Remember that Britney Spears song, “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman?”

That’s kind of how I feel about Motherhood. For real. Except I’d rename my version of the song, “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Mom”.

I was struck with that thought today, on the drive home from our park, about to hit the Starbucks drive-though. I looked back in my rearview mirror and saw the adorable faces of my two boys, smeared with a mixture of sunblock, cheddar ducks and sand. I thought to myself, “Who has put me in charge of the lives of these two goofs?!”

Seriously, I’m in charge?!

Then my brain starts going deeper, into the endless abyss of mommy thoughts. Most days I still just feel like me, perhaps my 15 year old self, slightly independent but still coming home after a long day of high school and flopping down on the couch asking my mom what was for dinner. At times, I’m my 22 year old self, not needing anyone, but actually needing my mom more then I ever knew, still discovering my own secrets and mysteries, but wanting her to hold my hand through it all and reassure me. When I have a cold, I am 6 again, longing for my mom to cook up some chicken soup and buttered Chala bread, bring it to my bed, rub my back and put on a movie.  In reality, I’m 35 years old and still call my mom throughout the day, who now instead of living a few blocks away in the same city, is a 5 hour plane ride and thousands of miles away, with border control in between us. And I still need her just as much.

I’m still her daughter after all, her kid, her baby. I call her with any problem. When she’s in town, I still hand her my trash, as if she somehow possesses a magical garborater to put it all, just like I’ve been doing since I was 5 years old.

Then reality hits me pretty quickly, when my two boys, 2 and 4, hand their trash over to me, as if to pass the special torch of “holder of all things garbage” over to your’s truly.

Now guess who’s the one who makes (or orders) soup, rubs backs and wipes snotty noses?

And then there is the plain fact that I, solely, am responsible for the well being of these two amazing human beings. The types of men they will grow to be, is largely going to be a reflection of the choices I make, the examples I set, and the attention I give.

Holy F! That’s heavy. I’m a mom?!

At the park, I sit and think of all the things I have to do just keep them safe. First there is crossing the parking lot without getting hit by a car, holding hands, making sure feet have shoes on them, and heads are covered with hats to keep them shaded in the sweltering California sun.  Next is the sunblock, cause what kind of mom am I if I let them get even ONE sunburn?!  Then I have to keep my one set of eyeballs on both of them, running in totally opposite directions. I actually think it’s physically impossible, I should google that. My older one, Ryder is about to jump on a teeter-totter that can easily catapult him high in the air and crash him down in one fell swoop. The baby, Asher, is about to put a handful of sand mixed with (what is that?!) into his mouth, and I totally can’t be in two places at once, can i? How did my own mom do this with 3?!

After that, I have to remember the correct language to use as my 2 year old bashes a sweet little girl in the head with his shovel, so as to set a good example, and I have to handle a situation concurrently occurring, involving two other little girls excluding my older son, trying not to use terminology such as “they are being assholes” or “who wants to play with those little bitches anyway”. OMG, language!

Seriously, someone left me alone with a 2 and 4 year old?!

These are the thoughts that creep in on a daily basis.

Sometimes I’ll be in the car with them listening to my favourite top 40 radio station, a song comes on and I realize, no mother should be letting her children listen to these lyrics. And I snap to attention, that that “Mom” is actually me, and that those two kids in the car are mine, and that I should swiftly change the station or put on that dreaded album with songs that make me cringe after I’ve heard them for the 200th time.

I am sure every mom can relate to that moment in the hospital when her child is born, and it’s time to leave the hospital, and you are like, “you’re letting me leave, with this baby?!” It’s surreal.

And that feeling is bigger now, as my boys are growing and I start to see flickers of the men they will become, the gravity of it all ways on me heavily.

My older son Ryder, he is cerebral, a dreamer, a thinker, gentle and sweet. I am consciously trying to encourage his deep love of music, robotics and space. I don’t want to change a thing about him, just like an abstract work of art, or a jazz compilation, imperfect and perfect all at once. I don’t want to interfere in the amazingness I see in him, unfolding everyday. But I also know, it’s my job, my purpose, to guide him, and nurture all his gifts. I mean, he could be the next Albert Einstein or discover some far away planet, right?

My younger boy, Asher, is wilful, stubborn, goofy and strong. He’s giving my “parenting muscles” a real workout. Channeled the right way, his wilfulness is a gift, I picture the CEO of a fortune 500 company, a pro athlete, or entrepreneur. But channeled the wrong way, man, that could go bad. And that’s mostly on me.

Jeez, I’m a mom.

When that reality hits me, and I come to, from my long stream on consciousness, I look back in that rearview mirror, and the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up, tears spring to my eyes (the good kind) and a sense of pride, joy and pure gratitude overwhelms me. I am a MOM. To the two most incredible boys ever. They will grow up to become two incredible men, whatever that looks like, and I will have been happy to have been their trash collecting, back rubbing, guidance counselling, hand holding life couch.

I’m not a girl, I’m not yet a mom, I’m just me.