Sunday, October 3, 2010

A year ago, I was a new mom: trying to figure out how to change a diaper without my baby arching away from me and screaming his lungs out, exactly how much food a one year old was supposed to eat, how to keep my little guy from rocking nonstop in his highchair during meal times, how to get him to fall asleep and then to sleep through the night.  My sister told me at the time that she and my BIL liked to look at a video they took of their oldest daughter's first diaper change at home because it made them feel like they'd come so far.  She laughed about how it took two of them a good five minutes to finish the task when soon after she could change a diaper by herself one-handed in 2.7 seconds.  

I remember wondering if I would ever feel like that as a parent. Competent, natural, like I had it under control.  Because those first few months I wasn't sure it would happen. I felt like an imposter.  Maybe it was because he was one and not calling me Mama.  Maybe it was because I was his fourth mom.  Maybe it was because he wasn't legally ours.* I loved him with everything I had in me, and in my heart he was my son, but I wasn't sure I would feel like I was his mom. Did anyone else feel that same distinction? When we went out in public and someone told me how cute he was, out loud I would say "thanks," but in my head would follow, "we're adopting him so we don't deserve any credit for it." Same when someone would say how well-behaved he was, or how smart he was,  or how happy he was.  

I'm happy to say that caveat (we're adopting him) has stopped popping into my head every time our guy gets compliments.  Not that we deserve or don't deserve credit, but just that it doesn't matter. My response, external and internal, stops at, "Thanks."  I don't know when or how it happened, except maybe time, daily living, building attachment, but there is no doubt that I'm my boy's mother.  I know he has another mother who would have given anything to have kept him and two more who mothered him when he was alone and most needed it, but I'm his now-mother, his everyday-mother, his forever-mother. I'm his mother. I no longer feel the need to qualify my motherhood. 

I've been looking back a lot as the one year anniversary of L joining our family came and went. Maybe it's the looking back that gives perspective. Perhaps it's got something to do with the one year mark.  Isn't that why one year old birthdays are such a huge deal to parents?  Because the first year is HARD and to have fumbled through it without major harm to baby or parents is surely something to celebrate. And, although I didn't start with a newborn, I feel pretty darn celebratory about making it through this year and coming out the other side feeling like a regular, normal parent. 

*We're still waiting for a finalization date for those who were wondering.  We've been told we should hear this week sometime about a few date possibilities.  


Barb said...

CONGRATS!!!!!! You are doing a fabulous job! I know it! :) I didn't feel the "don't feel like his mother" bit, but I know other bio moms who did. I DID, however, feel like I was doing a horrible job for the first few months and wondered if I would ever feel better about it. I did and do!!!! :) Ah we are so lucky aren't we? Boys are wonderful.

Ms. J said...

I. Totally. Get. It.

I am my eldest daughter's third mother (birth mom who grew her & nurtured her for about 8 wks...then foster mom/family who gave her an amazing one year...oh and two stops at a social welfare institute in-between all of this)...and the feelings and thoughts you describe mirror many of my own.

Congratulations on a hard-earned milestone (but oh so worth it)!

Wanna Bee said...

you give me hope - we are still waiting to have our child placed and to begin the struggle you now have behind you. I'm sure more are to come - Good Luck! :o)

Claudia said...

how AMAZING that you have come so far with your little man. A year ago, could you have believed that you would feel so at ease? It's never going to be easy, but what a joy to be at ease together! Congratulations on a year!