Mother’s Day Without My Mom

Erma Bombeck once said, “On Mother’s Day, I can think of no mother more deserving than a mother who had to give one back.” That quote pulls at my heart, as I had to give my own mother back when I lost her to cancer. I was only 12 years old at the time, which seems so young to me now. While I don’t feel like that makes me any more deserving than anyone else, I would definitely say that becoming a mother without your own mom in your life is extremely difficult.

mother's day

When my husband and I adopted our daughter, everything in my life changed. I could list all of the ways that it was different, but the biggest change was becoming a mother without my own mom by my side. Before we adopted our daughter, we had already gone through a lot trying to become parents. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but struggling to conceive brought back a lot of grief for me surrounding the loss of my mom during my childhood. I needed her so badly during our IVF procedures as I was struggling emotionally with why this was happening to us.

When I was broken and ready to give up, it would have been wonderful to be able to pick up the phone to get a pep talk from my mom.

It was super hard when our daughter was born and when we finalized our adoption to not have my mom there. She would have been a glowing grandma at the hospital and would have wanted a front row seat in the courtroom. My mom would have celebrated both the happy times and the sad times of my journey with motherhood.

Every year when Mother’s Day comes around, I tell myself that this year will be easier. The fact is that it doesn’t get any easier no matter how much time passes or how old you get.

Instead I am reminded of all that I have been cheated out of during the past 27 years. I can hardly believe that it’s already been that long, and it’s odd to think that I have not been able to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom for over half of my life.

Since I was just a young girl when my mom passed, I’m not sure I really ever remember a Mother’s Day with her. What I do remember though is making Mother’s Day gifts in school, buying Mother’s Day cards, and writing special notes of appreciation without having her to give them to. When my daughter gives me little love notes or draws me a picture, I wonder to myself if I did this with my mom. Did she love being on the receiving end of those little gifts like I do? Even though I will never get to find out, I like to think that she enjoyed all of the little gifts I gave her.

Did she love being on the receiving end of those little gifts like I do?

I miss my mom not just on Mother’s Day, but every day of the year. I often wonder what she would look like now and if she would be proud of the mother I have become. Mostly I wonder what it would feel like to hug her again and hear the sound of her voice say my name. Instead of missing her on Mother’s Day, I would love to celebrate it with her just one more time and have her meet my daughter.

mother's day

Luckily I have the best family a girl could ask for. They show me lots of love on Mother’s Day and have helped make it a day of special joy instead of sorrow. Yes, I miss my mother on Mother’s Day, but with the love and support of some very special mother figures in my life, I am lucky to be able to celebrate being a mom the way my own mother would want me to.

While my mother can never be replaced, the love she gave me can never be lost.

If you have a woman in your life that has suffered the loss of their own mother, not just by death, but also by any other life circumstance, remember that Mother’s Day may be hard for them. Understand that it may have a different significance for some and that not everyone wants to celebrate it in a conventional way. Be the extra shoulder to cry on if needed, and hug your friend tight. But most of all, be grateful for your own mother and any other mother figure you may have. Celebrate with them while you still have the chance, and make sure you show them how much you love them each and every day of the year.


Melissa was born and raised right here in Iowa. Although she grew up in southwest Iowa (about as close to Missouri and Nebraska as you can get!), she has called eastern Iowa home for 15 years. She and her husband Eric live in North Liberty, along with their 4 year-old daughter Kennedy. Melissa attended the University of Northern Iowa where she earned her BA in Early Childhood Special Education and her MAE in K-6 Learning Disabilities. She currently teaches kindergarten for the Clear Creek Amana School District, where she has taught for 14 years. In her spare time, Melissa loves to be outside playing or working on projects in their yard, spending time with family and friends, and baking up goodies for her family. She also enjoys taking walks with their two dogs, plump beagle Lenny and shy dachshund-beagle mix Cooper. Life as a full-time working mommy keeps her very busy, but Melissa wouldn't have it any other way!


  1. I would have been right there in the hospital and in the front row with her, too, holding her hand, as we welcomed that little girl. I wish we had known her. I know I don’t replace her, but my hope is that I help ease the pain. You know how I hate the made-up holidays. You do honor your mom every day as you mother your little girl. Keep being strong for both of them. She notices. I love you.

  2. My sister sent me that quote because I lost my child but I must have taking the quote wrong it states there is no mother more deserving than a mother who gave one back in my eyes it means I deserved my child to pass away I feel I deserved her to still be here for her children and me to love can anyone understand the way I see that quote


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