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An Accidental Mother

An Accidental Mother

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by Katherine Anne Kindred

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After her divorce, Kate Kindred decided that she would live her life without children. But then she fell in love with Jim, a handsome, caring man who had custody of his two-year-old son, Michael. And she fell in love with the boy, too. During the six years they all lived together, Kate learned the deep joys of motherhood—that was the gift that Michael gave


After her divorce, Kate Kindred decided that she would live her life without children. But then she fell in love with Jim, a handsome, caring man who had custody of his two-year-old son, Michael. And she fell in love with the boy, too. During the six years they all lived together, Kate learned the deep joys of motherhood—that was the gift that Michael gave her. But when her relationship with Jim ended, he denied her any contact with Michael.

And her heart was broken.

An Accidental Mother beautifully describes the joys of mothering a young boy through complicated times. With sweet simple anecdotes and complex emotions, Kate Kindred marks every page with tears, including those that the most loving laughter can bring to any parent.

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“In a world like ours, where women have more life choices and the word “family” has more accepted definitions, there are probably quite a few others in Kindred’s situation. They will appreciate the bittersweet comfort she provides within these pages. Kindred no longer has any contact with Michael and Elizabeth, but it’s likely they will become aware of the book she has written. Someday, surely, they will appreciate it, a polished scrapbook of their sweetest moments, as well as the tougher times, and a testament of Kindred’s unwavering love.”—The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Product Details

Unbridled Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.90(d)

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An Accidental Mother

By Katherine Anne Kindred


Copyright © 2001 Katherine Anne Kindred
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-60953-058-7

Chapter One

An Accidental Mother

Kate! There's a monster in my room!"

Still mostly asleep, I notice that without the help of my conscious mind to direct them, my legs have somehow begun on their own, swinging over the side of the bed, moving me toward the door of the room as my arms reach out in the dark for the small boy I know is somewhere near. I take his hand as my pupils begin to dilate enough to allow me to see down the hallway toward the glow of his bedroom nightlight.

"Let's go see," I whisper, and pull him gently along, reaching for the light switch the moment we pass through the doorway. The room is suddenly filled with light, and my eyes squint as I look around. I see an unmade bed with a Spiderman pillow in the middle, tiny jeans lying on the floor next to the laundry basket, storybooks on the table beside the bed.

"I don't see a monster," I say, and look down into the tear-filled eyes.

"It was in my dreams!" he tells me, and I notice he's been dragging his teddy bear along with him the whole time.

We're making progress, I think. For a long while he's been convinced that the monster is somewhere in his room. That he understands it's only in his dream is a giant step forward.

I pick him up to comfort him; he just turned five and is almost too big to hold, but he wraps his arms and legs around me and lays his head on my shoulder. I notice he is trembling. It only takes me a few minutes to get him snuggled back into bed, to reassure him that the monster dream is over, to tell him that instead he can dream about Grandma and Papa's house and going to the movies with his cousins.

I return to our bedroom and climb back into bed, now wide awake.

"Thanks for getting up with him," a voice whispers beside me.

"You're welcome," I whisper back.

That's when I realize the boy called out for me, not his dad, to protect him from the monster.

Me. Kate. Not his real mother, his accidental one.

I've never made any apologies for the fact that my only "child" turned out to be a border collie named Annie. I adopted her when she was two years old. Having come from an abusive home, she was skittish and needy. She's been with me for more than a decade, and I'm certain it's because of my patient nurturing that she now feels so well loved and secure that she disobeys nearly every command I offer—unless, of course, a biscuit is involved. She is smart and manipulative and I love her all the more for it. Yet she's well behaved enough that she travels with me everywhere and even comes to work with me every day.

We survived two failed relationships together, and after the second ended in divorce, I realized my opportunity to have children of the human kind had just passed me by. I accepted this fact without regret, content to consider Annie proof that had I wanted to, I could have raised a kind and loving child. Knowing my eggs weren't getting any younger, I opted for tubal ligation, certain that I could live a full life without experiencing the need to procreate or the pain of giving birth. This did not, however, mean I embraced a life of postdivorce solitude. Welcoming a barrage of blind dates, I soon learned that being childless at forty is a rarity. At my age nearly everyone single has at one point been married, and most of those marriages have resulted in a child or two. I joked to my girlfriends that surely I was meant to be a stepmother instead of a birth mother. Someday I would meet someone with two teenagers on their way to college who did not need a new mother and whose father was financially and emotionally prepared for a long-term casual commitment.

