What does it mean to be a mom? When do you officially become a mom? Is it during the process of giving birth? Or does it happen before the birth during those nine pivotal months of growing a human being inside you? Or, do you become a mom even before the pregnancy at the moment of conception when sperm meets egg? Or does it happen days, weeks, months, even years after the birth when the child in question looks at you with her big, bright, wide eyes full of so much possibility and potential?
Before the birth of my daughter, I only knew about the concept of motherhood as a daughter. As a daughter, I had a mom who was always there for me from the moment of birth to getting accepted into the college of my choice. She was a stay-at-home mom so she was there for all the little moments. I remember going shopping with my mom, taking walks with her, and watching the soccer world cup games while eating spicy Korean ramen in the middle of the night.
Twenty-seven years, my mom gave birth to me. It was a hard labor and I was told that she nearly died. I often wonder what my childhood would have been like if she had not survived. I know that my life would have been drastically different. I would not have grown up speaking Korean and eating Korean food. I would probably have lived in a different state from the one that I grew up in. Without my mom during the most important years of my childhood, I would have a complete different set of morals and thoughts. I would have been a different person.
I’ve been thinking about my mom a lot, particularly since the birth of my daughter. Going through her birth makes me appreciate my mom even more so for the labor pains, for the growing pains (on both of our parts!), and simply being there for me. Before the birth of my daughter, I didn’t really understand what it was like to be a mom.
But now, I realize that it is in the little things. Yes, the actual process of birth plays a HUGE part in becoming a mom. But then, your life begins — your new life begins after the birth of your child. You have become a mom. You are now responsible for a human being that you helped create. That is both terrifying and awe-inspiring at the same time, causing me to do the very best I can with my child.
So, to answer the questions that I posed in the beginning of this post, I believe that being a mom is a lifelong process. You officially become one at the moment of conception and then again at the birth of the child. And then, you become a mom again each and every time you experience the little moments of your child’s life. That includes being there for your child’s first smile, first laugh, first diaper change, first cry, the first time they walk, the first time they start eating solids, the first time they go off to school, and so on. Because at each of those moments, your child will look at you and smile and you will know that it is all worth it. It is all about the little moments that happens each and everyday after you bring your child into the world.