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How My Son Made Me A Mother

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Some people believe pushing a human out of your vagina automatically makes you a mother.

Some people are wrong.

There are women who are mothers way before they have children. They're loving and caring and naturally maternal to, at times, a fault. They take care of everyone around them, nurturing girlfriends through break ups and walking siblings through monumental moments. They're the ones you rely on at three in the morning when you're locked out of your apartment and too drunk to find your keys. They're parents without children.

Then there are women who become mothers the moment they find out they're pregnant. They already feel changed and find themselves transformed with each passing, growing month. They're dying to decorate the nursery or buy the matching outfits and they're already learning to trust their instincts.

And, of course, there are the women who become mothers the moment they hold their child. They're instantaneously altered, forever capable of pinpointing that one millisecond where everything in their world suddenly clicked. They're overwhelmed with an unspeakable emotion reserved for those who bring life into the world. One single point in time arms them with the knowledge and wisdom of a thousand years of procreation.

I am not one of those mothers.

I didn't want children and I hated pregnancy and I felt more scared than maternal when I held my son for the first time. I didn't feel changed when the stick turned blue and I didn't feel altered when my son entered this world. There wasn't a single solitary thing I could do to turn myself into a mom. Not growing a child or holding that child or loving that child.

At first I thought something was wrong with me. I worried that, perhaps, I had made a mistake. Maybe I wasn't cut out to be a mother. Maybe I was missing that quintessential maternal gene the women around me seemed endowed with.

And then my son woke me up every two hours for a month. He taught me that I could push myself past the point of any conceivable exhaustion for the sake of someone else. He taught me that I didn't need what I wanted and would gladly give up what I wanted so he could have what he needed.

There were nights when my son would cry without reason. He taught me that sometimes you don't need to understand why someone is upset, you just simply need to hold them. He taught me that physical contact can silence even the loudest of screams, and that time spent quietly holding someone can be the most calming, soothing act in the entire world.

There was a moment my son reached for my hand impulsively. He taught me what unconditional trust looked like. He taught me that being responsible for the life of another can be as wonderful as it is scary, as incredible as it is terrifying.

There was the time my son cried in pain. He taught me that the deepest wounds can be the ones felt by others. He taught me that sacrifice wouldn’t begin to describe the depths one human being is willing to go for another. He taught me that, after labor and delivery, broken hearts and dying friends, there’s a pain only parents can feel. A pain so intense it lingers, carrying with it the sharp twinge of guilt.

And then my son smiled at me for the first time. He taught me that life-changing moments are often the smallest. He taught me that someone’s happiness is far more amazing than your own. He taught me that there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to hear his laugh or see his smile again. And again. And again.

And when I came home from a morning errand, having spent the first significant amount of time away from my son, and I walked through the door and looked at his wide, brown eyes, he taught me what it felt to be a mother. To love someone so much it makes you cry. To cherish someone so much it physically hurts. To feel so connected to someone that two hours away from them feels like twenty, and all you want is to hold them as if the touch of their skin or the smell of their hair can make up for lost time.

Some people believe pushing a human out of your vagina automatically makes you a mother.

Some people are wrong.

I’m not a mother because I made my son. I’m a mother because my son made me.

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