I wrote a post a a couple of weeks ago about the 10 things I like about not having kids (yet) and it has been on my mind a lot lately. It was the idea of having kids, coupled with the idea of becoming a mum that a friend of mine were discussing.
She is 7 and a bit months pregnant and she was talking about how being a mother already has changed her life. The decisions she makes, her habits, the way she looks at her future. I can completely understand that. It did, however, bring this question to the forefront of my mind: When does a woman become a mother?
For some it's easy - I'm sure there are women out there who are certain they became mothers the minute their children were placed in their arms. I am referring to bio mums here, of course, the ones who gave birth to their babies. Some will claim they felt like mother the minute they saw the two blue lines on thep pregnancy test. Others will say when they first saw their baby in an ultrasound, or heard his heartbeat.
In adoption, still, things are even more complicated. Is it when you accept a match? Is it when the court pronounces you a parent? Is it when you meet your child for the first time, when you feed her, hold her, change her nappies? Or does this kind of motherhood need more time to grow?
I don't know the answer - in fact I have a sneaky feeling there is no one answer, no definitive right or wrong. I am sure that there will be people out there who will never consider me a "proper" mum because I did not give birth to my kids. I guess that is their right. On the other hand I have carried children, albeit not to term. Does that make me a mum to them? Was their a switch flicked when I saw my baby in the ultrasound, when I heard her heartbeat?
I am becoming more and more of the opinion that motherhood is more like a seed, rather than like a switch. It is a seed that is planted when you begin to think about motherhood, biological or adoptive. It sprouts when you fall pregnant, or when you file your paperwork. Development might stop, but the seed is there, waiting to grow, when watered properly again.
The seedling grows when you see your baby, it starts getting leaves when you hold it, the roots get bigger and stronger each time you hold him when he cries, each time she looks into your eyes.
I definitely have a seedling in me. It is slowly growing, even without the kids being here. It's asking for more water and sun and I'm mot sure I can let it... because I am still not sure that all will go well with our adoption.