Technically I was granted the title of ‘Mother’ on 30th April 2001. The birthday of my precious firstborn son. But what I was not expecting, and what no one tells you, is that you don’t immediately feel like a mother. In fact, I felt like an imposter.
I half expected a nurse to tap me on the shoulder as we were leaving the hospital, to stop me from walking away with this precious little bundle. My bundle. Of course no-one did, and that’s when I realised, this is real. This is my child. He is mine. The first real thing that is actually mine. This living breathing tiny marsupial belongs to me.
For a while I felt like I was just playing house. I was 22, not ridiculously young, but still I was at least 10 years younger than the other Mums’ in my Mothers’ Group. They had careers and mortgages and well paid Husbands. I had a ditched University degree, a rental agreement and a husband who was still studying. It all served to make me feel more like a fraud. Like I was pretending to be an adult. Like this mothering gig was an act.
I can’t really say when that feeling went away. It just did. One minute I was staring at this tiny little being afraid that I’d break him, and the next I had him scooped into my arms knowing exactly what he needed. Knowing that I was the only person in the world that could calm him. Knowing that I earned my title, I was no fraud.
And every day since I am reminded that I am a Mother.
Oh let me count the ways…
I knew I was a mother when I stood at the supermarket checkout rocking a loaf of bread.
I knew I was a mother when the midwives at the hospital greeted me with “Hey, it’s you again!”
I knew I was a mother when I dived into my handbag for my keys and found a pre-sucked-sticky lolly, a matchbox car and an odd sock.
I knew I was a mother when I stopped being revolted by bodily functions.
I knew I was a mother when the Wiggles ‘It’s a Wiggly Wiggly World’ DVD made me nauseous –in fact it still does (and not for the reasons you’d think)
I knew I was a mother when I happily paid $250 for tiny shoes that would inevitably be worn 3 times.
I knew I was a mother when I paid $180 for school photos that I knew would be nothing less than hideous, and that they’d then spend their lives in the bottom of a drawer.
I knew I was a mother when I picked up my babies dummy, dunked it in my wine/coffee and sucked it clean before popping it back in bubs mouth.
I knew I was a mother when I wiped drool with my sleeve
I knew I was a mother when I cut my Childs’ hair. (In my defence I wasn’t attempting to channel Joh Bailey. I only ever shaved the boys’ heads when they were little….still; I have created an illogical fear of haircuts)
I knew I was a mother when I could breast feed my baby whilst vacuuming. True story.
I knew I was a mother when I could juggle a feeding baby, a crying toddler, and their two squabbling siblings while stirring a pot on the stove, taking a phone call and still drinking my wine. (or is that just alchoholic? ;-))
I knew I was a mother when I changed Captain Clumsy’s dirty nappies on the floor next to the toilet so that I could reach the toilet to vomit (morning sickness, or should I say 24-hours-a-day-sickness, with Princess)
I knew I was a mother when I reflexively, and accidentally, smacked someone else’s child in a McDonald’s playground because they were pummelling my baby.
I knew I was a Mother when I answered questions with ‘Because I said so’
I knew I was a Mother when I wanted to take all my childs’ ills, every cough, every sneeze, every tummy ache, and suffer for them.
I knew I was a Mother when I suddenly realised, and was so grateful for, my own Mother.
It might take a while to creep up on you, this realisation or identification of oneself as Mother, but when it does, it just keeps coming and coming and coming.