Or Maybe It Was The Time My Boobs Leaked Before a Business Meeting

Nate describes the moment with such detail it makes me squirm.

He took Thalia to a local family resort the weekend I was at the BlogHer conference. There was an enormous water slide which he encouraged her to try (you know…dads), but once they reached the top and he looked down, it was suddenly higher than it had seemed from the ground. As in ginormous. A hundred stories at least. Or maybe three.

“One at a time, sorry” the attendant said up top. No matter how much Nate pleaded (Aw, she’s just two…I can’t go down with her?) they wouldn’t bend the rules. One at a time. So Nate went down the long, twisty slide first, then waited for our skinny, scrawny little wisp of a two year-old at the bottom.

As he watched from the pool, he caught quick glimpses of her when she hit visible bends – she was coming down feet first. Then head first. Then feet first on her belly. Then sideways. She careened back and forth along the slide, right to left, as the fast stream of water propelled her like a little projectile toddler missile. Nate was horribly anxious, envisioning her flying over the side, down to the pavement three stories below. (Or was it five stories? The number does increase a bit with each telling of the story). He couldn’t catch a look at her face long enough to know if she was terrified or delighted.

He imagined her crying the whole way down. He imagined her traumatized. Or hurt. Or worse.

“That’s when I knew I was a parent,” he says.

After Thalia plunged beneath the water of the pool into her dad’s outstretched arms, she emerged sputtering and spitting, furiously blinking the chlorine out of her eyes as she struggled to regain her breath.

Her only word: “M-m-m-MOOOOOOORE?”

My daughter the daredevil.

Now after my initial WHAT IN GOD’S NAME WERE YOU THINKING? reaction to the story, I considered the transformation Nate had experienced in that single moment, as he felt the brutal combination of fear, guilt, and overwhelming responsibility for another being. Alone, they were each challenging emotions. But together: “That’s when I knew I was a parent.”

So where’s mine?

Where’s my realization?

What’s my moment?

I don’t know if I have one.

A few possibilities spring to mind: Calling the pediatrician for an appointment and saying hi, this is Thalia’s mom. Or calling the pediatrician and saying hi, this is Thalia’s mom and she’s 2 weeks old and just rolled off our bed.

Maybe it was something more recent, like last week when I let Thalia try on an expensive necklace of mine because even if it broke for some reason, the joy it gave her for thirty seconds would have far more value to me.

Hey wait, I’ve got it! The first time Thalia called me mama!

If only I had any recollection of it.


Nope, I can’t think of that one “that’s when I knew…” moment. It just can’t be distilled into a single event, a riveting cocktail party story, or a last line for my memoir. Although I wish it could.

Maybe this coming to terms with parenting thing for me has just been a gradual process–a slow burn instead of a quick thwack to the head. (Or maybe there was one of those moments and I was just too tired to remember it, which seems entirely possible these days.) It’s just such a bizarre realization, as someone who has always commemorated details of my life with a jotted note, a journal entry, and yes, a blog post.

Wah, I want my moment.

Do you have one? Is this something all parents have? Am I just weird?


57 thoughts on “Or Maybe It Was The Time My Boobs Leaked Before a Business Meeting”

  1. My kids are almost ten years apart and while I am sure I had one of those moments with my daughter (or more? is there supposed to be more than one?), I can’t recall it at all. With my son now, howevever, these moments sort of get piled on top of each other, which leads to mama guilt. I think maybe that before I didn’t think of them as Moments, whereas now I do.

  2. I’m not sure – I can think of two types of moments though that still, after 16 months, make me pause and think “Wow, I’m really a mom, aren’t I?” One is when other mothers ask my advice about something. The other is when we have to leave a party early to take the baby home to bed…and I don’t really mind. But I also remember a friend telling me her moment: when her four year old came to her bed feeling sick, declared she was about to throw up, and my friend, realizing there was no getting to the bathroom in time, simply held out her cupped hands.

  3. Waterslide? Two year old?More? Damn. I can hardly wait until she is 13.I’m still waiting for my defining teenage moment so gawd knows when my parental one is coming….

  4. I don’t think I have a single, standalone moment either. I totally understand the necklace thought – something that was once so precious that I’d probably never let an adult friend borrow is now ok for Q to touch, because it would please him.

