I find myself encountering those comments and sentiments with something close to shock (and maybe a touch of anger or defensiveness). "What do you mean she's not a mother yet? She's pregnant, isn't she? She's caring for a child, isn't she? She's already sacrificing her body, energy, sleep, and possibly self-confidence already, isn't she? She's probably also already feeling guilty and inadequate, isn't she? How can she not be a mother?!"
Pop quiz: answer the following question.
When does a woman become a mother? When she's:A. Pregnant.
B. Nurturing and loving a child.C. Given birth and is caring for a child.D. Any of the above.
If you're not sure, you're not alone. Even the dictionaries don't agree:
Truthfully, I can't remember if my then-husband gave me any Mother's Day gift for becoming a mother or if we celebrated the holiday beyond doing things for our mothers and grandmothers.
But I do remember the moment when the positive pregnancy test "sunk in." Sitting at the kitchen table in our Portland, Maine apartment with the sun's light reflecting off the snow outside and bouncing into the window, I considered and began to understand what the news meant. I began to see flashes of the future, like a slide show. First image: me and my husband holding a baby. Advance image: me and my husband getting divorced (yeah, I could see it coming). Advance image: me and my baby alone. Advance image: handing off my baby to my ex for the weekends. Advance image: playing and laughing with my child. And so on. I could see the journey. And as I saw it, I felt an overflow of emotions bubbling through me all at once: joy, excitement, terror, panic, love, doubt, confidence.
And I changed.
In that moment, contemplating the child I was choosing to bring into the world and into my life, I made my first promise as Mother to Child. I promised to take care of her and love her with my whole heart.
Whether I knew it at the time, I became a mother in that moment of my pregnancy.
And I guess now that I really sit back and recall what I felt like in the beginning of my first pregnancy, I can empathize a bit with the first-timers who are pregnant and not feeling like mothers yet. And their spouses or partners who don't see her that way either.
But just because you don't feel like you're a mother yet, doesn't mean you aren't! You're on your way. Becoming a mother is a journey that begins in pregnancy and never ends.
I hope it's a beautiful journey for you and I hope that you celebrate the mother you are becoming this upcoming Mother's Day.
With love and thanks for your reading and sharing,