Obviously, I hadn't fully evaluated other possible outcomes.

Welcome Michael, just months shy of four years old, with dark-blond hair and big blue eyes, in dire need of a mother. Oh, and did I mention Jim, the ever handsome and charming father of said boy? The first time this child tested me with the word "mom" and then looked up into my eyes with a little grin, waiting, waiting, waiting to see what my response was going to be, I knew I was in deep trouble. His inquiries have continued, albeit with modifications along the way. Once I was paging through a magazine while he sat beside me with a coloring book and crayons, and he stopped to ask me if he had come out of my stomach.

"No," I told him, "you came out of your mother's stomach."

"But I want you to be my mother!"

I hesitated, then pulled out the bottom of my sweatshirt to make myself look pregnant. "Okay, get in my stomach."

Michael giggled. "Kate! You can't go backward!" And then, just as I begin to worry that the joke was improper, he asked, "What should I color next?"

As recommended by the family counselor, his father has provided Michael with a brief explanation, limited in detail. But it is nearly impossible to simplify such a complicated story.

Jim told me he received a phone call a little less than a year ago from a man who, unbeknownst to him, had been Michael's stepfather. Michael's mother, Jim's former girlfriend, was now married to another man—and addicted to prescription painkillers. She had been found unconscious in the backyard play-pool with Michael nearby. While she was hospitalized, state agencies intervened and mandated that she would not be allowed unsupervised contact with her child for the next two years.

Jim told me he had not known of the boy's existence and was shocked to learn he was father to a two-year-old son. Michael's mother relinquished all parental rights to Jim, and he flew five states away to begin parenting a child he had just met. To complicate things further, all of this occurred near the end of his marriage to the mother of his daughter, Elizabeth, Michael's half-sister.

Fast-forward one year, and into the picture steps Kate, with rose-colored glasses, obliterated fallopian tubes, and a sixty-pound border collie at her side.

After we were set up by a mutual friend, Jim was honest regarding his state of affairs during our long introductory telephone call. It was a complex history, for sure, but the fact that he had taken on the responsibility of raising his son alone, no questions asked, revealed his character. And failed relationships? How could I, twice divorced and also having experienced an unplanned pregnancy (that, although welcome at the time, ended in a miscarriage), judge him? My personal philosophy held that I would rather be guilty of ending a relationship than staying in a bad one for the sake of not being alone—or judged for what others might see as another failure. And so, while getting to know Jim, I kept an open mind.

After a week of telephone calls and a lunch date, I learned that we had a litany of common interests and an immediate attraction; we were soon inseparable. He seemed to be honest and ethical, was a committed father, and had a wit and sarcasm that challenged my own. To my surprise I was falling in love, even though this was a package deal. I was blissfully naive as to what that really meant.

As our relationship continued to develop, I tried to be as sensitive as possible to any long-term effects my presence might have on the children. Having given up on traditional commitment, I hadn't analyzed the consequences of this relationship lasting more than a few months. I was unprepared for how my role in Michael's life would become a primary one.

And then there was Elizabeth. I was careful to give her space and time to get to know me—she already had a mother. Yet every time she saw me she squealed with joy and wrapped her arms around my neck as I bent down to greet her. "Who's my chica?" I would ask. She always smiled and yelled out, "Me!"

I cautiously embraced these developing bonds, but before I recognized the potential demands, I became aware that my extracurricular interests required modifications. Dating a man with children meant that some nights there were no babysitters—no dining out, no dancing, no overnight Vegas turnarounds. Some nights the date consisted of macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and a bedtime story after a bath. To some this might be cause to turn and run. But to my surprise, for me it became a toehold in a secret world, an exclusive club called "parenting" a world into which I had thought I would never be granted a pass. At the time, I didn't realize that it is also something like a cult—easier to get into than out of.

And therein lies the beauty of it—the tie that had never bound me before. The fact that Michael's mother is not present leaves me in a position where I cannot just break up, blame all the problems on the other person, and bail whenever I feel like it. That's no option when there is a little person in the other room waiting for me to tuck him in and read Hop on Pop. Furthermore, the sound of my voice as I rattle off a long list of complaints begins to sound a little ridiculous when I realize that the pile of dirty clothes on the floor is not nearly as scary as a monster hiding in a little boy's room three nights in a row.

