Before I had kids I never planned on having kids. There was a moment in the hospital where I would give birth to my first, where I was filling out pre-admissions paperwork and the nurse jokingly reminded me that “mother” was me, and not my own mother. That is when it sunk in that I was becoming Mom.
I had a checklist of goals. A natural birth, breastfeeding, a passing interest in cloth diapering. A stack of books from wildly varied schools of thought on childbirth and raising small children. I had a wide variety of advice that ranged from keeping an open mind about pain relief during labor, to home birth. I had thoughts about cloth diapering, dreams about futures and a ridiculously long list of all the things that I hoped for.
Then, I became a mother.
In the hospital in a maternity ward, surrounded by people that had their own ideas about birth, babies and even my body.
I did not become a mother surrounded by a tribe. I did not become a mother with my own mother by my side. I didn’t become a mother with a network of friends that had been there before. I became a mother alone in an environment that felt like a higher authority. An authority that viewed things in a very different way than I did.
I became a mother with conflicting information coming at me from every angle. I became a mother with a small black-haired child that had impossibly deep blue eyes. I became a mother with a son who cried anywhere but when held close to my heart.
I had always thought that the transition from a woman into a mother would feel powerful, as I viewed my own mother as someone incredibly strong and powerful. Instead I found that it felt like one of the weakest and most vulnerable things.
We are meant to birth within a tribe, surrounded by support. Surrounded by example and having seen these things before. Instead, experiences like the one that I had have become commonplace. My story is one of many variations on a theme, and I count myself as one of the luckier amongst them, because for all the things that I was pressured towards there were few things that I was forced into.
Today I sat with other mothers around my table in my home. We drank coffee and ate lunch and talked about births, about motherhood. About empowering experiences and about ones that left us feeling forced and afraid.
It made me reflect on motherhood. On becoming “mom.”
There’s a birth year and a birth day and a birth time on my son’s birth certificate that mark when the world recognized me as “mother.” This was nearly eight years ago already. In some ways I started becoming a mother much sooner than the time stamped on this official piece of paper. In other ways? I’m still learning, still growing, still becoming.
Becoming Mom is powerful because no one else can “become” for you. There’s no cliffnotes, no bullet list, no method that will make you become a mom. You will do it, though. You will birth yourself into being, and it will be with power and with love.