Chapter 29, loren
“A Mom is she who can take the place of all others, but who’s place no one else can take.”
Before I had babies, I had no idea exactly what motherhood entailed, nor did I ever imagine that I would be qualified enough to take care of little lives.
When I became a Mom for the first time, the name "Mom" immediately felt as if it fit me more than anything else I had ever been called. It was as if the calling and purpose for my life had always been to be a mom. That paramount realization did not come until my first little baby was placed on my chest after growing inside of me for nine months. I expected it to sound strange to be called a "mom". The title came with so many expectations and responsibilities, yet here I was all of 22 and barely able to take care of myself.
"How am I going to measure up to other mothers?", I use to think to myself.
No manual was given to me on the day my first son was born. I had no idea what motherhood was suppose to look like for me, or more importantly, what I wanted it to look like for myself.
All I knew was that this tiny, little person was now solely dependent upon me, and for whatever reason, I was selected to be his "mom". His one and only mom.
The more I thought about it, the more overwhelmed I became. That was the greatest honor a person could be given. To think that I was hand picked specifically to be the protector, nurturer, and earthly mother to a little life form, was by far an overwhelming concept. Like most babies, the first word out of my son's mouth was, "Dada". Ok, dude. I carried you inside of me for several, uncomfortable months, during that time you bruised a total of 5 ribs, and then I went through horrendous pain to birth you!
I would beg him to say 'Mama' and practice it with him for hours. Then one day, he cried out in his crib, "Mama'“! That moment never leaves your mind. Hearing him call me by my truest name, solidified by role on this planet. From that moment on, I was known as "Mom". I became a mom two more times, and the titled they all granted me was "Mom". Not Mama or Mommy, just simply and sweetly, 'Mom'.
Going through my divorce and custody battle, I began to lose so much of my identity. I was no longer a wife, I was no longer a full-time mom, I was no longer the daughter, sister, and friend I once was.
Honestly, I wondered at times where 'Loren' had gone and if I would ever see myself again. The only thing that remained a constant for me during those times was the consoling fact that - no matter what - I would in some form or fashion always be, Mom. I was comforted by the fact that I would be the only mom my sons would have, and that title was sacred to me. The title of Mom is what gave me the strength to crawl out of the dark places my mind would often take me during that time in life. I heard their tiny little voices saying "Mom", and it saved me time and time again.
The day my son referred to his step-mom as "Mom" was the darkest day I can remember.
My life had been nothing short of setbacks and pain, one right after another. Now, the only thing I had left of my identity was taken. I cringed and saw red. Bright, fire engine red! It was a sting more painful that the countless hours of childbirth or long nights nursing him to sleep.
No, this was a pain that stripped me down and ate at my flesh. "How could my ex-husband allow this?" My anger quickly jumped to the man who I blamed for much of my pain during those times. This was his last bullet to seal the fate of my existence in my sons’ lives, and he hit the bullseye. John had crossed the last line I had left. I can still remember his words the day I confronted him, questioning why he was allowing our children to call another woman 'Mom'. His response, "She is their Mom. She does more for them than you do. She is their Mom, and I will not correct them." Have you ever seen the Exorcist? Well, you should watch it - because the contortions, rage, and eyes of the Devil himself came over me that day. I dropped my phone, fell to the ground, and threw the last shred of dignity I had out the window. Thank the Lord, I was alone that day, and no one was there to witness my fit of rage. From that day on, my mission to validate MY motherhood became my only focus. Every teacher who spoke it, every coach who mentioned it, and every time one of my boys called her 'Mom', I jumped to correct them. My list of examples went like this: "No, I am his Mom!" "Excuse, me please do not speak to her about this, I am the Mom!" "I am your Mom!" "I don't want to ever hear you call her Mom again!" "John, she is NOT their Mom I am! Stop trying to erase me and confuse them!" I think you get the idea. I was mad. More than that, I was non-existent. I felt erased, as if my role no longer mattered. I had gone from being called "Mom" to now being called "Bio Mom" or "Loren" by my ex-husband and children.
What upset me above all else, was that I was not afforded the respect and consideration in having a say on the matter. Their father had made up his mind, and I was corrected for having a voice in the argument. So there I sat, in yet another unknown as what I should do. How could I possibly continue to correct my children and confuse them further on what parent was “right” or “wrong”?
How could I get mad at them? Oh, but I was and I did.
As with all things in life, we must pick and choose our battles. This was a battle I quickly saw myself to never win victory over.
I began to take the invisible wounds, one after another, never speaking about it. Eventually my energy wore out and the breath it took to defend my honorable name, was no longer worth it. That solace came when I took to heart a piece of advice that was given to me, by my own Mom. She said, "You will always be their mom. Did you hear me? THEIR mom. No one, absolutely no one can take away the months you grew them inside of you, or the times you held them in your arms, or the love you have and continue to give them. No one. A baby, always knows who 'Mom' is, because only they know the sound of your heartbeat from the inside." My perspective changed from that point on.
I was Mom, and I am Mom.
We are all 'Mom'. As moms, we nurture, love, protect, care for, and love our babies, and in some cases - bonus babies too. As a woman, it is innate in us all to naturally and organically mother.
I am not a step-mom, but I can only imagine that if I were, I would love those babies as if they were my own. That’s just what moms do.
Now, when I think of the word ‘mom’, I think of all women who share a common bond of being nurturers and lovers to all children. So, whether you are a biological mom, a step-mom, a grandmother, aunt, or adoptive mom - if you are exuding the powers and meaning behind motherhood, then you are a mom
I am, Mom.