Do you remember when you became a mom? They say you never forget your first. The first time you do anything, it’s memorable. Your first time to ride a bike, the first time you sat behind the wheel of a car to drive, and your very first kiss are most likely imprinted on your memory forever.
But do you remember the day when you became a mom?
It wasn’t when I conceived my first child.
16 years ago now, I conceived a daughter. And I know the moment of conception — not that moment (get your mind out of the gutter!) but I felt the change. I didn’t know what it was. He had put me on the bus back to my college dorm, and we had said good-bye, for what we thought would be the last time. And I felt it change inside me as the bus pulled away. I cried the 3 hour ride home, thinking I was just sad to say good-bye. But that wasn’t when I became a mom.
It wasn’t when I had the first signs and symptoms.
I walked into my dorm room and into a room where everyone was sick. Norovirus had swept through our college while I was gone for the weekend, and that night I was sick too. I thought I had just picked up the virus like everyone else — and I probably had. But my sickness never really left.. That still wasn’t when I became a mom, though.
It wasn’t when I found out I was pregnant.
I remember shaking so hard I dropped the test when I saw that blue plus sign come up. I nearly fell down the stairs in my friend’s house, after testing. The feelings of ecstatic terror were overwhelming. I wanted to scream, laugh, cry, and panic. I was going to be a mom. But that wasn’t the day I became one.
It wasn’t when I told her father.
That phone call is a bit of a blur, though I do remember his reaction quite clearly. The dry, “It figures,” that came through the line was an odd response. I learned later that our birth control had failed and he just hadn’t told me, figuring it would be ok. Oops? But that wasn’t when I became a mother.
It wasn’t when I told my parents either.
The weekend I told my parents of their coming grandchild was life-changing in so many ways. It’s the weekend that starkly marks the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood, even though I still had a lot of growing up to do. But it’s still not when I became a mom.
It wasn’t when I gave birth to my daughter.
My daughter’s birth story is filled with bittersweet memories. The joy of meeting her for the first time, and the pain of losing her briefly are mingled in my mind. My delivery did not go according to plan, and I really felt left out on my own to figure things out. But that wasn’t when I truly became a mother.
It wasn’t our first night together completely on our own.
I lived in homeless shelters for the first 6 months of my daughter’s life. So the night we moved out to our first home together in burned in my memory. It was the first time I’d ever lived completely on my own. Putting my daughter to bed in her own room, in her own crib, was an amazing feeling. But that doesn’t compare to the feeling of when I became a mother.
It wasn’t any other milestone either.
Not the first time she said “Mama”, or the first steps she took, or any other major milestone was the moment I became a mother. The milestones were special, and I remember each one like it happened yesterday, even though it was over a decade ago. But the day I became a mother was the day I made a choice.
I chose to become a mother.
I found out I was pregnant right before Mother’s Day. And while I’d told a few people (her father, and the friend that was with me for the test), I was the only one who knew when I went to church that Mother’s Day. And I remember touching my tummy briefly, in sheer wonder, that Mother’s Day, while the preacher pronounced a blessing on all the mothers present. In that moment, I chose motherhood. I promised myself and my child that I would do everything I could to make sure they knew they were loved.
I choose to be a mother.
Motherhood is immensely difficult and at the same time it’s incredibly satisfying. There’s nothing like this feeling of being a mother. When you’re buried in the trenches, day in and day out, it’s easy to forget that we’re mothers, not just maids or cooks or .. slaves. But when I can step back and breathe, and look around at my kids, I’m reminded again of how much I love being a mom.
I’m reminded of how much I love my children.
Being a mom has changed me. I’ve made choices for my future solely because I’m a mother. And while I appreciate time away from my kids as much as any other mother, I treasure the moments I have with my kids — even when I’m annoyed at them.
The days are long but the years are short.
That first Mother’s Day, that very first Mother’s Day, 16 years ago, is one of those “firsts” that I will never forget. And that determination that filled my mind and heart, when I chose motherhood, I chose life for my baby and a new life for myself, that’s the love I have for my girls now.
And that’s when I became a mom.
When did you become a mom?
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