I’m Not A Mother Because I Made My Son, But Because My Son Made Me

by Danielle Campoamor

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 breakups 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 by the pregnancy and find themselves transformed with each passing, growing month. They're dying to decorate the nursery and buy the 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 children. They're instantaneously altered, forever capable of pinpointing that millisecond when everything 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 women.

I didn't want children; I hated pregnancy. 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 nor 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 with which the women around me seemingly endowed.

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 conceivable exhaustion for the sake of someone else.

He taught me that I didn't need what I wanted and I 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 the person.

He taught me that physical contact can silence even the loudest of screams, and 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 and as incredible as it is terrifying.

There was a time my son cried in pain. He taught me that others can feel the deepest of wounds. He taught me that sacrifice couldn’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 else'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 after the first significant amount of time I spent away from him, I walked through the door and looked at his wide, brown eyes. Then, 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 apart feels like 20, but the touch of his skin and the smell of his 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.