Is it the moment we first find out … standing over a stick on the bathroom counter? Is it somewhere in the scent of Dreft as we wash their soft blankets and itty-bitty socks? Or does it happen when the doctor lays the sticky baby on our panting chests, as tears stream down our faces to match their own?
When a baby is born, so is a mother. But I don’t believe we ever stop becoming.
With every passing phase, from the sleepless nights and sore nipples to protecting them from bicycle bumps and falls to sending your littlest love into an enormous elementary school, then watching as they turn into their own person with their own ideas and opinions and interests and friends, to the day you send them off to college or into the arms of a husband or wife and their very first home with its own towels and traditions – we become.
Along the way, we collect other mothers – first the ones who mothered us, then the ones we find along the way in car lines and on soccer teams, whose losses and triumphs we feel as deeply as our own. Together, with their folklore and firsthand tricks, we become wiser. We become softer.
Like our children did as toddlers, we stumble and fall. We get into trouble and we find our way out of it, stronger and better than we were before. We become new versions of ourselves every day. At night, we lie awake and replay all the things we said and did and the many ways we would do it all different if we had a chance.
(We do. It’s called tomorrow.)
May all your todays and tomorrows be a chance to become new together – to grow kinder and more connected, to strengthen a bond that was formed before your baby took his first breath. To breathe deeper and love deeper and appreciate every moment you get to mother them in the tiny world you create before they venture out into the big one. To get them ready to travel through life without you, even if you’re always a phone call or a plane ride away.
On this Mother’s Day, when we have been mothering longer hours than ever, in strange and unexpected ways, I hope you take a moment to celebrate the mother you have become – and the precious people who forgive you and challenge you and inspire you to keep becoming, over and over, the one and only mother who was made just for them.
To the mothers holding new babies in your arms and those who never got to hold yours, to the stepmothers and adoptive mothers, the mothers who planned and planned and the mothers who feel unprepared, you are everything your child ever needed.
Thank you to my babies for making me a mother. Thank you to my mother and grandmothers and the mothers I’ve collected along the way for giving me grace and laughter and strength and encouragement to keep becoming every day.