Last year on Mother's Day, I was so new to the whole motherhood thing that I described it as feeling like I knew I was a mother, but I didn't feel like a "Mom with a capital M" yet. Sure, I'd managed to keep us all alive for a few weeks, but I was in the thick of that first adjustment to new parenthood, and when asked to describe myself in those first few months after giving birth to Raven, I still found myself for the first month or two going by my standard introduction with just a slight adjustment at the end when my brain fog finally cleared up: "Hi, I'm Torrie, married to the awesome and wonderful Matt, and I teach 7th graders. Oh...and I just had a baby girl."
It's not that I forgot that I was a mom---it was just that it was so new that it was both constantly on my mind yet not quite assimilated with my overall sense of identity yet.
Funny how much changes in a year.
Now, it's the teacher thing that comes last in my introduction, with the husband-and-kid thing taking front and center stage (as I want it to). For awhile, I had talked to Matt about my fears of quitting teaching because I felt like I was losing a major part of my identity and that I worried people would just see me as a stay-at-home mom and that they might not realize what other talents and passions I had.
Like I said before, it's funny how much changes.
It's not that the other parts of me (like my passion for writing or all the energy I pour into teaching) is gone, it's just that it's become a lesser focus. My heart is now, more than ever, at home, and it was a thrilling thing this Mother's Day to realize that in just 4 short-and-yet-excruciatingly-long weeks, I will be opening up a new chapter of my life:
The Mom (with a capital "M") Chapter.
Not that I think you need to stay at home with your kids to be a Mom with a capital M. I don't know when that particular identity shift happened for me, actually, but through the constant repetition of regular feedings, changings, bedtime routines, and triumphant milestones, I finally realized one day several months in that I was a MOM, with all the glorious and hard and exuberant and frustrating and wonderful things that come along with that.
I no longer worry about people seeing me as "just a mom"---I now think, "I want everyone to know that I am a MOM---a woman who is giving her all, every day, to care for her daughter with the fierceness of love that only a parent can understand. I want everyone to know that I put my parenthood and wife-hood first in my life, and that I've finally realized that all those other things--while great--are secondary in importance."
(In fact, even though I am still a full-time employed teacher, there have been several conversations where I haven't even brought up my job, which is something that never would have happened before.)
I used to have so much fear that I wouldn't be the mother I wanted to be, that I would never feel deserving of the title of "Mom." And sure, I still have my days where I wonder if I'm doing the best I can or if I should be making different decisions or if I'll somehow end up screwing it all up.
But on most days, I don't have that fear anymore. I just try and take each day and soak it all in, from the good (delicious baby giggles after a game of chase or a particularly sweet snuggle before bedtime) with the hard (the pain of watching her be in pain from a nasty diaper rash) and the frustrating-bordering-on-funny (her peeing everywhere just as I've gone through the whole diapering routine, which has been made much more complicated lately by the nurse's latest instructions).
I take it all, and I love it. I learn from it.
And I can't wait for the opportunity for it to be my life, day in and day out.
So there you go, Past Me --
It's really happened.
You're a Mom.
And you love it.