Aisling Marron: Moments that make you suddenly realise you are a mam

Are the mothers that came before us any more knowledgeable?

*Record scratch, freeze frame*. You’re probably wondering how I got here.

Okay, you are probably, almost certainly, definitely not. But I occasionally find myself perplexed to the point of genuine amusement as to how I have wound up in charge of two children. And not just any two children but specifically, my two children. They are my children. My offspring. The kids.

These things don’t happen overnight and yet it seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.

How have I acquired two dependants? Do other people know I’m not really a mam? I’m still a girl in my head. A girl who happened to have a baby. And then another baby. I’m a girl with two babies. Photos of my mother and grandmothers at the same age show them with grown-up hairstyles and clothes. How can I be a mam when I have the same hair (long and tied up) and clothes (activewear) I had at 13?


When I'm with people that only know me since I've had children, I sometimes get moments of seeing me through their eyes

Yes, my children are closer to their college years than I am to my own, but I presume we all forever view ourselves as being roughly five to eight years out of college? The same way that the 1990s were just 10 years ago and anyone born in a year that starts “20-” must still be an infant. That’s how it feels for me, despite the fact that even my 10-year college reunion is now becoming a distant memory. It’s nearly time for the 10-year reunion of the 10-year reunion.

When I started college, you could smoke in a pub and only one person in our entire class owned a laptop and for the whole of our degree; he was known as Laptop James – “Laptop” to his friends.

I’ve had a few moments of sudden realisation that I am very much a mam (as opposed to being a girl who happened to have a baby, which is different).

When I found myself driving a kid to creche before work while Morning Ireland played on the radio.

As I cut up sausages ordered from the kids’ menu before turning to my own meal, the first time we brought the toddler to a restaurant.

When I heard a friend of the toddler refer to me simply as the toddler’s mammy.

When I tidy up downstairs and leave a little pile/trip hazard of things to go upstairs the next time I’m going up. There’s a similar pile/trip hazard at the top of the stairs for the downward journey.

I have a phone case that has a front cover that flips open like a book. I didn’t actually realise the mamishness of this one until my sister asked if they hand them out to new mothers as they leave the Coombe.

When I meet up with friends that knew me before I had kids, I know that they know I'm not really a mam. Especially if they also have kids and we're walking along with our prams side by side and it feels like we're just playing dolls. Because I can remember them when they were sneaking naggins into nightclubs and dancing on tables and walking to a Garda station the morning after Electric Picnic and requesting a breathalyser to see if they were okay to drive home.

When I’m with people that only know me since I’ve had children, I sometimes get moments of seeing me through their eyes. I’ll be chatting to neighbours and when they ask for recommendations for things like a plumber or where to buy kids’ shoes, I’m able to join in because I am going through all of these things but the whole time I’m thinking to myself: “Oh these people think that I’m a grown-up as well. They don’t know that I’m just a girl that happened to have a baby. Not like them.”

I'm not selfish with these feelings either because I often look at my husband and muse, 'How is he a father?'

When I’m not suffering from imposter syndrome, I’m consciously being a full-blown imposter.

When buying the toddler new shoes, I play the part of the mam quite well: fitting the shoes on and pressing my finger down around the toe area. But guess what? I’ve no idea what I’m looking for. Just give a casual “She’ll grow into them” and people think you know what you’re doing.

I’m terrible at drying clothes. I hang the clothes out and then I take them back in but the only change seems to be that they are now cold as well as wet. Am I the first Irish mother not to know when there’s great drying out?

I don’t even really understand what “winding” is. I never did it. I was only once confronted with this when my dad said, “I’ve never seen you wind that baby.” Thankfully my loyal three-month-old burped on cue so I got to say: “There she is – winded.”

But are the people that went before us any more knowledgeable? There is no type of noise or cry my baby could make, no rash so unusual or nappy so awful, to which my mother wouldn’t ask, “Would you not give her a bottle of water?” The baby’s leg could have fallen clean off her body and looking down at her dismembered limb, my mother would say, “Maybe she’s thirsty?” – then looking up at me (standing before her, willing her not to say it but knowing word for word what’s coming next) say: “Would you not give her a bottle of water?”

I’m not selfish with these feelings either because I often look at my husband and muse, “How is he a father?”

For balance, I asked him if he ever gets imposter syndrome about being a parent and looking completely confused he said: “No.”