Tuesday, September 20

are you my mother?

I caught a glimpse of myself the other day.

Nearly 9am, striding across the parking lot across the street from the church where my son attends Mother's Day Out, twice a week. My 7-month old strapped into the Ergo carrier, diaper bag stuffed with the day's necessities slung over my shoulder. Around me, minivans and trucks out of which poured moms and dads and kiddos all ages and sizes, toting bright backpacks and colorful lunchboxes. All of us heading in, the children to stay behind, and us parents to walk back out, get back into our vehicles and scatter across town to take up again the day's business. Along the way, we share hellos, smiles, glances.

Really? This is me? Am I really a part of this tribe, the mothers and fathers of Mother's Day Out? I've been a mother for over 7 months now, but the title is still kinda ill-fitting, like that shirt or skirt we've all bought that we really really like, but that somehow never feels quite right. All the other moms around me appear to be more at ease in their mothering shoes--it may not be the most glamorous pair, but at least it's broken in and comfortable. And here I am, acting the part, but a bit stunned that I've been cast at all.

I guess you could say it's a bit of a surprise to find myself here so early. Seven months seems a tender age to have your name and initials scribbled onto your possessions in Sharpie pen by a bleary-eyed mother in the dark of early morning. Seven months seems early to have teachers greet you by name in the playground, teachers I swear I must've met, but I could not remember their names to save my life. Seven months is quite young to have a life of your own.

But seven months is late in the life of a mother to not yet really feel like a mother. Certainly the word mother means many different things; I have come to think of it as meaning mainly two things. First, there is mother as something I do. Mothering my child is what I do day in, day out, morning noon and night. It is a series of tasks and responsibilities, like beads on a long long string that I cycle through, finger and worry as the day trickles on. That mother is tangible, tactile, tractable. Second, there is mother as identity, as who I am. Or, more accurately, as who I try to be. To the other moms in the parking lot, to the teachers, to my beloved son, there is no doubt that I am Silas' mom. I am not saying otherwise--I would be a fool to try to. But as I catch a glimpse of myself with all the other moms as we take our children to daycare, I realize: it doesn't quite feel that way yet. I guess I still have a lot of growing to do for the word mother to fit just right.

2 comments:

  1. you know as a mama to four i still don't see myself as a mother at least not in the way i see the other moms. as my 9yo put it, "you're just different. you don't dress like them and i think you'd rather spend time with us than with other moms." true. i'm around a lot of mothers and i can say, we're all different, all struggling and wondering if we're doing it right. but one day you'll wake up and you'll feel confidence and you'll just know, you're a mom. and not any old mom but one that loves and nurtures silas and wants to give him your values and help create his world view. be patient mama.

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