  5. I don’t have a standout moment either. My son will 6 in a few months and I still can’t figure out how I ended up being a parent. Me? Really? I do all the “parent” things, and pretty well, I think, but most of the time I’m just confounded that somehow I was entrusted with this amazing kid.

  6. It’s either the up all night cleaning up the puke, panicking about the high fever, trying to find a non-empty tissue box moments, or the looking at them when they’re sleeping & just feeling that overwhelming happiness moments…

  7. I watched an episode of 20/20 on Eric Clapton while my two-month-old daughter slept beside me in her basinette. You know the story of his son’s fall out the window, left open accidentally by a maid? I couldn’t stop crying. Then I realized I have this same reaction when I watch anything, even fictional shows like Grey’s Anatomy, where a child is sick or in peril. Even when I’m not watching TV, I have nightmare flashes of something bad happening to her. When did I realize I’d become neurotic? That’s when I realized I’d become a parent.

  8. Hmmm, I don’t think I have one either. But when my oldest turned 13 last week I had an odd sense of getting old. 😉 And when she tried on one of my sweaters and it almost fit her perfectly I really thought this is it, I might as well give her all my clothes right now. 🙂

  9. I do, but it’s just for my daughter and not my son (twins). When they were born, my daughter had a multitude of birth issues and was not a healthy baby. She HATED to be touched. Hated it. Every touch was pure torture for her for months and months. I couldn’t hold her, nursing her was a gymnastic feat, etc. When she was 7 months old, one night she let me pick her up and hold her. She let me sit and rock her in the rocking chair, and stroke her hair and her pretty cheeks and sing to her. When she let me hold her, that is when I said to myself “I’m a mommy.” Because my baby finally accepted me.

  10. I remember this clearly, and my son is 15. He was a newborn (I don’t remember how new though) and he was on the changing table and started shivering and I scooped him up instinctively, mortified that he was cold. I think that innate reaction to warm him overwhelmed me – it took no thought and the action was more than immediate and I felt it in my heart and gut. I’d felt like a mom before that, but that was the ah-ha-this-is-what-this-is-going-to-be-like moment.

  11. You are not weird… I haven’t had one single moment.. it’s been an accumulation of everyday events. The look in their eyes when they recognize you. The cry of “MOMMMMMMMYYYYY!!!” when they hurt themselves. The first time (and every time) they say “I love you mommy.”It’s all, and more. Infinite.

  12. Hmmmm, I don’t have one either. Though I will be wracking my brain for days until I convince myself that I do. but I do have a single defining moment for when I felt like I was an adult.

  13. As with most of the others…I don’t have a single moment but many..wait til you visit your son and college, take him to the local grocery store and fill his cart because the cafeteria is trying to starve your baby. Once you check out, you hand him fifty bucks of change….you NEVER would have handed him 50 bucks as a teen just for standing there. That’s when you are a mom.

  14. I remember that moment. My oldest was barely one and she was learning to eat chewable solids, which not her favorite activity. I was spooning mushy veggies in her mouth and I accidentally gagged her – Yes I gagged her with a spoon – and she started puking. She wasn’t a spit-uppy baby and had never thrown-up in her life and she was horrified and scared. Seeing the look on her face and knowing what I just did – I immediately put my hands out to catch it and started reassuring her that she was okay and it was all Mama’s fault. Then I looked down and saw my two hands cupped together full-to-overflowing and had that moment of clarity.The day you willing stick your hands out to catch someone else’s puke and aren’t the least bit grossed out. That’s a Oh-Gawd-I’m-A-Parent moment

  15. When my twins were 10 days old, we had to go to the emergency room because one of them was breathing too rapidly, almost panting. When we got there and he was examined, they decided to put an IV in “just in case” he was dehydrated or needed anitbiotics while we awaited test results. As I watched them put the IV into his tiny, TINY arm and saw his blood, my knees almost went but I caught myself and scooped him up to comfort him. Later, when they decided to keep him for the night for observation, and tried to send my husband and his twin home, I put my foot down and demanded that they allow all of us to stay. I was never the demanding type in the face of authority (two doctors and a mean nurse) but something inside me felt very strongly that seperating the four of us at that point would cause even more stress on him (and me, who was desperately trying to nurse) than we were ready to take. So they put all four of us in one tiny room, with two recliners and two cribs, and we slept the night with them on our chests. That was when I knew I was a Mom.

