By Beck

All of my life, I’d been aware of women who I thought were good mothers, and kept mental notes of how they did things – I liked the way one mother celebrated all of the small holidays, liked the way another always did baking and crafts with her kids, liked the way my own mom would talk to us with puppets when we were surly teenagers (Imagine: you are a sullen, black turtleneck-clad 15 year old, and all of a sudden a PUPPET sticks its head around the door of your bedroom and asks, in a Grover-voice, “Why so glooooomy, Becky?”).

And so when I became a mother myself at all of 26, I tried my best to cobble all of those things together, these parts of motherhood that I had remembered and thought good, and in my own turn, became a puppet-talking, cookie-baking, holiday-celebrating mom. And for a long time, I had felt kind of akward and vaguely worried that I was going to be found out, like the police were going to storm down my door and order me away from the pie pan, arrest me for impersonating a real mother. Because of course, the real me was some other, some pre-motherhood self, and I could never really be a mother.

Then one day, of course, the revelation – what nonsense.

To think that my pre-child-bearing self was in some way more authentically me, more real – that the 15 year old me sulking in my black-painted bedroom was closer to some true me than the young woman with a baby in a sling was to pretend that time can move backwards, that we exist only in some fixed earlier spot and that the task of the rest of our lives is to try to get back there.

We grow old and we change and our hearts change right along with us, and the sulking girl in the turtleneck is gone, leaving only the memories of a bratty teenager trying not to laugh and the adult knowledge of the worried mother on the other side of the door, feeling foolish with a puppet on her hand and hoping that she was doing the right thing. 

28 Responses to Changes
  1. Carrie
    September 17, 2009 | 9:51 am

    Great post, Beck!

  2. Natalie / YMCbuzz
    September 17, 2009 | 11:25 am

    Amazing. You’ve eloquently captured what so many of us mums feel 🙂

  3. Chantal
    September 17, 2009 | 11:29 am

    I totally remember in the months (and possibly years) after my first son was born, thinking that I would be discovered as the impostor mother that I was. That someone would see that I had no idea what I was doing and that they would call me out on it. Funny enough I haven’t felt that way in years and this post made me smile recalling my initial fears and insecurities. Great post!

  4. Nicole
    September 17, 2009 | 11:44 am

    AW. It’s true, isn’t it – our hearts change. I like to think that I became a better person after having children, just because I became more empathetic and my heart opened more. I remember being a black-clad bratty teenager myself and I really feel for my mother – who was a very young mother – and how she was just lost trying to make bratty me happy.

  5. Tonggu Momma
    September 17, 2009 | 11:51 am

    I’m tending to think – now – that parenting isn’t mostly about personality, but about purpose. Loved this post, Beck.

  6. Nowheymama
    September 17, 2009 | 11:57 am

    And I will still be me when I have older children, and grown children, and on and on….

  7. heidiannie
    September 17, 2009 | 12:14 pm

    Children and motherhood are not for the faint of heart. Children challenge and stretch you all along the way- even on into their own adulthood.
    Most of the time I’ve been mothering (my oldest is turning 31 this year!) I’ve felt about 2 steps behind, studying and hurrying to catch up but enjoying most of the stretch alongside the scurry!
    We grow up with our children- they help us to become the mothers that they need.

    And then, miraculously, they have children and we get to be grandmothers. Let me tell you- it is ALL worth it!

  8. Rosebud & Papoosie Girl
    September 17, 2009 | 12:21 pm

    Beck, I love this, you nailed it. We are not frauds – what a revelation!

