Growing up, my mom and I always talked about whether or not using the term "mom to be" was appropriate or not. She and I both thought...why "to be"? Aren't you a mom, the second that baby starts to exist?
You see, Mom had always been very honest with me about the fact that I wasn't her first child. I have a brother or sister in heaven. I always think it's a sister...mom always thinks it's a brother. Someday I'll get to know for sure. I always wanted a brother...so that would be cool if mom is right.
But we always used specific terms with that baby. It wasn't an "almost" baby. (Seriously, someone said that once.) It was my big brother or sister. And mom always referred to the baby as her first child. I knew that she had miscarried at 4 months and that the shock and pain had been as real as if she'd held that baby in her arms.
That knowledge and honesty helped shape my own opinion of that "to be" or not "to be" issue. That coupled with the fact that God tells us in His Word when life begins...the moment that baby is conceived. As Christians, we believe that right? We spend millions of dollars on pro-life/anti-abortion campaigns. We have argued and fought and forced legislation through our respective political affiliations. We believe that life begins at conception.
If we believe that life begins at conception...then why do we tell a mom that she isn't really a mom until a baby is born?
I know my mom was pained on many occasions by that careless opinion. Her own healing process was made even harder because she felt like no one really understood how connected she was to that baby...her baby. Her child. She was a mom without a child. But according to everyone around her...she wasn't a mom. Not yet. To them, she wouldn't be a mom until that first moment when she held me in the hospital after I was born into this world. I can't imagine that. To know something so wholly with your heart and mind...and to also have everyone around you simply brush over it. Heartbreaking.
About a week before I found out I was pregnant my sweet friend told me her baby had gone to be with Jesus. She will never get to hold that sweet little family member in this world...but oh how glorious the day when they meet face to face in eternity!! I kinda hope I get to see that.
Through different conversations with my friend, I knew that she too felt the pain of knowing that for a few brief weeks here on earth she'd been a mom to a baby she wouldn't get to see here and now. Now she was a mom who's baby lived in heaven. She'd also felt the pain of others just not understanding that. I was thankful for my own mom's honesty with me growing up and for her part in helping me understand that a mom is a mom...the moment that baby is conceived. I was thankful that I was able to pray for my friend with that in mind. I was thankful that I didn't add to the pain she was experiencing.
Since we started telling friends and family about our baby, I have had to take the "to be" comments with as much grace as possible. But my patience has started to wear thin. I am a mom. Not a future mom or a mom to be...a MOM. Now.
I voiced my current mom hood recently. A family member was confused about why I had bought Andrew a Father's Day card and was excited about it being his "first" Father's Day. (I was actually pregnant on Mother's Day and was so sad that I didn't get to celebrate my first one because I didn't know yet.). They felt it was silly that I was asserting our parenthood status. Specifically I was told...your not a mom yet. To which I replied, "Oh yes, I am. And Andrew is a dad." This family member then specified that I wasn't technically a mom until I physically held that baby in my arms. I firmly re-stated that I was already a mom and that I became a mom that second that baby was conceived. They disagreed and we left it at that. No sense in causing family drama. But my question that night was...if we truly believe that life begins at conception, why (WHY?!) do we not believe that parents begin there too?
My mom has a child in heaven. Her child has a mommy on earth. My friend Lisa, has a child in heaven. Her child has a mommy on earth. I have a child. And that child most certainly has a mommy and daddy who loves them right now and forever. Not to be. Never to be. Always. From the moment they were known by God who knit them together to the moment eternity comes and beyond.
So to be or not to be? Not to be. A hundred times over.