I’ve considered the basics of becoming a mother- what, when, where, why, and how did I become a mother? All of those questions were simple except, when?
When did I become a mother? Is there a precise moment when a transformation takes place?
I’ll give you an idea about my journey to motherhood.
Why? It was really simple, I was approaching my scrambled egg phase of life and it was really now or never.
Where? Well…for us it was in the doctor’s office. Sans romance. Of any kind. It was an effective, though not fun, process. How? I’ll spare you.
I’ve always been clear about what I believe my job is as a mother. It’s my job as a mother to give my boys all the tools that they need to grow up into the very best versions of themselves that they can possibly be. I have some of my own ideas about that – I want them to be kind, grateful, respectful, and able to cook and do laundry. But, for the most part, I want the ideas to be theirs. I am a facilitator to help them discover who they are and what they are capable of. Much of what I believe I need to do as a mother I learned from my relationship with my mother.
So when? That’s the interesting question.
When did I become a mother?
There are a lot of quick answers, but I wasn’t sure any of them felt completely right. Conception? There’s definitely some motherhood there. But I didn’t know it yet.
The plus sign on the pregnancy test? The blood test at the doctor’s office?
I started making lifestyle changes and the little person (lovingly referred to as “the Bean”) was definitely impacting my life. (I had just started a jury trial that week and I prayed, possibly harder than I’ve ever prayed, that I wouldn’t throw up on either the judge or the jury each and every day.) But that can’t be all there is; one pink plus sign can’t possibly hurl me into the chasm of motherhood all at once.
The more I thought about it, the less comfortable I was defining a precise moment that I became a mother.
I am more and more “motherly” each day, with every “motherly” task that I perform. Shortly after we brought our first son home from the hospital, one of my dear friends was desperately anxious to visit. She was almost as excited about my pregnancy as we were and she was impatient to meet the Bean. But, shortly after Bean was born, she was getting over a cold. I forced the words “You shouldn’t come visit right now” from my lips. In the moment, I felt as if I just scored the winning touchdown in the mommy super bowl! I did what was right for my tiny helpless baby and I felt horrible for breaking her heart. Okay – my thought process was admittedly melodramatic…nevertheless. Mommy points. Big ones. It was the first of many such moments to come and with each moment, I become a little more “motherly.”
The beautiful moments come in rapid fire succession. The first time you held your baby. Had your baby reach her arms out for you? Heard your toddler say “I wuv you mommy?” Dressed them in their soccer uniforms or ballet tights that were ridiculously too big so that they could run around for 5 minutes and then ask for a snack? Sent them off to their first full day of school? Watched their eyes light up with amazement at a new discovery? With every moment like this, every milestone that my boys reach, and with each accomplishment, I feel just a little bit more motherly. I feel just a little bit more like I’m doing my job. I’m helping them discover themselves and where they fit into the world around them. I’m doing a good job. And on some days, a fantastic job.
And let’s not forget the heart wrenching and frightening moments; they keep coming too – just to keep us on our toes. Stayed up all night with a sick baby? Crazy high fevers? What about the first time you wanted to punch a 5 year old in the throat because he was mean to your child? You know you wanted to. I did too. Took your child to the ER in the middle of the night? Held your breath while they climbed to the top of a play structure? Hoped they would make friends quickly at school? I’ve had to administer an epi pen and call 911 while watching my son’s face swell up right in front of me. These moments cause visceral reactions, that “mama bear” response.
And I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the gross moments. They count too. Got vomit? Poop? In strange places? Have you ever cheered after extricating a trapped booger from your child’s nose? Yeah, me too. Mother points? Yup. What about the moment you realized that a sniff was the quickest, easiest way to find out what was in the diaper? Don’t be embarrassed, it’s a right of passage.
So I don’t define a precise moment when I became a mother. Rather, all of these moments accumulate and each shapes and molds me in motherhood. And that’s the thing – the moments keep coming, and reshaping and remolding me as a mother. As a mother, I am nurtured, challenged, and strengthened by every experience with my children – the good, the bad, and the gross.
Karen is the creator at Spoil My Family. At home, Karen is raising two boys in an ever complicated world by spoiling them with health, good living, love, joy, wellness, support, and simplicity. These are the things she writes about on Spoil My Family.