My daughters have been reading for about five years now, long enough for me to have written them quite a few notes and emails.

Even so, signing off on the aforementioned missives still feels about as strange to me as it would be to look in the mirror and see the face of an old woman rather than my relatively young one. I can’t shake the disconcerting emotions that flood me when I have to write “Mom.”

Every single time, I pause, and for a second I consider signing “Sarah” instead. After all, that’s who I am, right? “Mom” is my mom, not me.

I didn’t realize until the first time I signed myself as “Mom” how etched in my being my own mother’s title was. She wrote my sisters and me lots of notes when we were growing up — some were to remind us of chores, some to express gratitude for a job well done, a few to teach a lesson, and every single one was signed “Mom.” I can see her perfectly even signature in my head now. I have a hundred copies of it in my attic.

How can I be “Mom” when she is? I have trouble reconciling myself with this, but only when I have to write it down, as silly as that sounds.

I guess part of it is because I still feel so young. I know I’m not the only one who at times looks at my kids and thinks, “How can I possibly be mature/responsible enough to have these little people depending on me? Wasn’t I worrying about finals and basketball games and where to go to college just last week? When and how did they get here?”

I don’t know when, if ever, I will feel comfortable signing “Mom.” Maybe it’s just seeing the title in writing, making it more real than even the kids addressing me as such all these years. More likely it’s the association I have with my own mom. I sign everything else “Sarah,” so using her signature just feels wrong, as if I’m an imposter, a little girl dressing up in her mom’s clothes and playing house. When the heck did I grow up?

But “Mom” I am, whether I like to sign that way or not. And even if it feels brand new and foreign each time I write those three letters, I’ve been a mom for over ten years now. It didn’t happen overnight.

If I feel like this about signing myself “Mom,” imagine how I’ll react to writing “Grandma.”

Gulp.

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