I didn't take the "traditional" route to motherhood. I became a mom through a gradual process that became official in 2010 after years of hard work leading up to it. My child was 4 when I became the official parent. But I've loved my daughter, Taylor, from the moment she was born, but she wasn't born to me. My husband and I have guardianship.
For years now I've dealt with awkward moments and explanations of "Well, I'm not her real mom..." And every time I'd say that, I felt like I was betraying my own heart. After all, I did the same job as a "real" mom... but that's not my title. In trying to cope with this insecurity, I tried to bury the feelings and just let things be...
Several times in the last few years I've been made to feel like less of a parent because I didn't carry my child in my stomach or endure childbirth or breastfeed. But I have changed countless diapers, been peed on, pooped on, thrown up on and given hundreds of baths. I've kissed every boo-boo, dried every tear and spent many sleepless nights making sure my sick baby was okay. I've made my needs secondary to Taylor's in every arena. But somehow even if I could let go of my own insecurities, I'd still receive comments from friends and family that belittled my position:
"But when will you have children of your own?"
"Where is her real mother?"
"Well, when you have your own you'll understand..."
"Well, as a mom, I can tell you..."
I'd think to myself, "What? I already have a child of my own! Who are you to ask such a brazen question? You don't know anything about MY motherhood journey." But I'd smile politely and pretend it was okay. Or walk away. I'd resolved that motherhood was a club I would never be a part of and that that was okay. I'd never wear the badge of honor called "mommy." I wouldn't join any "Just Moms" groups because that would mean having my mom-ness judged. I told myself that even though I'm not called "mom," Taylor still knows that I am the one who has done the job. And her recognition is all I need. And it's true. It is the only recognition I need.
But... I think I've had enough. I am Aunt Kelsey and I'm SO proud of myself and my husband- Uncle Luke. I'd argue that we might work harder at parenting than a lot of biological parents! Whatever the case, we love our daughter with every fiber of our being and every plan and decision we make centers around our daughters well being.
I am claiming my own badge of honor. I'm an amazing parent. I'm an amazing mom. And I'm ready to tell everyone that with no shame and no explanations.