Motherless Mothering.


Sometimes I think I am perfectly ok with progressing through my Mothering journey as a Motherless Mother.  Other days, like yesterday, & the day before, & the day before that, … I’m not.

I got mastitis again.  My temps reached 40.5 degrees.  I was shaking, & then dripping with sweat, & then shaking again.  And it got to the point where I decided that the only way I could pull off the whole Mothering-with-mastitis caper was to just get down on the floor on my hands & knees, & crawl around in order to get to & from everything that I needed.

And it’s not that I’m usually a woe-is-me kinda girl, it’s just that I couldn’t help but think to myself, “why the FLIP am I crawling around my house with my two children.  And my mastitis?!”.  Do you wanna know why I was doing that? … because I’m a Motherless Mother, that’s why.  And that’s not me stepping into woe-is-me territory, it’s just me stating the facts.  I can assure you, it’s these kind of extreme situations that are the only situations where I would just about give anythingto have a Mum.  Like, one of those good kind of Mums.  The ones that some of my best friends have, who just drop everything when sh*t hits the fan.  Like, … mastitis sh*t.  And all other forms of parenting life sh*t.

Y’know? Like, there are good kind of Mum types out there who just don’t let their daughters crawl around their houses on their hands & knees with their raging fevers, & their Mastitis’.  And look, I’ll be honest, …  I had a bit of a cry yesterday (mastitis will do that to a woman), because every now & again I am just so acutely aware that I lucked the flip out when it came to Mums.

Big time. 

There was one point in my day where Frankie was sleeping, & Max was playing with play doh on the coffee table, so I crawled onto the couch & pulled a blanket over me, … & I closed my eyes.  As soon as I closed my eyes, Max lost his three year old sh*t; “you can’t sleep during the day Mummy! You’re  not allowed! You have to play with me!”.  And look, he’s three, what could I even expect really? But I just wanted to cry.  I felt exhausted, & sick, & unsupported, & unloved.  And I know my son is just three years old, but I wished he could have just accepted that Mummy was sick.  Really sick.  And he would just have to do his own Play Doh thang for a measly twenty minutes or so.

I know, I know.  Unrealistic expectations.

It’s not all doom & gloom.  My husband has, as always, become my village.  And my Mother’s group were incredible.  But there’s something about being sick that makes you feel all child-like again, & so when you’re sick & you’re a Mother yourself? You just want Mama help.  Good Mother help.  Like, … pull-you-in-for-a-hug-until-you-cry-snotty-tears type Mother help.  Your own Mum.  Someone who gives a fu*k.  About you.  And your children.  And who doesn’t want to see you crawling around the house with your fevers, whilst raising your children.

That kind of Mother.  The kind of Mother I didn’t get.  The kind that, no matter how hard I try to make friends who feel like family, are never going to replace that one I didn’t get.  It’s just this … void, which will never be filled.

And it flipping hurts.  More than I’ll ever be able to put into words, despite the countless ways I’ve tried to.

There was this moment yesterday, where I just knew this could never be my children.  I would be so hurt to think of Frankie crawling around her house by herself with her mastitis, & her children.  Christ, I would be equallyhurt if that was my daughter-in-law (Max’s wife).  I just, … I had this moment where I realised I needed to have a ‘me day’ soon to sort things out like pap smears, & skin checks, & mammograms.  Because the thought of my own children doing parenting as tough as Dave & I sometimes have to? Well, I’ve got to be honest, it flipping kills me.

I want my children to know I’m only a phone call away.  And I want them to know I’d drop everything to help them.  I want to be able to remember that the early parenting years are tough, & they will probably feel the need to call on me regularly.  I want them to know I will always welcome them calling on me, & there will never be any associated guilt trips.   I want them to be able to consider returning to work without worrying about day care waitlists, because I will be their day care option (if they want me to be).  I want them to know that I can work in shifts to hold their reflux-y baby, should their babies be reflux-y.  And I want them to know I can be on pram patrol should they need to try on clothes at the shops, or trolley patrol should they need to get a supermarket shop done with children.  I can bounce their babies on my knee while they get their hair cut.  And I can push them out the door for child free date nights, because I’ll tell them they need child free time.  And they’ll be out on their dates, & they’ll think to themselves, ‘thank God we came.  We really needed this!’.

I just don’t want them to know Motherless Mothering.  Because it’s the one painful aspect of my Mothering journey.  It’s a sad, & sometimes nauseating, & often stomach sinking, heart wrenching kind of … disappointment, really.

And I don’t want it for Max.  And I certainly don’t want it for Frankie.


  1. I’m not quite motherless-mothering, because my mum is on the end of the phone, but I get how hard it is not to have someone there to help when you’re that sick. I hope you’re well and on the mend now.

