Is there a feeling that comes with being a mom? Biological mom, foster mom, step-mom, adoptive mom… hell even fur-mom! Do we all FEEL the same? I know that this may sound like a weird question or a “oh come on!” moment, but truly, I wonder.
What brought this on, Kim? I can hear you ask. I feel a bit weird admitting to what I am about to admit but I’ve always been raw and honest and this question hit me like a wall of bricks last week…
Setting: Campground. Beach side. On vacation.
Little one just spent the whole morning frolicking in the sand with his “cousins” and after an early lunch, we decided on an hour kayak/paddle ride prior to his nap. To say that he was burnt out with contentment thanks to the adventure, would be an understatement! Sound asleep, I was able to lift him out of that kayak, carry him back to our cabin and change him out of his wet clothes when I realised that we were locked out. He was so zonked that he snored as I wrapped him in a towel and sat down on a chair. Head on my chest. Little hands tucked in. He was at peace.
Just writing this, I breath in… I have this little feeling in my belly. Love. Content. Exhaustion and relief that I get to have a zen moment. I (of course) took a picture in that moment and, as I looked at it, thought “wow! That’s the face of happiness!”. However, I then thought to myself that I looked happy in that photo, I do glow – if I may say so myself – but how am I FEELING that happiness? This zenitude, this quiet belly warmth – was that enough of a feeling? There was no UMPH to it. Just a sort of quietness that felt good. A comfort. So (of course) that is when my brain went into overdrive… “Is this how a biological mom feels when their kid sleeps on their chest?”, “would the feeling be stronger or different if this child had come out of my body”, “would the attachment be the same if I was not simply a foster mom?”. I felt a tad guilty that I wasn’t aaah-ing and oooo-ing at this precious moment that I was sharing with this child. I was so very content, but should I be feeling more?
Later, after Timbits’ nap, we joined Alex’s family for dinner and while Alex was cooking, I dared ask. I expressed how beautiful of a moment I just had with our little one, but that I wondered if FEELINGS were different when you are the one who has given birth. Did this lack of strong feelings made me less of a mom? That’s when Alex’s brother chimed in and said that what I was feeling as a foster mom was probably the same kind of disconnected, yet powerful, love that fathers feel towards their children.
NEVER would I ever have made that connection. And for the first time since I started my fertility – and then foster – journey, I could imagine how dads (or the non-carrying partners) FEEL. How dads grasp and recognise the happiness that comes with the title. How they can love despite not having had that 9 months to connect on a deeper level.
But is there really a difference? Is it just something that I am making up because I did not carry this child and my insecurities make me feel less? Do fathers and other “type of moms” actually feel differently when compared to mothers who get to experience pregnancy?
The forever-learner in me wanted to give birth right there and then, just so that I could compare, see if the feelings were the same… then adopt and see if the feelings were the same… then become a step-mom and see if the feelings were the same… do an analytical study, come up with a AH HA! conclusion that would make it easier for us all to understand what being a parent FEELS like!
God knows that we have the same feelings of exhaustion, exasperation, amazement, content,… towards our children – may they be biological, foster, step, adoptive and even fur – but I do still wonder though. Would you have felt MORE than me in that scenario? Were my feelings strong enough to be considered those of a mom? Is there a “mom” feeling that only those who give birth will know and all of us will just never grasp?
Unrealistic… I know!
I am not too certain of that answer, but all I can say, is that in that moment, on that picture – it is definitely the face of happiness!
TO BE CONTINUED…