Once you're a mom, it can be hard to remember what life was like before baby came along and before the orbit of your world revolved around a tiny person you never imagined you could love so much. Like, what did you do with all that time and freedom? It's completely understandable to look back fondly on your pre-baby existence, but there will be moments that make it impossible to forget you're someone's mom.
I always wanted to be a mom. I was ready in my early 20s, but it took a long time for my life to catch up with my innermost desires. When I was "finally" pregnant, it was almost surreal. As in, this is really happening. It's funny, now I find myself starting sentences with, "Now that I'm a mom," which I hope doesn't sound like humble-bragging (my sister refers to this phenomenon as "smug motherhood"). But the truth is, motherhood has become such a central part of my identity. In fact, it's the first word I would use to describe myself, even though I'm new to it, relatively speaking.
That doesn't mean there aren't times when it isn't the foremost thought in my brain. But in those cases, something always happens to jolt me back to that wonderful, frustrating reality: I'm the mom.
When Someone Calls "Mom" In The Store
I saw this play out in real life a few weeks ago at the grocery store. My mom was visiting and shopping separately from me and my toddler. (I can't imagine why. Perhaps because she was yelling, "Pizzaaaaaaa!" at the top of her lungs?)
I saw her and called out, "Mom!" and I kid you not, every woman at the fish counter turned around. As for me? Well, I got a glimpse of my not-so-distant future.
When You Unexpectedly Lactate
Guess what? Turns out your breasts have emotional triggers. Thoughts of your baby when you're at work, or the cry of another infant during your blessedly kid-free Target run, can get your boobs dripping like a leaky faucet. As you toss more nursing pads in your cart, there's no denying you're a mom.
When Your Reflexes Kick In
I'm pretty sure I've saved lives with my ability to react quickly. I caught my friend's daughter by the head as she tumbled down a slide. My evasive maneuvers in the car are the stuff of legends. That biological impulse to keep others safe comes from somewhere, and I'm convinced it's because I'm a mother.
When You Get The Urge To Discipline Strangers' Kids
I'm not sure if it's the teacher or the mom in me, but I frequently have to resist the urge to yell at unruly children. When I was pregnant, my sister and I went to Disneyland for her bachelorette party. In line for a ride, there were two siblings pushing, kicking, and hitting each other right next to us, and dad wasn't doing anything. I informed them that if they didn't knock it off, I'd be reporting them to security.
When You Use Kid Words In Polite Company
Nothing ruins your first mom's night out quite like excusing yourself to take a "tinkle" or asking your friend if she got a "boo boo" after she trips (it's been awhile since any of us have worn heels). You've become fluent in motherese, and you can't turn it off. Perhaps this is all an argument to talk to your kid like an adult, but I wouldn't know. I'm still trying to figure out who's a big girl.
When You Hold Your Hand Out For Garbage
When a student gave me something, I always held out my hand, and that's how I knew I was destined to be a mommy. My toddler thinks it's really important to hand me anything questionable she finds on the ground. I always have that "please be a leaf and not poop" moment, but I still reach for it.
And you will, too.
When You Turn Into The Mama Bear
Heaven help the person who insults your child. "Cheerleader legs?" Excuse me, did you just low-key fat shame my daughter? And don't even think about hurting her because I will go to prison. Once you're a mom, that protective nature often extends to other children. You better believe I'm going to be on my feet to stop a runaway buggy and standing up for the rights of trans kids.
When Bodily Fluids No Longer Gross You Out
I always loved when my dear friend, who happens to be a vet, came to my house. I never had to be embarrassed if my cats coughed up a hairball. Rather than disgust, my friend would respond with interest and investigate it. As a mom, it takes a really special brand of poop to make me gag. So when a new dad asked me to take a look at the pus coming out of his baby's umbilical cord site, I didn't hesitate. I'm not sure I'm pleased about what this says about me.
When You Refer To Yourself In The Third Person
"Now where did Mommy put her keys?" "Not now. Mommy's busy." Sound familiar? That's because we all do it. Motherhood, for most, becomes an inescapable part of your identity. I'm OK with that because I've always wanted to be a mom. I just don't want to sound like a tool.
When You Realize Part Of Your Heart Is Walking Around Outside Your Damn Body
I love the e.e. cummings poem that says, "i carry your heart in my heart (i carry it with me)." I carried my daughter for nine months. She was a part of me. That's not a feeling that goes away when children are born. When you realize that you made this perfect human, you'll never be able to forget that you're someone's mom. And who would want to?