    • Raising Master Max says:

      Even if she’s on the end of the phone, you’re still doing the kind of Mothering where she’s not around the corner. And that’s … hard.

      I have this theory that we were not MEANT to raise children on our own. I have this theory that it was all supposed to be a village-type way of raising little people. But it’s 2014, families are spreading out, & the impact is strong.

      There’s struggle, y’know? And of course it’s ok, but gee it would be easier if grandparents were around to help.


  2. I feel for you. Mastitis is crap.

    My mum is a great mum but totally removes herself from this stuff. If I need admin assistance like someone to organise my classes while I’m in hospital for a week after a ruptured ectopic, she’s the mum for the job. She did not however come to the hospital once! She’s no nurturer.

    I make friends with nurturers. They are the ones who spent the week by my bedside!

    Even if my mum is here babysitting I can guarantee that nothing will be done around the house like I see other mums do. She’s a guest in her eyes. I guess what I’m saying is that even with a mum, I need to find others to supply the mothering I need sometimes. I hope and think you have those kind of great people in your life. You just need to let go and let them step up. It was hard to learn that for me, but life is much better for it.


    • Raising Master Max says:


      I don’t blame you for seeking out nurturers!

      Your Mum doesn’t sound like an a-hole, but … because I’m a nurturer myself, I just don’t … UNDERSTAND how anyone couldn’t be?! Especially when their daughters become Mothers?!

      I can’t get my head around that. Y’know?

      I’m so glad you’ve sought out nurturing type friends for yourself, because Christ, we all need a little bit o’ TLC!


  3. Natasha says:

    Thank you for your post, posts like this help me to appreciate my mum. I used to take her for granted and just expect her to do the things she does for me. But thanks to your post and posts like this I realise exactly how lucky I am and will never take her for granted again! Mastitis is so hard, I’ve been lucky with this baby and haven’t gotten it, yet… Hope you start getting better soon.

  4. Tammy K says:

    You know I know EXACTLY what you mean. I feel EXACTLY the same with my kids. Your post made me sad because I just get it xx

    • Raising Master Max says:

      I know you know, I don’t think our stories could be any more similar if they tried!

      I think we’ve become the same Mothers because of that.


  5. I’m a Motherless Mother and yes everything you have said rings true for me too although I had one of those Mothers that would have dropped everything for me so knowing that is lovely and sucky all at the same time. It is hard in those moments when you are just tryng to survive the day and get everybody to the end of the day safe, well and fed! Hugs to you and hope that this mornings sunshine brings a better day for you x

    • Raising Master Max says:


      I think that’s even more difficult!

      Having someone amazing, & then losing them? I truly feel for you.

      If my Mother was around today, I wouldn’t let her within a hundred MILLION feet of my children, so I’m not missing HER as such, … just a beautiful Mother figure in general.


  6. Fi @ My Mummy Daze says:

    This breaks my heart, honey. Everyone deserves a Mama hug when she needs one. A mother’s unconditional, unstoppable love is a beautiful thing and I’m so sorry you can’t feel that, especially when you need it so much right now. Please tell me you got some antibiotics into you for that mastitis? Such a horrible thing to go through – worse than any flu I’ve ever had. Big hugs xxx

    • Raising Master Max says:

      Thanks beautiful!

      Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who fills the void to some small degree, i.e he is my village!

      And my Dad is incredible, let that be known. But yes, I could never have expected to be so overcome with grief for not having a Mother myself when I became a Mother for the first time.

      It’s … ongoing grief. And it’s silly, I know. I just, can’t explain it.

      The antibiotics have kicked in, & done their wondrous thing, & I am feeling a lot better!

      Here’s to no more mastitis, … ever again!


  7. Oh gosh this has really touched me….. I love my mum dearly but she is not the kind to drop everything even though we were recently living 10 minuets apart. Somedays I needed her so BAD! after some intense conversations with her, I vowed that My 2 children will never feel alone EVER & any other mother too, I will try my very best to help. I truly hope you feel better soon honey. Xxx

    • Raising Master Max says:

      I will never understand your Mum,

      She is missing out on so much :(

      I never want to be that to my children!


  8. Yes it’s so very hard. I know exactly how you feel. :-(

  9. My mum lives on the other side of the country, our whole family does, so I/we are not lucky enough to have that support either. Even when I lived in the same state my mum was always 4 hours away, she doesnt drive & to be honest when I first had my babies she wsn’t in any state to be any help to me.

