When is it that you actually become a mum? Is it when you see those two pink lines on a pregnancy test, when you feel your baby kick for the first time, or when you hold your newborn in your arms? I certainly didn’t feel like a mum during any of these life-changing events. I freaked out when I got pregnant (it happened much sooner than planned – not that I’m complaining, as I know I should be grateful for being mega fertile). I found it weird when the baby, affectionately known as Peanut or the alien, kicked and moved around. And when I had just given birth I was exhausted, a bit in shock and it turned out that Peanut did look like an actual alien! That’s not to say I wasn’t awed by these moments, I just didn’t feel that they made me a mother.
Seeing as my daughter is just over nine months old, you’d think I would feel like a proper mum by now, but I’m still not sure I’m old or responsible enough to look after a small person. My life has changed so much since she was born and I’ve been doing lots of ‘mummy things’, aside from the usual parental duties. One example of what I consider to be a ‘mummy thing’ is seriously putting effort into singing nursery rhymes at baby classes in front of strangers. Although I do still find this mortifying.
However, it was only recently that I truly had that feeling of being a parent, a proper grown up lady, a mother. I felt like the kind of mother that my mum was to me. You know, the person I saw my mum as when I was a child. This only came about because my nine-month-old is acting like a terrible-twos toddler combined with a stroppy teenager. She has little temper tantrums when I want to wipe her face or change her nappy or take my mobile phone off her because she has locked me out of it, again. She also hates getting dressed. She screams and wriggles about the whole time. At times I’m worried the neighbours must think about calling social services.
Tonight after her bath I was fighting to get her sleepsuit on. In the end, I wrapped my leg around her and trapped her in a vice-like grip. I wasn’t hurting her, but she couldn’t get away. I know she can’t really understand me at her age, but I told her I was putting her in ‘mummy prison’ and the only way to get out was to cooperate with me. It felt like such a mum thing to say and just the sort of reasoning my own mum used try with me.
That was my moment. Fighting with a small wriggly person and trying to reason with her. As soon as I said it I felt like a proper grown-up mother. I wish I could say I had a powerful story about discovering motherhood when I breastfed my baby for the first time or when she finally slept through the night, but no, it was when she was being an awkward little bugger. I shouldn’t expect anything else really, as apparently I was the same as a baby. Stubborn, inquisitive and hard work. Like mother like daughter eh…