I’ve never been that girl.
The one pushing around baby dolls in strollers as a kid. Playing “mom” while my sisters and I played house. Intuitively nurturing to small children, therefore, asked to babysit once deemed responsible. Planning my wedding in scrapbooks while prom dress shopping for that perfect gown. None of that.
It just wasn’t me.
I was the little girl who had a bowl cut for five years so it wouldn’t have to be pulled back for my soccer games. I wore cargo shorts and orange T-shirts because they were comfortable and functional. I babysat once and put the diaper on the baby backward while the 5-year-old pooped in the corner of the yard. I did go to prom, but it was without a date, and I was not at all upset because I was confident I had no need for a boy. In fact, my plan as a teen was to never get married and never have kids.
I’ve just never been that girl.
I was 18 the first time I kissed a boy. Nineteen when I met my, now, husband. I remember walking through the woods one day, me babbling to him, “I’m not going to get married. And I’m definitely not having kids. I’m going to have a Ph.D. and be starting a thriving career by 30.” Even as we fell in love, I still was not that girl. You know, the one who knows deep down in her soul she wants to be a mother. It just wasn’t me.
Fast forward a decade or so, and here I sit at age 30. A master’s degree and a steady job, but no Ph.D. or thriving career. A scuffed-up wedding ring that is almost 10 years old sits on my finger and three sleeping children lay tucked into beds in the house that that boy from the woods and I own. Around my neck is a necklace reading, “Mama.” I don’t ever take it off because I’m too tired when I flop into my bed at night and too hurried when I jump in the shower in the morning.
There are little socks on my living room floor about 80% of the time and various pieces of my daughters’ artwork serving as custom wallpaper, brightly colored washi tape holding it in place. Based on these facts, you might think I’ve become that girl.
But I’ve never been that girl.
And I’m still not that woman.
My kids roll up to daycare (they’ve all been going since they were 10 to 12 weeks old) with the same hairstyle their teacher gave them the day before, sometimes sporting jammies even when the calendar doesn’t read “pajama day.” My house is cluttered and dinners are simple or picked up from the drive-thru on the way home from work. I’m not crafty or cutesy and my laundry is never put away.
My baby’s diapers are on the right way, but I’d be lying if I told you my kids don’t pop a squat in the yard. And when the school district announced there would be free breakfast and lunch for all students this year, I breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing I wouldn’t have to pack lunch in the mornings for my brand-new kindergartener.
You see. I’m still not that woman.
I don’t feel like I was born to be a mother.
But. When I pushed out my 9lb 11oz daughter six years ago? I do know a mother was born.
And since that day, it hasn’t mattered that I wasn’t that girl, nor am I that woman. What matters is the fact that when my 3-year-old takes my face in her still baby-soft hands and says, “You’re the best mommy ever,” my heart feels like a star turned supernova as it explodes in light and warmth. What matters is that my 5-year old’s first sentence she learned to read and write was, “I love you, Mama,” so she brings home paper after paper with her love for me scribbled all over.
What matters is the immeasurable relief and joy that streamed down my face as the doctor placed my crying, healthy baby boy on my chest after hearing just moments earlier, “You have to push him out right now. We’re losing him!”
It’s these moments and a million others, big and small, that make me know deep down in my soul that I am the perfect mama for these babies of mine. Even if I didn’t scribble their names in my composition book in grade school or try month after month for them to be conceived.
I may not be that woman, but I am their mama.
I see signs at Hobby Lobby and posts on social media all the time that say, “I still remember when I prayed for the things I have now” and every time I see one, I chuckle. Because this life I have now? I still remember when I prayed for a life totally different. But, God . . . He laughed and said, “No, my love, I have something better.”
So, here I am. Not that girl, grown up into not that woman. Living a perfectly ordinary, chaotic, beautifully love-filled life as a mama. A life I couldn’t have ever imagined, and one I can’t imagine ever wanting to be any different.