When my first daughter was born, I had the nagging sensation for at least a year that I was just pretending. I’d go to the grocery store, put my little girl in the front seat of the cart, and push her through the aisles, thinking, “I look just like a mom doing her grocery shopping!”
Or I’d go to story time at the library and I’d look around at all the other parents there with their toddlers and think, “They probably have no idea that I’m not REALLY a mom; how could I possibly be a mom?” I’d read my daughter stories and think, “I’m putting on a pretty good mothering act.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love my daughter fiercely or feel like I was a good mother. It just felt so surreal that after years of not being a parent, after years of being someone else’s child, after years of watching other people – far more legitimate-seeming people – be parents, that I was one too.
How strange that I was now really the mommy. That I was totally responsible for this tiny child. After all, I still felt about nineteen inside, not someone old enough to be a mother.
But having a second child has pretty much entirely erased this feeling. I have the rare moments when I think, “This is just too weird that I’m a mother of TWO,” but for the most part, this really feels like my life now. I can nurse a baby in public without a second thought, diaper changes don’t faze me in the least, and I’ve got a wide arsenal of toddler-tantrum deflection tools at the ready. I walk around the grocery store with the toddler in the front of the cart and my infant in a baby wrap on my chest and I no longer wonder if the person next to me is thinking, “What a nice nanny.”
I don’t feel quite so shocked when people occasionally ask me for baby advice (in the past, I’ve thought, “Do I look like I know anything about parenting? I’m just faking this over here!”).
Two and a half years after becoming a mother, I feel like a real mom.