I Still Don’t Feel Like a Mom

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about just how surreal the last 12 months have been. It’s hard not to feel as if I’ve been trying to emerge from some sort of fog. While the world outside our COVID bubble continues to feel distant, like some sort of mirage, it’s hard not to shake what’s going on in my head.

It’s no secret that this pandemic has been hard on moms. It’s hard not to be constantly reminded of just how much of an impact COVID has had on mothers, from isolation to virtual schooling to insurmountable career hurdles. It’s impossible to ignore these facts, and the more I flip through my newsfeed, the more I’m floored by the resilience and strength of the moms in my life and community.

As I’m reminded of their struggles and triumphs of motherhood, it is harder and harder to shake the thought that I just don’t feel like a mom myself.

Becoming a mother is strange. I don’t feel any different, but somehow I now have a whole new identity — a new role that, despite wanting it for years, still doesn’t feel like it fits. I look at all the other mothers I know and think to myself “now those women are moms,” as if they have something I don’t, as if their children are somehow more real than mine. I scroll through Instagram thinking about what exactly it is inside me that was supposed to change the moment my son came into the world. Did I miss some sort of indoctrination ritual that would bestow upon me my official motherhood credential?

Perhaps I’m good at hiding it, but constantly calling oneself “Mumma” when speaking in the third person in the presence of your toddler does not a mother make. Or does it?

My son recently turned 2, and with this came the second anniversary of my motherhood (though I suppose it’s a bit self-indulgent to think of it that way). As his birthday approached, I thought back to the events of days two years prior — the day my blood pressure spiked dangerously high and the doctor told me they would need to induce early; the day my husband frantically assembled the new crib, only to find it had been damaged during shipping; the day of my first failed induction; the day of my second failed induction; the day I watched the clock during my C-section, realizing it was taking much longer than the doctor told me it would; the day I finally held my son.

I know many parents say the first few months are a blur, but every detail of those days and weeks leading up to his birth will always stay with me. They were the last days of my life before motherhood and the first as a mom, but they were also the days I felt more love and connection than I had ever felt before. Then I think about all those other mothers I know — the ones who are just so much “mommy-er” than me — and how, in their own way, each of them has had that feeling of love and connection too.

Even when I don’t feel worthy of the title “Mom,” I remember that motherhood isn’t one-size-fits-all. It looks and feels different for each of us. Motherhood isn’t a persona I have to embody. I can be myself — and also be a mother. And that can look different throughout the different phases of my life, and of my son’s life. Just like he is growing and learning, I’m evolving. Just like he’s becoming independent, I’m finding my way.

Being a mom doesn’t have to look or feel a certain way. For me, it’s in the love I have for my son, but also in the journey of discovering how all these different parts of myself fit together. And all those parts are happy to be called “Mumma.”