“If you were to see me walking down the street, alone, would you think I was a mother?” Before she even has time to answer I frantically announce that, “this is not a trick question, I want you to tell me honestly, I want to know what you really think.” My eighteen year old sister pauses, she is cautious, not sure what I am getting at. “But…you are a mom,” she says. “Yes, but do I look like one?” I desperately ask again. “I honestly don’t know, you would have to ask someone who doesn’t know you,” she finally answers. Moments later her friend walks around the corner, and rather opportunistically I ask her the very same question. “Well, I mean, you look kinda young, but I don’t know,” she says. “Hmmmmm,” it methodically vibrates from my chest and off my lips. I pause and pretend to let it go, but spend the better half of the evening rummaging through the depths of my heart, the weight of my inquiries. Why do I care? How do I even want them to answer?
Many moons later I think that maybe sometimes I feel lost in the conundrum of motherhood. I feel lost somewhere between my happy, sappy, tired heart, that is finding rooted peace and tangible meaning, and society’s unjust way of glorifying the idea of mothers and motherhood, while being the first overlook anyone or anything who starts to show signs of real life, a life that can no longer fit inside a beautifully wrapped box. I’ve never been one to like boxes, and as a young teenager I declared the whole wide world silly as I proudly declared, “there is no box.” It was all so simple back then. I didn’t understand or feel pulled towards peer pressure and conformity. I didn’t believe in boundaries and I didn’t see barriers. I still don’t, and yet I’ve allowed myself to put up walls, to jump in and out of the boxes that I don’t even believe in. What makes a mother a mother is her all consuming, irrational, selfless love, not just for her babies but for all the babies, for all of humanity, for all of the earth. It’s some really powerful stuff that no fashion or trend could ever disguise. It all seems so trivial and now I feel rather vain. I just look like me, and I a mama.