To All the Unseen “Mothers”


There you are, living in the shadows of ambiguity as Mother’s Day approaches. Maybe your life circumstances find you outside the traditional definition of motherhood, or — for reasons far too complicated for explanation — Mother’s Day is a holiday you’d like to ignore altogether.

Woman Twilight
Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

I want you to know something. I want you to know that I see you. I see you, the single woman whose dreams of marriage and motherhood have yet to be fulfilled. I honor you as an unseen mother because you pour your life into the children you teach and serve and work with and the little ones you love as if they were your own. Though you love being the “fun aunt” and find great fulfillment there, there’s no day to celebrate your unconditional love for your nieces and nephews.

I see you. The birth mothers who loved your children so deeply that you made the difficult choice to allow them to call another woman “mom.” You once carried them within you, feeling every kick and movement, and now you carry them in your heart. Perhaps you find it difficult to express your grief without it being interpreted as regret because others may not understand how sadness can co-exist with a certainty that the sacrifice was your best way to be a mother.

I see you, wives of husbands who came into your union as a dad already. You are tenuously navigating how to love and care for the children in your home, sharing parenting tasks without sharing DNA. You seek to honor the woman they loved first, while carving out space to also be a mom, wrestling to defy the negative connotations usually associated with the term “stepmother.”

You are not forgotten — the women whose hearts were stolen by the babies you never held because the joy of pregnancy ended prematurely. Even if you are mothering other children, the weight of your loss steals some of the joy of Mother’s Day as you mentally calculate how old that child would be now.

Maybe infertility has deferred your dreams of motherhood, or you are a woman in the process of adoption or fostering and you anxiously await your own reason to celebrate Mother’s Day. Or maybe you’ve lost a child and you aren’t sure how to answer when someone asks how many children you have. Do you open the wounds from the children you’ve buried with this person unknowingly asking such a loaded question?

As Mother’s Day approaches, I want to offer the reminder that this day is a landmine for so many — for the unseen mothers whose loving hearts elude definition. For the daughters whose complicated relationships with their moms make this day difficult. For the ones who never had a mom. For the foster moms, the caregivers, the teachers, nurses, and countless others who invest in the lives of children in unnoticed ways.

Woman Blowing Dandelion
Photo by Nine Kopfer on Unsplash

I want you to know that the sacred space of motherhood goes beyond biology or societal labels.

I want to bring recognition to all these unseen mothers so that they, too, are celebrated for all the ways they contribute to the next generation. If you care for, protect, influence, and invest in children, thank you for being a “mother” in an unconventional way. As you long for children who live right now only in your dreams, your mother’s heart does not go unnoticed. 

Let’s celebrate the women in our lives who may feel invisible this Mother’s Day. Send them a text or card or drop by with flowers. You could even forward this article to them as a way to affirm their value and worth.

Mother’s Day is a time when we can look beyond our mom circles to nurture and cheer for each other. That’s the true definition of motherhood.

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Heather has called the Fort Worth area home since 1995, after growing up as an Army brat and preacher's kid. She's married to her college sweetheart, Chris (Sic' Em Bears!). They're parents to three - Collin (1999), Cooper (2001), and Caris (2004), and they're gaining daughter, Elizabeth, after Collin's August 2022 wedding. Heather is the Co-founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, The Adoptee Collective, which offers lifetime adoptee support and post adoption resources, as well as pre-adoption education. Heather has authored and published multiple books, finding joy in using her gifts, time, and energy toward her life goal to finish empty.


  1. Angela– you are so welcome. Thank you for taking time to read. There’s so many who fall in between the “categories” and therefore, seem to go unnoticed. Happy Mother’s Day to every one of them.


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