I’m used to defending my choices to people. As a pre-teen, teen, and young adult, I was stubborn, rebellious, confrontational, and eager to blaze my own trail in life. It was exciting to do what I wanted, and I didn’t feel like I owed anyone an explanation, nor did I think I had to do what others expected of me. Piercings and tattoos happened (I will never stop loving Hello Kitty but thank heaven I don’t have to look at that tattoo daily!), and I remember conversations with various people who didn’t understand my choices and couldn’t see why I would do such a thing.

You would think that all of those things would have prepared to have thick skin as a mother. First it was “When will you have babies?” to which I fairly quickly started replying that we were working on it. I got pretty quick at responding and didn’t care much about what people thought.

After the infertility diagnosis (both of us contributed equally to our infertility. Holla for being a team!), it turned to questions about if and when we’d do treatment. The odds were NEVER in our favor for that. When we began the adoption journey, it was a lot of “When will you adopt?” “How much will it be?” “Are you going to have an open or closed adoption?” “Can she take the baby back?” (pretty sure that question got a super snarky response), and a bajillion other questions. The ones that caught me the most off-guard were ones about parenting. “Will you breast feed?” “What diapers will you use?” “Are you going to co-sleep?” “What type of formula are you going to use?” “Will you vaccinate your child?” “Will you have him circumcised?” All of those are questions I was asked. I had come to terms with “proving ourselves” to our case worker, but suddenly, everyone else had an opinion. And boy howdy, were they ALL passionate about it.

As I researched all things parenthood, I came across article after article that screamed “mommy wars,” which was something I’d never paid attention to before. Each time I read a new article, I could feel a fire starting to burn deep down inside. Here we were, doing all that we could to be parents, and suddenly, I feel like I was being judged for the way I answered those questions to people who, honestly, didn’t matter.

I became really sensitive to what people might think of me as a mother. I knew I didn’t fit the mold of “mom” to a lot of people. Each day while we were waiting for an expectant mother to choose us, I worried about how I’d be perceived. If she’d like me. If I could be the kind of mom she’d feel good about. Would I do right by her? Would I honor her in all the things I did?

Then I became a mother.

I don’t know that I’ve even been so sure of my choices. Even the confidence I had in my rebellious days pales in comparison. There were those who whole-heartedly believed in us, in me. When people asked questions that were none of their business, I told them. If I gave them a response, I did so with the courage of a veteran mommy bear.

If I had to choose a reason for the newfound confidence, I’d say it’s LT’s birth mom. There is a huge comfort and empowerment to know that before I believed in myself, she believed in me.