What It Means To Be A Mother

by Annie Reneau
Anna Omelchenko / Shutterstock

Being a mother means…

  • Understanding why sleep-deprivation is used as torture.
  • Pretending you’re immune to whining, but really having it poke holes in your nervous system.
  • Reminding little people to flush and wash their hands all day long and wondering why this simple habit takes kids years to master.
  • Waking up from a dead sleep to the sound of a child crying, sometimes because there’s actually a child crying and sometimes because your mind is cruel like that.
  • Getting into the car, starting to buckle up, then getting out of the car and dashing back into the house for something you forgot. Usually multiple times. Every time you go anywhere.
  • Driving. Driving. And more driving.
  • Spending inordinate amounts of time and money learning about, shopping for, and preparing healthy foods that your kids will refuse to eat.
  • Wondering when those gray hairs appeared and being convinced that they’d never be there if it weren’t for your children.
  • Lying to yourself when you scrape crusty gunk off of a toy, book or screen and tell yourself it’s not a booger.
  • Lying to yourself when you see a brown smear on the couch or car seat and tell yourself it’s just chocolate.
  • Staring at a sleeping child, in awe of how breathtakingly perfect they are when they’re unconscious.
  • Watching your children succeed and praying it had something to do with something you did right.
  • Worrying constantly if you’re doing things right.
  • Basking in all-consuming love one moment and begging the heavens for mercy the next.
  • Taking thousands of photographs, trying desperately to capture the fleeting, magical beauty of childhood.
  • Crying in the shower because it’s your only private space, only to have little hands knocking on the door anyway.
  • Feeling the days drag on, but the years fly by.
  • Sacrificing what you love for what you love more.
  • Loving so intensely you think your heart might actually burst.
  • Learning that a bursting heart is surprisingly painful.
  • Realizing that everything motherhood entails—the love, the worry, the sacrifice, the awe, the struggle, the beauty, the pain—is all so much more than you expected it to be.
  • Knowing you wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.

Most of us wonder what motherhood will be like, but it’s impossible to know what it means to be a mother until you actually become one. We may all be at different stages and phases at different times, but we can find common ground in these (mostly) universal experiences. After all, motherhood also means camaraderie. We’re all on this bumpy, treacherous, awesome thrill ride together.