Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event 2014: An Unexpected Mother

This post comes from Shannon of A Librarian’s Lists and Letters , and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Don’t Forget to Eat, where I am sharing some delicious ideas for putting together your very own refrigerator oats collection.



When I was assigned to write for Emily’s blog in this exchange, I was a little intimidated. So much of what Emily writes is to inspire others, to shine light on the world, and to give voices to wonderful women that not everyone knows.

But that moment of intimidation was fleeting and I soon knew what I would share with her and her readers.  See, I’ve had a big change in my life in the last year and I wanted to be able to share my story. Because stories come in all colors. And motherhood can be found in all shapes and sizes.

This time last year I was the most single of single women.

I was the 30-something silently, and not-so-silently, judging the slew of Facebook moms over sharing their child’s world and feeling like society only placed value on women who grew up, got married, and popped out a few children as quickly as possible.

Quite honestly, I sometimes felt like there was no place for a woman like me:  professional, witty, intelligent, and single but not by choice.

But life has this really funny habit of turning our world’s upside downs.

And just when I finished celebrating my 10-year college reunion and accepted that I might be the perpetually single friend, I fell in love. And the man I fell in love with is a dad. And now I live with two funny men: one in his 30s and the other just shy of one.

So now I wake up to little giggles coming from the next room over, let someone hold my hairbrush while getting ready for work in the morning, pack lunches for daycare, give the best tickles in the house, cheer excitedly for small milestones, pretend to eat bites of food for encouragement, sing endless rounds of baby tunes, dance the freeze dance, coax steps across the living room, and hush a tired little boy to sleep as he curls up in my lap every night.

And when he leaves us to spend the other fifty percent of the week at his other house, I miss him. I long to hear his laughter.  I think about what he’s up to. I wonder if he misses us. I love him when he’s near and I love when he’s far.

But I didn’t give birth to him.

I didn’t adopt him.

And because his dad and I aren’t married yet, I don’t even have the flimsy and unsentimental title of step-mom.

I’m an unexpected mother.

An unexpected mother doesn’t go to doctor’s appointments or talk to daycare teachers. And an unexpected mother can’t call and talk to her little baby when he’s gone and she misses him. And an unexpected mother can get hurt by the reactions of friends and acquaintances.

People, even the ones closest to me, don’t always know how to react to my situation.

A year ago I might have felt the same. But now, as unexpected mother, I wish these things for my friends and myself:

  • For the friends closest to me to think of me as a mom and to ask me about my family.
  • For them to celebrate the new loves of my life and look forward to that day when our baby will start talking.
  • And when he does hit those milestone, for those same friends to help me discover what perfect name or title he should call me.
  • For people not to judge without knowing the full story. Not every single dad was a philanderer.
  • For me to stop worrying so much about what I cannot control.
  • For me to share this experience with others.

The more loving families in the world, no matter their composition, the better we all are.

But this is one journey that’s just beginning and we all need as much as help as we can get.

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More about Emily Levenson

Emily Levenson is a meditation encourager, mama, and Pittsburgh enthusiast. She recently launched a podcast called Nourish + Flourish and is a co-pilot at Propelle.


  1. Reply What a beautiful post. So often you hear about the other version of this story, the step-parent who doesn't want anything to do with the child. Or even the parent who doesn't want anything to do with the child. I think it is wonderful that you have become an unexpected mother and that little boy is very lucky to have you.
    1. Reply Ladies, thank you so much for your support. It really means a lot to me to have people have such a response to this post. You are all lovely and I'm so glad that we've become friends though twitter and blogs. Seriously, so much love for you. Thank you.
  2. Reply Shannon, finding your post on Emily's blog is like finding peanut butter in my chocolate - a surprise but a welcome collaboration! What great writing!
  3. Reply I know I was a little nebby about this on Twitter. Thank you for telling your story. I hope you know that I feel the way you do: the more love in the world, the better; families come in many different shapes, sizes, and circumstances; and all loving, caring families should be supported in our society. Good luck to you and your boys, big and little. I wish you all the best.
  4. Reply Shannon, such a lovely post about your family. Wishing you lots of snuggles, giggles, and hugs as these guys continue to make your life memorable.
  5. Reply That boy is very lucky to have you as a mom. I got divorced when Little G was just walking, and I'm pretty sure seeing him only half the time is the hardest thing I will ever have to do. Hang in there and know that as he grows up with you, you will be as important to him as he is to you.

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