Sunday, April 10, 2011

Are you a Mommy or a Mama?

A friend of ours had a baby shower today and we watched as 30 or so friends and family members celebrated with gifts and diaper cakes to joyously prepare this woman for the shellshock wonderful life event that was waiting for her and her husband.

No doubt, she, like all of us, is making plans in her head; her dreams filled with visions of what her new family will be like.  What her baby will smell like, the lovely bonding time, the feeling of holding a cooing baby in her arms.


We did that too.  But then, starting with the sixth-sense babies seem to have of picking the exact wrong day to send their mom into labor, we learn quickly that they have minds of their own.  Good for them, hard for us.  And often they pick the most random things to be stubborn about.

Take the traditional "Mommy".  We thought being called Mommy was a given, especially since we'd practically beaten the term to death.  We suppressed our gag reflex to train her properly and be a good, engaging parent.  "Mommy's changing your diaper right now".  "Oh, did you just poke Mommy in the eye?"  and "PLEASE stop crying, I wish you could just tell Mommy what you want!"  (Incidentally, the latter is typically followed by a "will you PLEASE stop talking, Mommy can't hear herself think!" about a year or so later.)

All that said, we always took for granted that we owned "Mommy".  There was no question as to what we were called.  In England (and Canada), it may be "Mum" or "Mummy", but should not be confused with "Mumsy".  According to the urban dictionary, "Mumsy" is defined as "another way of saying mummy. can be more affectionate or used when the child wants something, usually money."  Personally, we suspect "Mumsy" is reserved for eccentric royals circa 1850.  Here, in this home, it's "Mommy".  Dammit.
This is not how we see ourselves.

As a relatively new parent, Poker Chick was still under the illusion that parents have some level of control, and was therefore not prepared for the following conversation, which played out several times a week.

Mama?

 It's Mommy.  What would you like, dear?

Mama, can you-

-it's Mommy.  Call me Mommy.

I don't think so, Mama.  

Who makes the rules around here, huh?

Mama, can you wipe my poop?

And so on.  Now, Poker Chick was not thrilled with this.  "Momma" was inconsistent with the identity she was forming.  Granted we were raising a city girl, but this felt more hood than east side.  "Mother" would probably be more consistent with this neighborhood than "Momma".  And "Mama" was even more bizarre.  We're not "Mama".  "Mama" is some lady on TV with a big family in the 1970s.  "Mama" is a big lady wearing an apron making her own pasta from scratch.  "Mama" is not yours truly.

Looking back, it's not surprising.  "Mama" was Mini's third word, after "hi" and "baby" (pronounced more like be-be).  But still, we fought it.  We repeated the conversation above over and over for months until we felt like a broken record. 

What is it with this "Mama" thing? Is it a new trend? Have children everywhere stopped calling their kids "Mommy"? Has Mini just fallen victim to peer pressure?  What do your kids call you?

They say you can tell a baby's temperament just weeks after it's born.   When Mini was six weeks old, Poker Chick went to a new mother's class and one of the discussions was temperament.  Some babies were mellow, some happy.  Mini?  WillfulHeadstrong. 

Six years later, this temperament is shockingly accurate.

Guess who won the "Mama" battle? 

Welcome to motherhood.

 

2 comments:

A Mountain Momma said...

My girls call me, "Momma", I kind of like it (hence my blog name). I never knew this transition into momma-hood would be so all encompassing. Struggling now to balance my momma-side with my writer-side, hope I can find somewhere in the middle.

A Mountain Momma said...

Hey you,

I have given you The Versatile Blogger Award.

You can find it here: The Versatile Blogger...OMG, It's Me!

Congrats!