When my daughter was born, I was born as a mother.
Motherhood felt completely natural yet soul-shockingly new. There’s no way to describe it in logical terms, only magical, mythical ones. I felt like I had gone into the cocoon of birth and emerged a butterfly new mom. Or, you know, something less weird.
Yet I sometimes still feel like I’m not a Real Mom yet. A Mom with a capital M seems unreachable, even though I hear that word whispered, yelled, shrieked, and sweetly cooed at me 150,000 times a day.
I am currently writing a post for a blog with the word MOM in the name and yet… do I belong here? I often wonder if there’s a place for someone with my limited mothering experience. I only have one child and she’s just about to turn 2. I have another on the way but I’m only halfway through my pregnancy. The secret’s out, my resume proves it: I’m an entry-level mom.
Will I be a Mom when I’ve reached some kind of unknown milestone? When my daughter has an epic tantrum in public, will I be able to get my official Mom Card? I’m assuming this will happen sooner than later, but what if by some miracle this milestone never comes? I’ll have to explain to the Mom Tribunal that yes, it’s true. I am a Mom. No witchcraft here, I promise. Can I still get my Card, please?
A mom at a playgroup I went to recently snickered to her friend towards the new mom who was there with her 4-month-old (who was, at that moment, sweetly sleeping in a stroller): “When I see moms with a little baby, I think ‘just you wait!’ until you have TWO who can both WALK.” Sheesh, what does that even mean? We’ve talked about this before – let’s retire “just you wait,” comments pretty please.
Whether it’s mean spirited or just in the spirit of solidarity with her friend, these kinds of phrases and thinking do separate us.
Will I be a Real Mom when I’ve had those two kids who can both walk? What if I decided to only have one kid? Will I be a Mom when my kid(s) reach a certain age? 8? 18? 28? Are we only card-carrying members of the Mom Elite when our kids are grown up and out of the house? Maybe we’re only Real Moms when we can look at the new moms with babies, toddlers, and teenagers and dole out sage advice or words of caution.
Here’s my problem: While I love talking to, getting advice and hearing stories from parents who have been there/done that with their kid or kids, sometimes it’s nice to hear from people who are right in the thick of it, who remember what it’s like to know the difference between 19 months and 23 months old. They remember because it was yesterday. Time can move slowly when you’re watching a child grow…
Time fills up quickly with milestones, moments, and memories. It’s a dense forest and the further you go down the path, the harder it is to see the details of where you came from.
The good news is that the further down this path you trot, the more you see the forest for its pure beauty. The individual trees melt away into a landscape of glimmering and sometimes vague markers of what once was. It’s not always pretty, but the distance makes it heart-achingly beautiful all the same.
I want to hear from those moms at the top of the path, the top of the mountain, looking down at the beautiful vista that included first solids, potty training, first days of school and many many other important experiences. But I also want to hear from someone like me, just starting out on the path.