For the longest time, being a mom — and being an actual adult, really — felt like something other people did, but not me. My parents were real parents, other people are real parents, but me? No. Even though I've known I wanted kids for pretty much forever, and even well after I got pregnant, I felt like an impostor — until I put a car seat in my car. Things started to get a little real then, but it wasn't until after I gave birth that I experienced postpartum moments that made me feel like an actual, real-life mom.
Though giving birth was the most transformative, mind-blowing experience of my life, birth didn't actually make me feel like a real mom. Sounds weird, but since I've never seen any of the people who make up my mental images of motherhood give birth, that moment isn't actually linked with any feelings of "Momness" for me. Stuff like dropping off and picking up kids, and being skilled with using strollers, and changing diapers like a pro, are. So once I started having those kinds of moments, I started to feel like a for real for real mom.
Even still, I occasionally have moments where I feel like a mom fraud, like any minute the Parenting Police are going to realize I've been momming without a license and pull me over or something. But so far I've been getting away with it, and my little one is certainly convinced that I am, indeed, his mama. So when I feel like a fake, I think back to moments like this, and remind myself, "Oh yeah, I'm totally a mom. Just look how many babywearing selfies I have, and how much money I've spent while wearing him at Costco."
The First Time I Buckled Him Into His Car Seat
Putting the car seat in the car was trippy enough. Putting an actual baby in there? Next level.
The First Time I Took Him To The Pediatrician
My mom always used to joke (perhaps a little grimly, in hindsight) that she stopped having a name when she had kids, and became “The Twins’ Mom.” That's what I thought of when I started to fill in my own name on the pediatrician’s sign-in sheet, then realized they were looking for my son’s instead.
When Wearing Him At The Store
Whenever I'd seen other shoppers wearing their babies around stores and farmers markets and such, it always seemed like the adultiest thing an adult could do. So once I had my own baby to wear around, I felt like I'd finally been let into their club. “Yes, grown-ups. I'm one of you. I, too, have a small person, and nutritious leafy green vegetables in my basket.”
When I Got The Hang Of Breastfeeding
Few things are as clumsy, awkward, and even painful as when you're first trying to figure out how the heck to make breastfeeding work. But when we got the hang of it, and I was able to actually use my nursing clothes without feeling like I had an entire hand of just pinky fingers, it all felt way more real.
The First Time I Successfully Folded Our Stroller In A Public Parking Lot
It was all one-handed and graceful, too — straight into the back of our Subaru in one fluid motion. I am Mama, hear me *click*.
During Our First Stroll Around The Neighborhood
“Yep! Here I am, momming it up like a pro with my still-clean stroller."
(I felt even more legit when my baby got big enough to drop snacks in there, and I got tired enough not to care. Nothing screams "I have kids" like a trail of crushed Cheerios or Goldfish crackers in all your and your kids' belongings.)
Taking Him To Storytime At The Library
Being all by yourself with a new baby can feel weird, like “What am I supposed to do with this little person?” But going to mom and me events like Library Storytime feels really Official™.
While Reading Him Stories
Between effortlessly slipping into that “Storytime Voice” we all do and sharing my own childhood favorites with him, reading my favorite stories definitely made me feel like a real mom.
The First Time I Brought Him To A Birthday Party
Wrangling a baby at a birthday party? Yeah, it doesn't get much more mom than that, IMHO. One-handed cake eating is now my extreme sport of choice.
When I Achieved Pit Crew Diaper-Changing Abilities
My first diaper change, I was so bad that I tore the little adhesive tabs off while trying to close it up. By the end of our fourth trimester, I could change a diaper in 90 seconds or less, in the dark while half asleep, because I had so much practice doing exactly that.
Every Post-Birth Trip To Costco
From the first time I got my Costco membership card and every trip since, I've maintained a “Look, World! Look at me, buying responsible adult items in a cost-effective manner!” grin on my face. So of course I felt like a serious mom when I finally got to walk in with a baby on my chest.
When I Gave Him His First Bath
Something about getting his little soap and washcloth and adorable hooded towel together, then gingerly cleaning him made me feel very motherly (and overwhelmed by cuteness). Baths can be kinda gross, but feeling like an uber-mom definitely isn't.