  9. Minnesotamom
    September 17, 2009 | 12:39 pm

    Oh, this was so sweet, though the description of the puppet made me laugh out loud (at work). I have been guilty of using her stuffed animals, talking around the corner, to lure her to her bedroom for a diaper change or nap. I might have to keep it up as she gets older. 🙂

  10. Angeline
    September 17, 2009 | 2:08 pm

    You have been doing everything right, girl. And its so true that we often ‘try’ to mimic other mothers whom we ‘admire’ but ultimately its how OUR children see us that truly matters, ya? *wink*

  11. Anne
    September 17, 2009 | 2:46 pm

    Not a mother, but have had a similar feeling when I became a teacher. I was a little shocked to find that all my students were ready for the next grade at the end of the year!

  12. Hannah
    September 17, 2009 | 2:53 pm

    Yes! I’ve absolutely had that feeling. Almost like an impostor sometimes, like someone playing house (or suspecting that my own PARENTS see me that way!). When I turned 30, I already had three kids and drove a minivan. I felt like I finally inherited my own life, like I sort of had a right to those things now that I didn’t before. Some weight, some validity. It sounds ridiculous when I put it in print. But you’re quite right; there’s no need to feel apologetic about who we’re becoming, as if we’re supposed to stay frozen in this college-aged, self-centered state. I’m glad you put this so aptly into words.

  13. edj
    September 17, 2009 | 4:12 pm

    Oh so true! What a perfect post.

    And I am totally stealing the puppet idea. I’ve got an almost teen that is certain to have some surly days. Tell your mum!

  14. Tammy
    September 17, 2009 | 4:49 pm

    Loved your post Becky. I have been awaiting those same authorities – ready to haul me away for parent impersonation – ever since Patrick was born. At the same time, I have never felt more complete or in the right place.

  15. Erin
    September 17, 2009 | 6:13 pm


    What a phenomenal post. I often feel like a fraud for all those same sorts of reasons and it needs to stop. Thank you for putting it so perfectly.

  16. Omaha Mama
    September 17, 2009 | 7:05 pm

    I imagine all the time that I must be an imposter, that I certainly could not be a grown up with all of these responsibilities? Feels like playing house sometimes.
    I’m still working out the REAL me and who that is…maybe a little bit in limbo with that bit.

  17. Omaha Mama
    September 17, 2009 | 7:07 pm

    Should’ve read your comments first…apparently Hannah and I are twin souls. :0)

  18. Marta
    September 17, 2009 | 7:56 pm

    I really really liked that.

  19. christine
    September 17, 2009 | 10:42 pm

    i KNOW exactly what you mean. i spent so much of my life waiting for my so-called “real” life to start. i thought it would start in high school, then college, then when i got my first big job or when i got married and had kids. then i became a mom and kept waiting for the next bit thing…well this is it. this is me. this IS my real life.

    and i like it. 🙂

  20. Kat
    September 18, 2009 | 3:47 pm

    Okay, now I’m crying again!

    What a beautiful post!!!
    I remember that feeling of “acting” how I think a mother would act because I didn’t know what I’m doing. I still probably don’t know what I’m doing but I go with the flow more and accept it.
    What a smart, smart post, Beck.

  21. patois
    September 18, 2009 | 8:16 pm

    I’ve never know a “realer” mother than you. Or me. Or that lady over there.

    Nicely done!

  22. Carrie
    September 18, 2009 | 9:32 pm

    Oh, my, I loved this – that part about the puppets & teenagers is so great – especially loved the last line! 🙂 Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  23. Lisa b
    September 18, 2009 | 10:35 pm

    oh so true. For so long I felt like an impersonator.
    It didn’t help that we both got asked a few times if our parents were home.

    You inspire me to be a better mom beck. I may have to steal that puppet idea.

  24. Alyssa Goodnight
    September 20, 2009 | 10:06 pm

    Sounds like your mom is hilarious! How can you resist a Grover voice?

    Mothering my first born was a trial by fire–after that I felt pretty comfy as a mom.

  25. Heather
    September 22, 2009 | 1:08 pm

    Thank you for validating all that we do, and attempt to do. Beauty comes with these changes within us.

  26. Painted Maypole
    September 23, 2009 | 1:17 pm

    ah, yes.

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