The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Her Shoes

“John’s girlfriend is pregnant,” my mother sighs into the phone.

John, my 45-year-old brother, has been mentally ill since he was 18. He can’t balance a checkbook or pay rent. He subsists on cigarettes, junk food and beer. And when he’s upset, he punches holes in walls and doors.

His girlfriend, Natalie, whom he met three months ago at the neighborhood dive bar he frequents, is an alcoholic.

“Natalie’s gone back to Minnesota for two weeks to stay with her mom and get an abortion,” said my mother.

No -- wait! I scream silently. Let me talk to her! We’ll adopt the baby if she doesn’t want it!

This happy-ending fantasy has barely surfaced before I realize how absurd it is. Yes, how perfect it would be if I could simultaneously save an unborn child and fulfill my daughter’s yearning for a baby brother or sister.

Life’s not perfect though, is it?

I’ve never met Natalie. But I know her. I don’t have to think about what I’d do if I were in her shoes. I’ve been in them. I, too, am an alcoholic. Though I’ve been sober for many years now, I still remember what it was like to find myself pregnant when I was drinking.

More than once.

Like Natalie, the love of my life back then was alcohol. There wasn’t room for anyone else in my selfish, self-destructive world, especially not a helpless baby. I didn’t try to kid myself that I could stop drinking long enough to have one and hand it over to a loving couple or a family. I couldn’t go a day without a drink, let alone nine months. There was never a question about whether I would have an abortion.

The question was how quickly I could get it done, get back to my bar stool and forget about it.

No amount of alcohol could make me forget. No amount of time can completely erase the guilt that still sneaks up on me. As a mother, it’s hard to face the fact that I plucked budding life from my body as if it were nothing more than a rotten tooth or a bothersome hangnail.

When I look at my daughter, there are times I feel undeserving of such a gift. Why was I, in my forties, able to get pregnant so easily and have another chance to give birth when so many other women who long for that opportunity never get it?

It doesn’t seem fair.

But life’s not always fair, is it?

By Dorothy O’Donnell

*Note: The names of those mentioned in this blog have been changed to protect their identities.


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Your candor is a treasure Dorothy. And such a poetic voice.
Every admiringly,
i agree. very brave and moving piece. beautifully written as always.
That was great.
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