  16. I have that moment every time I have to say I’m Anna’s or Claire’s Mama. As soon as I read that in your post, I got chills. That’s it for me. It’s not the diaper changing, getting up in the middle of the night, or the running hugs. It’s telling other people you are the mama.

  17. I’m a lot like Zellmer. I know the first of my omgwt? moments was when his social security card showed up in the mail. I sat stunned. I had to keep track of this thing for someone else? My someone else? I couldn’t breathe.

  18. No defining moment here, either. I think that it is all the little moments—holding a sick child at 2am, bandaging another boo-boo, making their special breakfast, reading a book for the 1000x, etc—that add up to my being a mom.And, Thalia can come hang out here anyday—-we love the little daredevils.

  19. The first night of his life. He was born after midnight and I spent that whole night awake in the hospital watching him, because it seemed so impossible to me that he could continue breathing on his own without my will power filling his lungs with air for him. The tremendous weight of being responsible for that life was what made me feel like a parent. And also like I was a little completely crazy maybe.

  20. Not sure but I think I first realized I was a parent when my daughter peed on my face and threw up on me at the same time. I didn’t even know that was scientifically possible.

  21. Our first Halloween Mimi got a stomach bug and threw up on me ten times in one day. Somehow I felt like I had been broken in at that point.A smaller one was filling out her pediatrician paperwork the first time and getting to the “father’s name” part. I started to write my own father’s name and relized that nooooo! I’m a parent now, and they want Mimi’s father’s name. Duh.

  22. If the resort he was at is the same one my family was at this spring, all I can say is “Holy sh*t!”Neither of my kids would have gone down that slide.I can’t recall a specific moment, either.

  23. I don’t really have one either–I think being a mom is one long evolution. When mine was only a few months old I still didn’t feel like his parent, much less a parent in general. I feel like a parent now, but I don’t know when that actually happened.

  24. Jamie and I friggin’ loved hearing Nate tell that story. I hate those moments when you suddenly realize, “oh, this may not have been such a good idea…”I think the moment for us was when the little man was a week old. He had a really high billirubin count and had to wear a ‘wallaby’ light machine around his body for 24 hours a day until the bili levels dropped out of the danger zone. (Mind you, dealing with a newborn while they are tethered to a three-foot-long plug is not fun.) Anyhoo, he had to have blood taken from a prick in his heel every day to make sure the numbers were dropping. The repeated wails and looks of “what are you doing to me” were awful. One young visiting nurse was squeezing blood from his foot for what seemed like forever. I caught my husband’s eye (who seldem lets his temper get the better of him), who turned mental and grumbled, “she is getting blood everywhere BUT in the vial.” I realized then that my peacekeeper hubby would filet anyone who dare harm his child. I can’t even imagine what goes through parents’ heads when a child is REALLY sick. Sigh…

  25. I think one of my first moments was watching Titanic one night on TV early in Cordy’s life. In particular, the scene where the poor woman is tucking her two children into their bed as the ship is sinking, knowing they have no chance to survive, but still staying strong and telling them a bedtime story about Tir na nog to help them fall asleep. When I saw Titanic in the theatres, that scene was sad but similar to all of the others. As a mom, I couldn’t stop crying. I’m crying just thinking of that scene now. Pretty much anything on TV where kids are in danger, I’m a sobbing mess now. As a mom, I immediately imagine Cordy in one of those situations, and suddenly I’m a flood of emotion.

  26. A defining moment would be great, but I guess I’ll just settle for this little one — I don’t care if PunditGirl wipes dirt (or whatever) on my clothes. 🙂

  27. Wow…tough one. I remember the first time I thought being a parent sucked (which as a single thought lasted a remarkable three months) but I think it was the morning I woke up in a cold sweat because I’d had a dream something terrible had happened and I needed NEEDED to protect Cheeky. It might have been something terrorist related–not something truly awful like putting my kid on a water slide or anything…

  28. I tried to prepare myself for the parent realization while I was pregnant. Looking in the mirror and realizing, “this is the face of the mama” was really weird for me. Telling my husband, “I’M gonna be the MOM, and YOU’RE gonna be the DAD!” So WEIRD. Still getting used to it.