    Last time Tim was home we were sitting out the back watching Blake play & talking about our mums & how neither of us really have the best relationship with them & something hit me- what if our kids grow up feeling like that about us?! It made me so sad & worried to think they might feel like they cant call on me for help, or that they will see me as a pain in the butt! I’m a lot like you in that sense Cherie,I am so determined to be the mum to them I feel like I missed out on, not just now but forever. Fingers crossed I can be :)

    All the hugs to you & hope you are feeling better soon too hun- mastitis is a bitch!!! xxxx

    • Raising Master Max says:


      My gosh, Dave & I have had the exact same moment/realisation as you & Tim had.

      We just want to be incredibly hands on when it comes to supporting & helping our children as they navigate parenthood, especially brand new parenthood.

      Maybe I’m self entitled, but I just think that should be the norm?!


  10. Awww shame chickadee – I too am a motherless Mother of sorts as my Mum would desperately love to help but simply cannot due to health reasons. May we all salute our Mothers, wherever they are. xxxxx

  11. Mothering is a bitch sometimes. Can you afford to get someone in from time to time?

  12. I hear you.
    There are days when I so wish I could just call my mother and say I have had a crap day and we are coming over for dinner and I want amazing homemade pizza and ice cream sundaes with hot fudge sauce. It is hard to not have that support. And what is even harder is that I know she would love to help…but distance makes it impossible.
    However she is always there, on the end of the phone if I need her. And I know I am lucky in that respect.

    I hope you are feeling better.
    Mastitis is the worst.

  13. I hope the mastitis passes ASAP and you’re better soon.
    I’m pretty spoilt as while my mother is not especially sympathetic, she is the perfect mother you speak of and so is my mil. If only you lived closer, my mum is the kind who would love to mother you too and I’d be happy to share her.
    Your children are so very lucky to have you and to never know the position you are in.

  14. So sad reading this. There’s nothing worse than being sick and nobody there in person to care for you. I’m not sure of the situation with your Mum as I’m relatively new to your blog but biggest of hugs to you. Can your husband use a day of sick leave to allow you to have a rest? Mastitis is such a debilitating and overwhelming kind of pain, I really feel for you xx

    • Raising Master Max says:

      Thanks so much Carla,

      I appreciate your kind words so much!

      Dave was able to take one day off work, but unfortunately, he’s heading into his end of June 30 season where he can sometimes work up to 90 hours per week. So, he was only able to take the one day.

      It was such a hard week, & one that I really don’t want to live again!


  15. My heart goes out to you. I don’t know where I would be without my Mum, she is my lifeline. I know you will come through this, you always do and come out even more fabulous than you already were. Take it easy hun x

  16. I’m doing motherless mothering with four children, on a farm, with a husband who works long hours. Basically, I do it all on my own with a back, shoulder and knee injury. I get what you are talking about! It’s just plain hard a lot of the time, especially when they are young. It does get easier, the older they get. Thanks for an honest post on a topic that is often very painful, especially when you see other mothers who have their mothers to help them. No one comes and folds your washing, washes your dishes, watches the kids so you can have a nap, just knows what you need because she is your mum. The things I wish I could ask my mum about now that I have children! But you push on, because you have to and like you said, you will try your hardest to be there for your children and their partners when they grow up and reach parenthood. And perhaps they will be more blessed by you, a mother who understand how valuable a loving mother can be in their children’s lives.

  17. My heart goes out to you. I know exactly how you feel. I have been in exactly the same position, I remember thinking “I wonder if they will let me come back to the hospital?”. I can tell you though that things do get easier as your children grow. My oldest started school this year and her sister will start next year. Although there will always be tough times in life, nothing has compared to those times when I was just so sick with a baby and a toddler. Hang in there and if you ever need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to email me :)

  18. Could have written this myself. Sad to think that I have a mum, but she couldn’t care less. I used to want a proper mum so badly, especially on days like you describe. Now I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.

    • Raising Master Max says:

      Knowing the small bits that I know about your relationship with your Mum made me realise that sometimes, even having the biological “proper Mum” Mother-type around, … doesn’t necessarily mean you get your Mrs. Doubtfire.

      I plan on being Mrs. Doubtfire to my children when they have children, & to my daughter in-law (or son in-law).

      I just don’t want them to have to do it hard. That’s all.

      x x x

  19. This post took me right back to having gastro and throwing up in the laundry sink several times that day while holding my 5 or 6 week old soon! He got a few drops of spew on him but he didn’t seem to mind…
    My Mum is in Adelaide looking after my Dad so no trips to Melbourne until they can organise respite care so have just gotten through the first year without her but am very lucky I can call her when I need to talk. Even so I feel like I don’t want to make her feel like crap by telling her I really need her here when she can’t leave my Dad so most of it just swirls around in my head! Will tell her one day ;)
    It’s tough to hear friends say how hard it is with a baby while getting help from both sets of grandparents while you are doing it on your own but I’m sure I can look back on it and know I was able to handle it on my own!! Loving your blog as it reflects a lot of what I have felt.

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