Q. My daughter is 3 months old and I still feel so awkward with her. When I was pregnant, everyone assured me that it would just come naturally. Will I ever get this mom thing?
A. Yes. More good news: You’re already getting it.
I venture to guess that the “mom thing” you were expecting simply doesn’t match the “mom thing” that’s actually happening. At least that’s the disconnect I experienced after having my first baby. Weeks after bringing my son home from the hospital, I was baffled that I didn’t feel more like Mom, with a capital M. I thought that giving birth would give me a serene mantle of motherhood, cloaking me in omnipotence. That didn’t happen. And guess what? It never does. To anyone. Ever.
Okay, I can’t speak for all women. Maybe there are moms who became all-knowing the minute they gave birth. (If so, I don’t want to be introduced.) But when I brought my son home, I felt awkward caring for him, and sometimes awkward carrying him — I kept accidentally bumping his head when we’d go through a narrow doorway. I even felt weird being called a mom. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if there was a real Mom standing behind me.
In time, however, I became Mom. I grew accustomed to having a child attached to my hip, boob, leg, or any available appendage. I also came to realize that I would never feel perfect.
Even now, despite my ability to nurse my daughter, fix lunch, and wipe my preschooler’s nose all at the same time, I wonder if I have the moxie to raise caring, responsible kids. I think you will continue to wonder, as well.
Meanwhile, you and I have a choice: We can accept that we are loving mothers, continuously changing and wearing a cloak of elegant imperfection, or we can warm the bench waiting for that perfect maternal being to show up. But I’m pretty sure that her name is Godot, which means she ain’t coming.