  29. My moment was when I took Dawson to the grocery store, a normal occurrence, but this time I let him walk instead of riding in the cart. In an instant he was not in my sight and my heart began to beat faster, the adrenaline began to rush. Visions of child abductors running rampant in my mind. Suddenly I saw him on aisle over looking at the junky grocery store toys. But in that instant, I felt sick. I was a mom, and I lost my kid! Luckily the 30 seconds that felt like 2 hours was over. But that’s when I knew…

  30. Mine came the day they told us The Poo was breech, and that we should try to have her turned in the womb. There was an infinitesimal risk of death or harm.I had a series of fibroids, so a C-section meant risk of bleeding out for me, if the doc cut into the wrong area.In my world, where my dad had just died, that risk to The Poo was just too big. So I put myself under the knife instead.That was the moment I knew I was her parent.

  31. I don’t know if I really have “a moment” and I think that is because parenting has been so consuming since the girl, and then the boy, was born. I was plunged into it so deep and fast that I am still trying to catch my breath. The closest I could get would be the first time (of many) that I couldn’t just go where I wanted without seeing to my baby’s needs first.

  32. Mine was a day when Gracie was about 5 months old. I needed to go out to do a little shopping and realized that I had done the laundry for everyone else but I didn’t have one single clean shirt. So, I picked three t-shirts out of the laundry basket, lined them up on the bed and evaluated which one had the least amount of spit-up on it so I could wear it out in public. That was my A-ha moment. In my previous life I would NEVER have left the house looking less than perfect, and that day I had to choose between the least spit-up on shirt.

  33. Just days after my daughter was born, she had to have repeated heel sticks. The lab techs could NOT get enough blood, but they kept trying and trying. My little preemie is howling, and my mom offered to take over the baby restraint so I could leave the room. Tears were streaming from my eyes, but I said, “No, I’m her Mom, it’s my job.” And, I didn’t know the half of it!

  34. My daughter is two and I still have these moments. repeatedly. Like a ton of bricks to my head. Like my mind has just (finally) wrapped itself around the fact that I’m a Mom. It’s like the earth stands still – but in a good way. At first, it’s terrifying, then it’s magnificent.

  35. If Bossy had her moment it’s been replaced in the intervening years with equally important things, such as whole chunks of memorized dialogue from Good Will Hunting.

  36. I gave birth late in the day and just wanted to sleep! My hubby and I brushed our teeth, turned out the lights, climbed into bed/s… and then realized that we had a new baby and he wasn’t sleepy. The lights went back on and we stayed up until he fell asleep. “Who’s in charge now?” was going through his little head!

  37. oops- hubby’s account- that wasn’t Eric who had just given birth!

  38. I’m sorry, I can’t get past the waterslide part. I would have killed him.I DO remember when the terror of being a parent eased… it was sometime after I stopped having nightmares about my son suffocating, falling off of something, or otherwise being in mortal danger, during which I would jump OUT of bed to stand like a mother bear ready to do battle, completely waking up (and scaring) myself and my husband. I did that for a full a year and a half, a few times a week, after he was born.I hope I don’t start having nightmares about waterslides.

  39. I think it wasn’t one pivotal moment but a collection of little ones that drove home the point deeper and deeper… like, the time when I was 8 months pregnant with #2 and Holden was naked climbing up my overalled-body covered in poop. I thought, “wow, I’m really a mom now. I wouldn’t have let some sick toddler anywhere near me during my first pregnancy, but he’s my kid so he can do pretty much whatever he wants”

  40. Kaitlyn, practically from birth, never liked being held while she slept. She wanted to be laid down in the bassinet or crib and left alone, awake, to fall asleep. One afternoon we were at the movies, and it was getting to her nap time, and she was fussing. I picked her up and held her in front of me with her head on my shoulder, walking back and forth in the little side hallway of the theater. When I realized she had actually fallen asleep on my shoulder for the first time ever, I felt like her Mom.

  41. Very thought provoking topic. Thanks. I had to write a blog about it. < HREF="http://jensenblu.blogspot.com/2007/09/when-did-i-become-mama.html" REL="nofollow">When did I Become a Mama?<>

  42. I always KNEW I was a parent you know…but the first time I was sitting by KayTar’s bed in the hospital, that’s when it hit me…and it hit hard. I think THOSE moments…like Nate’s…are born out of feeling the weight of our responsibility for their physical well-being. That fear of losing them or the like. Reakizing just how much of who we are is wrapped up in those tiny bodies.

  43. when did i know i was a mom?when they pulled him out and plopped him on my belly.it was pretty obvious from that point on.i don’t think moms have a “moment,” because we have 9 months to get used to the idea and then we’re just…there.

  44. The day I took our second son in for his first battery of blood tests…the kind they perform by squeezing blood from the infant’s toe. This particular nurse was inept and squeezed our kid’s feet harder in order to get the blood out, which wasn’t working because she hadn’t made the proper initial “poke”. So…I had to hold my screaming infant still while she did what seemed to be necessary and yet I felt I was betraying the child I was supposed to be PROTECTING from physical pain. The procedure didn’t just seem endless…it WAS. And when she proposed switching feet and starting over I started bawling. My baby screamed so piteously that he finally passed out. Literally. Passed Out. I was angry and sad and caught between doing what I thought was supposed to be the right thing and protecting my kid. It was an awful day and one that marked me as a helpless human being and confused parent.

  45. It’s funny, becasue I actually posted recently that every so often, I have one of those “Wow, I’m really a parent” moments. For me, it was never one defining moment, but an ongoing collection of moments that really drive it home that I’m a mom.

  46. The first few months of my now six-year-old daughter’s life were so surreal. I couldn’t believe I was really a mom. I don’t know when I had my “moment” but rather it was a slower, more gradual sinking into a new role and trying it on for size. I like it (almost all of the time). 🙂

  47. Mine was when we opened our one-year-old son’s college savings account. It just felt like such a grown-up thing to do. Up until that moment we had been Mommy & Daddy, but once we mailed the check we knew we were also Parents.

  48. Liz, What a story. Thank you for sharing. It got me thinking and led to my post called Mommy Moment. I have included a link back to your blog as it is absolutly grand. I really enjoy your blog. THANKS!

  49. This may be a little strange, but it’s when I clip Myles’ fingernails and toenails. Because as much as I hate doing it and as much as it causes me to break into a cold sweat, I HAVE to. I’ll probably get the same “mommy moment” feeling when I take him for his first round of immunizations.

  50. I think it snuck up on me, too! I DO know I really FEEL IT when I have to yell at one of my kids to “GET OFF OF THAT!” or “GET THAT OUT OF YOUR EAR!!!”I don’t think there was ever really a ‘MOMENT’….there are just too many to keep track of!

  51. I liked this post a lot. I have accepted that I am the mom of my almost-three son, but today when I asked another mom at the park to hold my nine week old while I pushed my son on the swings, I had to keep looking over at that newborn in another woman’s arms and tell myself that she’s my daughter. I looked at her face, one that I’ve only known for two months, and I just kept thinking that she looks sort of familiar, but not knowing if I really felt totally responsible for her the way I do with my first-born.

  52. I think because for the most part moms are the primary caregivers that the “business” of being mom sometimes hides our moment. So when daddy gets his moment, it’s noticed. My #3 and #4 children are 12 years apart. It was like having a grandbaby in the house rather than another precious bundle of joy, but in seeing what he learned day to day, it made me sad that I can remember some things the other 3 did but not as vividly as I would like – oh, and now I have a digital camera so those moments can stay vivid.

  53. For me it was about an hour after the birth of my first daughter. We were being wheeled to the recovery room and she was making the sweetest little singing sounds (not a cry, not a coo, just a little song)and I felt like she was singing to me. The beauty of that moment was that somehow her voice sounded familiar. I recognized her as if I had known her my whole life and I knew she was mine.

  54. For me, it was my last night in the hospital after having Little J. The alarm on his ankle kept going off out at the security desk and they kept coming in and checking it (and waking him up). After the fourth time, my momma bear instincts kicked in and I just about took out the nurses who kept insisting that they HAD to wake him up and check on the alarm. I got between them and him and wouldn’t let them near him. At that point, I realized that I was the only person who <>really<> had his best interests at heart – I was his mommy.

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