So many times I heard this phrase: “When you are a mother.” It is always meant casually, sometimes even as a joke. “Sleep now, because when you are a mother….” Or “When you are a mother, you’ll see things differently.” Another phrase that should come with a warning. When do you become a mother? I certainly didn’t feel like a mother when I first became pregnant. I’m not even sure I was a mother when my sons were born. But, as one woman I talked to said: ”I’ve done the most difficult thing that you will ever have to do as a parent, saying goodbye to my child! You can’t have your heart broken by the loss of your child and not be a mother!” Giving birth does not make you a mother either. Any woman who has adopted a child can tell you that! So if I definitely was a mother by the end of my pregnancy, did I stop being a mother when my baby died? Did I become a mother sometime in my pregnancy, only to lose my motherhood status?
Who gets to decide who is a mother? Do I only become a mother when somebody else acknowledges my mother status? Can I be a mother if no one knows about my child except me? What does it mean to be a mother anyway?
A mother is someone who has a child. You can only be a mother in relation to someone else. When that person is gone, people forget that you are a mother. But you still know. You know you’re a mother.
My rainbows are seven and five, and no one today denies my motherhood status. I still can’t say I know everything about motherhood! I have no idea what it is like to parent a teenager, or an adult. I hope to learn these things in time. I send my heart out to everyone who is a mother with no living children. I see you and acknowledge your heartache and pain. You are definitely still a mother, if you want to be. Only you can decide if and when you are a mother.
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