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."