Physically, I became a mother on my 30th birthday. I hadn’t had Braxton-Hicks contractions before that day, and so when I woke up with contractions, I was pretty sure that’s what was going on. After all, I was having a c-section the following Tuesday, so she wouldn’t be coming yet. I was eating waffles that my husband had just made for me, and the intensity was increasing, but there were waffles to worry about.
I could barely talk when my sister called to wish me a happy birthday, and at her insistence, I started timing my contractions. Five minutes apart. Ok then! My husband and I raced, safely, to the hospital, where I delivered, via c-section, my sweet baby girl at 12:51 pm. And there it was: I was a mother.
Seventeen months later, I delivered another sweet baby girl. Life was very different at that time, but the excitement was no less. I had another tiny human who was beautiful and peaceful, and made me feel very, very lucky.
But really becoming a mother? I’m still doing that. There are moments beyond the physical, I think, that have really made me a mother.
Becoming a mother happened in the hard moments:
It was in the fear that I felt when I saw my 18-month-old falling and slicing her chin open, the sickness in my stomach as they strapped her to a board to give her stitches, and the relief when it was all over.
It was in the empowerment I felt when I made the decision to move out a few months later. When I knew I would do whatever I needed to do to give my kids the life they deserved, no matter how difficult.
It was in the dread I felt when my two-year-old wandered off at the Community Days 4th of July carnival, and the tears when I found her by the inflatable tiger slide.
It is still in the moments when I don’t have the answer, but holding my child is enough. When they cry about being left out or missing their dad or when they feel overwhelmed and can’t explain it.
And becoming a mother happened in the joyful moments:
It was in the surge of pride that I felt when the girls first sang in their all-school talent show. When I marveled at their bravery and their sass as they belted out their song.
It is in the simplicity of our Friday pizza and movie nights, eating on the living room floor, and then squishing on the couch to rewatch old favorites.
It is in the delight of watching them score goals, baskets, runs, cheering them on as they finish races, compete in cup-stacking, dance in a showcase. It is in the moments when they look over to make sure I’m watching, smiling as they do what they love.
And becoming a mother happens in the moments when I sound like a mother:
It is when I tell them they’re fine when they’ve skinned their knees or stubbed a toe. When I tell them to drink water because something, anything, is ailing them. It’s when I say “because I said so” even though I swore I never would.
I became a mother ten years ago, and sometimes I feel like I am faking my way through this. And just when I think Yes, I’ve got this, things change, and I have no idea what I’m doing again. But there are moments, experiences, and feelings that are yet to come that will continue to help me become the mother my kids really need.