I Still Can't Believe I'm a Mother

Last week I was filling out a new patient form in a doctor's office. In answer to the question, "Do You Have Children?" I automatically checked the box marked "No." It took me a second before I remembered, "Oh, shit! I have a baby!"

I lived my entire adult life -- 44 years and counting -- as someone who always checked the "No" box when it came to kids. Now I have a 7-month-old. And I still can't believe my good fortune. Or that I ever questioned whether or not I should take the parenthood plunge.

In some ways I slipped into motherhood very naturally. Changing diapers, dealing with feedings, schedules, bedtimes, naps, playing with and entertaining, dressing and decorating, choosing caretakers and schools, following up with pediatricians and medical issues ... between my husband and me, we seem to have it pretty well covered.

Yet somehow, sometimes, I still can't believe this amazing creature is ours. For keeps. On some level, I keep waiting for someone to take her from us and thank us for taking care of her during this period of time.

What's that about, I wonder?

It seems like we were just watching her kick and roll around inside my belly, and now we have this little girl with a big personality who can sit up on her own and hold her own bottle. Who drinks out of a sippy cup and a big girl glass and races around like a mini Danica Patrick (that's a female race car driver, right?) in her walker. Who squeals with joy when she sees us and giggles like crazy when we blow on the back of her neck. Who is going to school and making friends. And eating cereal and bananas. And teething. It's crazy how quickly the time passes. She changes every single day.

Pre-baby, the parenting tip we seemed to get most often was, "Don't blink or you'll miss it." They weren't kidding. This girl is going to be walking and talking before we know it and I still haven't fully wrapped my mind around the fact that I'm a mom.

Do you ever get used to being a mom, or am I just weird?

I'm embarrassed to say that there have been more than a few occasions when I've completely forgotten that I am responsible for a child (fortunately, not when she was with me). My husband and I recently planned a trip to the west coast to visit friends and family, and I bought tickets for us to see a couple of shows in West Hollywood during our stay. It took a couple of weeks for me to realize the flaw in our plans. Who was going to care for our child in California while we went out on the town? Whoops.

We've gotten really good at taking turns doing things, and sometimes this includes going to shows and doing other adult activities. Like eating.

But that's okay. I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.

And I guess that even though the vision of me as a mom hasn't yet made it into my dreams (I'm always running about a year behind in dreams. Strange, right? The Joanna of my dreams still has hair and hasn't yet had a baby. Go figure ...), I know I'm a mom at heart. If I had any doubts, they vanished after this past week.

My husband and I decided to take a short trip -- five days and five nights -- as sort of a post-chemo getaway. We went to a spa/wellness retreat type place, and my husband's parents flew in from Wisconsin to stay at our house and take care of the baby.

Now, Mark's parents successfully raised two children of their own and have already proven themselves to be excellent grandparents. They know all of the tricks and have taught us more than a few of them, as have my parents. Their capability and fitness notwithstanding, I found myself leaving a nine-page memorandum of instruction for them. Nine pages. Single-spaced. And that was with me restraining myself. 

This is when I really felt like a mom. A worried, anxious, first-time mom. I had visions of our plane going down, and actually contemplated us taking separate planes so at least one of us would be spared and little Magnolia wouldn't be orphaned. I worried about every conceivable thing that might happen, from the big to the minute. It was insanity.

But I guess that's what parenthood is to an extent, huh? Total insanity and non-stop worry?

If so, color me a parent.

Fortunately, my in-laws were very patient and indulgent and weren't offended by my tome of a child-care instruction manual. (At least I hope they weren't.) And my husband and I had a very nice break from reality. We didn't even call to check in every day. As you can imagine, little Maggs was just fine when we got home.

Another parenting rite of passage survived, by all of us.

As for me, I'm glad to be home with my girl. I like this mom job. I think I'll keep it.


Image via Mark Montgomery

baby first year, motherhood


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Donna Collier

Enjoyed this post a lot, Joanna, and I can completely relate.....the answer is no, you never really completely "believe" that these little miracles are yours to keep and be responsible for. Mine is 10 y/o and while I no longer "forget", I still feel surprised when I get a gift or something that says "Mom" on it; my first instinct is to think it's for MY mother!! ha ha. I figure just about the time it really fits naturally, it will be time for him to fly the coop!! I think, on some levels, this disbelief is just part of the miracle of motherhood. Sounds like you and Mark are really truly rocking the parenting thing and I am so happy you're able to enjoy Maggie Moo every precious moment. With all the other issues in your life right now, it's all the more admirable that you are slowing down to appreciate all her little daily changes. God bless you all.

DebaLa DebaLa

Joanna, glad you're taking time for yourself and husband.

I used to call parenthood and all the things we do and say in its name — one big hormonal acid trip. So, you begin to relax and enjoy it more; get in your groove and stress less. The main thing is to enjoy it! And know that it is not a competition. Save yourself FOR yourself now. You and your baby benefit. : )

Anna Potts

thats so old to have a baby she will be over 60 by the time her baby is 18!!!!!!!!!!!

nonmember avatar NoWay

Anna ... who are you to judge? And it's not too old to have a baby! People in their 40s are usually more secure and ready to take care of a baby. This baby has excellent parents.

nonmember avatar Brandie

I agree . Mathew 7 dont judge other people! I think the comment was very RUDE.... Joanna has proven to be a very strong role model and Mother. I so admire her strength and love she has for herself and family. Lessings to this amazing strong Mom. Prayers always that God will guide you, protect you and heal you.

graci... graciejomama

Joanna, even though my Gracie is almost 10 years old (and she physically came into our lives at 8mos old, 13 lbs....in China) I can't believe I've been selected by God to raise this angel! You are doing a beautiful job and when all of this crap is over it will be even better! Love you lots! Amy


graci... graciejomama

please don't let Anna' s comment bother you......I'm sure you won't because ignorance isn't worth the sadness it can cause :))

Richard Montgomery


Thanks for the nice report. Of course we were not offended with the instruction book. We thought it was funny. It made us want to write a tome back on how to prepare for the in-laws coming for baby care week. We gave up on the idea when we realized we could not come up with enough material to fill a paragraph let alone multiple pages.

It was a ball. Brought back old memories. Thanks for having us.

Dick and Mary Jo

nonmember avatar Liesel

Anna, you need to re-think your way of relating to people, and your reasons for 'talking'. Being rude for thoughtlessness' sake doesn't get you far in life. And yes, I'm being rude now, but your behavior inspires it.

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