. They burp, fart, spray toothpaste on the sink and somehow miss the toilet often, but I’m trying to teach them life lessons about what it means to be great men and gentlemen.  Interactions with other men provide opportunities for us...

Keep Reading

I’m So Thankful For This Little Family

In: Faith, Marriage, Motherhood
Toddler boy and infant girl, color photo

I remember my teenage self dreaming, hoping, and praying for a life like I have now. Praying for a man to love me, to be loyal to me, to want a family with me, to provide for me, to show me what stability felt like and what it felt like to not ever have to worry . . . and here he is right in front of me. I remember my teenage self dreaming, hoping, praying for a house I could make a home and raise my family in. Here it is right in front of me. But most of...

Keep Reading

The Kids are Grown—Now What?

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Middle aged couple at home smiling

Between video chats with our son stationed overseas, our daughter flits in and out our door from college while the shoe jungle by the front door and lack of peanut butter in the house are proof our youngest adult son is still under our roof.  Our kids are now independent—almost. Gone are the days of diapers, endless food preparations, naps (well, not for me), and announcing everyone’s daily schedule like a calendar drill sergeant. After years of simultaneously spinning multiple plates on various body parts, we managed—by God’s grace—to raise three kids to adulthood. We made it! (High five!) We...

Keep Reading

Until There Was a Boy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother looking at son and smiling, color photo

I never believed in love at first sight . . . until there was a boy.  A boy who made my heart whole the first time he looked at me.  A boy who held my hand and touched my soul at the same time.  A boy who challenged me and helped me grow. A boy who showed me that, even on the worst days, the world is still a beautiful place.  RELATED: I Met a Boy and He Changed Everything A boy who reminded me how to laugh until tears ran down my cheeks. A boy who tested my patience...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Heart Remembers These Sweet Moments Forever

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and baby laughing

Motherhood gives you all the feelings. It’s hard not to be utterly thankful for and grieve the little things of your last baby, trying to take in all of the firsts and lasts. Every bin of clothes and baby gear packed up produces a tiny crack in a mother’s heart, breaking just a little bit more each time she says goodbye. It’s not that she needs those baby clothes, but it’s the memories each outfit held that are difficult for her to let go of. She does not want to forget those beautiful moments. When she looks at that bin...

Keep Reading

I’m Never Not Mothering

In: Motherhood
Mother hugging young child

I’m not sure what I thought a break would look like once I became a mother, but I was under the impression that the opportunity for one—a real, restful, mind-body-and-soul break—would be an option even if a rare one. In the early days of motherhood, people would say things like . . . Sleep when the baby sleeps. Schedule date nights. Take time for yourself. As if it’s that simple. I remember scrolling through photos of friends who were a step ahead of me in this mothering gig. They appeared to be enjoying breaks involving date nights, girls’ trips, or...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime