On Mothering and Uncertainty

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When Sophie was 5 days old, Carlos and I took her to the pediatrician for the first time.

I hobbled up to the receptionist’s desk, still sore and weak from labor and delivery and exhausted from lack of sleep, and said in the most confident voice I could muster: “Hi, we’re here for my daughter’s appointment.”It was the first time I had called her my daughter, and the words sounded foreign as they came out of my mouth. I was secretly afraid that the receptionist might think we didn’t look parent-y enough and call CPS as soon as the nurse ushered us back to the exam room.

When Sophie was 3 weeks old, my mom drove us to Dallas to get her passport.

After turning in the paperwork and pictures (yes, until she’s 5, Sophie’s passport picture will be her as a two-and-a-half week-old. No, she doesn’t have her eyes open in the picture) in the morning, we were told to come back that afternoon to pick up the new passport. They said I could come up without Sophie if I presented a valid I.D. and the numbered piece of paper they gave me. At the appointed time, I left Sophie in the car with my mom and took the elevator up to the passport offices. I walked up to the designated pick-up window, said I needed to pick up Sophie’s passport, and presented my driver’s license and the slip of paper.

“Who are you?” the employee asked, not unkindly.

“I’m her mom,” I said. I worried that the employee wouldn’t believe me. Surely I didn’t look old or mature enough to be a mom, or organized enough to be applying for her passport on her 3-week birthday. Her face showed no signs of suspicion, however, and she soon handed me my daughter’s new government-issued I.D., eyes-closed picture and all.

There have been other moments in the last 3.5 months where I have felt uncertain. When I was driving home from Whole Foods on my first solo outing with Sophie and she started to cry and wouldn’t stop. Our first trip to HEB in Saltillo, just the two of us, where I discovered their shopping carts are smaller than the ones at HEBs in Texas and her car seat didn’t fit as well. When I ended up having to take Sophie to get her 2-month shots without Carlos, at a clinic I had never been to. When we got her ears pierced on Wednesday and I, weak stomach and all, was the one who held her tightly as the nurse pierced her ears using only the earring itself. Mexicans don’t play.

When I think back on all of the difficult situations I’ve had to navigate the past few months (even if that difficult situation is just trying to maneuver a stroller through Mexican streets that aren’t stroller-friendly), I’m reminded that I was able to do all of them. Maybe not in the way I expected or on the first try,  but the point is that my uncertainty has not crippled me or defeated me. God has answered my prayers for patience and physical strength and also put people in my life who are more than willing to help a slightly insecure new mom like me: my parents, Carlos’ family, friends, the teenager at the rotisserie chicken place who carried my chicken to the car for me when it was raining and I had to carry Sophie’s car seat.

And maybe one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, I’ll make declarations about Sophie’s relationship to me without being scared that the other person won’t believe me.

“Hi, we’re here for my daughter’s appointment,” I’ll say self-assuredly.

When asked who I am, I will confidently reply, “I’m her mom.”

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