Three years ago, on a rainy morning in March, you entered the world.

It was you who made me a mama.

I stared at your scrunched up little face and wondered how you could be so tiny but have such a strong presence. A protective love overwhelmed me, but so too did bewilderment.

How often should I feed you? How do I change a diaper?

It was you who made me a mama.

I stared for hours at that tiny face of yours and I marveled at your features. I fell in love with you more every minute. I wondered how we’d ever live without you, but I also remembered how we had lived on our own, just your dad and me.

I lost the freedom that comes with being a non-parent, and it was hard, no doubt. It was all brand new to me, just as you were.

After all, it was you who made me a mama.

Time passed, and love grew.

Sleepless nights grew shorter as slumber grew longer. I fumbled less, and with experience came finesse.

With experience came confidence and strength. I knew you and I knew us.

It was you who made me a mama.

Over time, I wondered how I would ever love another the way I loved you. I wondered how it would ever be possible—did I have space in this mama heart of mine? I didn’t know. I couldn’t know. I only knew you because it was you who made me a mama.

But, time passed, and we knew it was time to grow again. And when we learned that this time we’d be growing by two, shock filled my mind. Fear penetrated my heart.

Would I be able to adequately love two plus you? Could I show our two the same love and attention I had shown to you?

And though I felt fear, I felt love, too.

And so, we marched forward with time, life changing with the seasons, and again we prepared to welcome new life.

Then, three years later almost to the day, on another grey morning in March, we welcomed our two. And in an instant, I knew. The love was immediate and unmistakable, a feeling warm and familiar.

And just as a nurse had handed me your warm, squirming body three years prior, I was again handed two warm bundles of love. Once more, a protective love overwhelmed me. Only this time, there was an absence of bewilderment.

There was no uncertainty as I fed hungry mouths and changed tiny diapers.

Because, you see, dear child, it was you who made me a mama.

Somewhere between stroking your tiny cheek for the first time and kissing you goodbye before leaving to welcome your siblings, I evolved into someone new.

Somewhere between trying to decipher your brand-new cries, spending long days worrying over whether you were eating enough, and watching your baby face morph into that of a little boy’s, I too transformed into a different person.

Somewhere between hearing your first words; between late nights doting on you through fevers and ear infections; between kissing your tears when you’d fall and scrape your knees; between agonizing over childcare options, preschools, and work hours; between watching you meet milestones; between shedding so much of who I was in favor of a better, stronger version of myself; somehow, somewhere, I became a mama.

I didn’t know it because I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see the invisible progress we made–the hidden changes that shape a mother’s heart as she evolves and grows with her firstborn baby.

I have you to thank for that, my child.

It was your siblings who helped show me the unlimited potential of a mother’s love—the way it can cover all her children like an umbrella in a thunderstorm. But, it was you who first made it rain.

Your siblings blew the doors off my heart, but it was you who built the room.

Because, my love, while your brother and sister showed me the boundless love of which I am capable, it was you who first planted the seed.

After all, my baby, it was you who made me a mama.

Originally published on the author’s blog 

Candace Alnaji

Candace is a workplace civil rights attorney, writer, and proud mom of three. Her musings on work and parenthood have appeared in numerous places around the web. In 2019, she was named one of Working Mother Magazine's Top Working Mom Bloggers. Candace can be found writing about law, motherhood, and more on her blog as The Mom at Law. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.