Okay, so maybe I was supposed to learn something new about commitment. But I can't help but wonder if someone has made a mistake and why God, or the universe, or whoever is in charge, would allow me to become so involved in the development of this young boy. I am confident that I can screw up another relationship, but there are days when I am overwhelmed by the grave responsibility of the impact my words and actions have on this malleable little creature.

Before I met Jim and Michael, my job and my dog were my only priorities, with my social life coming in a close third. Managing the business interests of an entrepreneur consumed most of my time and energy, and knowing I could bring Annie to work made it easy for me to stay late into the evening and come to the office on the weekends. Although much of my job centered on accounting and management, the frequent event planning became an expression of my artistic talents. I relished the number of compliments handed out by important visitors and guests, not to mention my employer. Few would ever know how well I handled everything else, but a successfully executed extravaganza of a party for a hundred or more guests would be remembered for a long time. I happily accepted whatever credit was due, even though my role in planning a party was far less critical to my employer than how well I handled the bills and the banking.

I can't help but concede that the raising of a child can easily be compared to my job duties. No one will ever see all the effort a woman puts into making sure a child is "balanced," but everyone will notice how adorable the child looks if dressed up in designer clothes. And the part no one notices is much harder work.

There are days when I imagine simply running away, returning to a life in which my job, my boss, and my dog are my entire reason for being. Weeknights would mean dinner or a movie with friends, and my weekends would consist of at least one girl's night out. My excess cash would be spent on manicures and pedicures and the rare splurge on a pair of Jimmy Choos. But I have come to realize that as fond as I am of those days, I never fail to welcome the sight of the child standing before me, a miniature person with arms outstretched, begging me to hug him. So I have become an accidental mother to Michael. When he has a bad dream, he calls for me. When he can't get his pajama top off, I'm the one he comes to for help. When he is in need of snuggle time, mine is the first name from his lips.


Excerpted from An Accidental Mother by Katherine Anne Kindred Copyright © 2001 by Katherine Anne Kindred. Excerpted by permission of UNBRIDLED BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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An Accidental Mother 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ChristysBookBlog More than 1 year ago
An Accidental Mother by Katherine Anne Kindred is the story of a mother's love that was never meant to be. Kate Kindred had experienced two failed marriages that led her to the decision to have a tubal ligation, ending her chances of becoming a mother. She determined that she didn't have the maternal gene until she fell in love with Jim, a cop who was in the process of a bitter custody battle over infant Elizabeth with his ex-wife when he discovered that he was also the father of two-year-old Michael. Michael's mother was arrested for drug issues and gave up parental rights to the boy, leaving him with Jim, and soon Kate. At first she was uncertain about her role in Michael's life, but when Jim and Kate moved in together, she quickly became Michael's full time mom and primary caregiver, soothing nightmares, reading bedtime stories, and trying to establish a sense of right and wrong in this sweet little boy. Michael quickly stole her heart, and she embraced her new role as Mom, despite Jim's repeated delays of her adopting his son. This all came to an end when Jim ended the relationship and cut off all contact with now eight-year-old Michael, breaking Kate's heart. In this slim volume, she retells the story of her falling in love, not with Jim, but with Michael and motherhood, and how this small child touched her heart indelibly. Kate's brokenness and aching resonates on every page. Even the silly stories in alternating chapters are filled with the weight of the knowledge that they are coming to an end all too soon. This story speaks to the pain of anyone who has every loved a child without any blood shared, and the failure of the courts to recognize these connections. This is not an easy read, but it is a worthwhile one that will break readers' hearts and get them thinking.
McGuffyAnn More than 1 year ago
When Kate Kindred fell in love with Jim, she did not plan on falling in love with his little boy, too. Kate had planned on a childless life. But life and love don't always fit into plans the way one imagines. Jim had custody of little two year old Michael. A year earlier Jim had received a call informing him that Michael's mother had lost custody of him. Jim had not even known of Michael's existence, but was now awarded full custody. In addition to Michael, Jim had joint custody of a little girl, Elizabeth. His marriage to her mother had recently ended. But this book is about Kate and her very special relationship with Michael. For six years Kate was Michael's mother, in every way that matters, and Michael was Kate's little boy in all of the same wonderful ways. In "An Accidental Mother" Kate shares her special moments, even illustrating them with notes Michael wrote and pictures that he drew for her. She shares the joys and sorrows of raising someone else's child. Sadly, that is her ultimate sorrow. When her relationship with Jim ends, Kate loses Michael, too. This is a very poignant, touching memoir about a very special relationship. My heart goes out to Kate, and to Michael.