No matter what your relationship may be with your own mother, the concept of “motherhood” and what it means to be a “mom” holds near-mythic status in most people’s minds.

Some mom archetypes are reverent: The strong, unwavering mother bear that ferociously protects her cubs, or the self-sacrificing angel-woman who chooses to have-not so that her kids can have.

And then there are those controversial extremes of the aggressive “tiger mom,” pushing her kids to excel at the cost of everything else, in opposition to the earth mother who gives her kids too much freedom of expression and not enough vaccinations.

The point is that very few of us actually fit neatly into one of these extremes, and end up parenting using a mish-mash of moments that fit our lives – a concept now referred to as “buffet parenting,” (a little from column A, a little from column B) instead of adhering to a strict methodology.

We mothers are not archetypes or stereotypes – we are complicated people. And as such, there are few absolute milestones to becoming a real mother, other than getting a child somehow. That said, I think many of us parents who are trying to get by in the 21st century will recognize a few of these moments when, early on in parenthood, you find that the title of “mom” finally fits you, too.

1 | When you try your own breast milk…and it tastes pretty good, honestly.

 

2 | When you know the location of every coffee drive-thru in town (and a few clutch DQ locations) because getting that baby in and out of the car seat to go into a store is just not an option.

 

3 | When both you and your cutie wear matching diapers postpartum.

 

4 | When you really and truly spit on a Kleenex to wipe something off your child’s face, like a maniac from the 1980’s.

 

5 | When you do a Google image search for “poop colors.”

 

6 | When you finally get home, but sit in the car for 45 minutes because the baby just got to sleep.

 

7 | When you get your boobs out all over town, and all the cool people respect you for it.

 

8 | When all of your favorite pants are high-waisted jeans or tummy compression leggings.

 

9 | When your husband/wife/partner touches your lactating boobs while canoodling and you feel sooooo awkward.

 

10 | When you receive a “chewable necklace” as a gift – and you’re psyched. 

11 | When you cry because you can’t produce enough breast milk, or when you’re proud as punch that you can fill a milk bucket faster than a Guernsey.

 

12 | When you leak pee into that nice hot bath you’re soaking in, but decide not to let it harsh your mellow.

 

13 | When you finally love something more than your dog.

14 | When there’s nothing you can do about the silver dollar-sized breast milk marks leaking through your shirt, so you totally own it.

15 | When you legit pee the floor because you recently moved ten oceans and a big fat baby through your lady region. 

 

16 | When your arms are so buff from lifting and carrying a big fat baby!

17 | When you see a TV show/movie about a kidnapped child and completely lose your mind.

18 | When you try to poop faster because you hear crying.

19 | When you openly sob over how small a sock is.

20 | When reclining in a dentist’s chair to get a tooth drilled kind of feels like a relaxing, meditative break in your day.

21 | When you feel the need to get a short, jaunty haircut and a lip waxing.

22 | When you’ve been singing so much that your throat hurts.