Friday, August 30, 2013


This may very well be my favorite word. To me, it trumps any other maternal name, and I prefer the M-A-M-A spelling. I call my mama Mama to this day.


I was a pushover kind of kid. My mother was bossy, my siblings were bossy, and my best buds were B-O-S-S-Y, bossy. I pretty much did what I was told to do. I remember, or I have created the memory, that I didn't mind doing my friends' bidding. Complying seemed easier than the confrontation that would arise from refusing. Now that I write that, it seems the very definition of a doormat.

However, I also always knew there was a limit, and I had a very strong sense of integrity based on some pretty nit-picky elements. That limit was reached and that integrity was under attack when one morning Amy said to me:
"Sarah, you need to stop calling your mother Mama. We're growing up, and you're supposed to call your mother Mom."
We were all of eight or nine, maybe ten, by the way. I can picture just where we were on Booker T. Washington's campus, under the awning in which open-air "hallway," when my integrity was thus attacked. Completely out of character (and I remember this clearly), I responded,
"That's the stupidest thing I ever heard. I will call my mother Mama for the rest of my life!"

And so I have. For the same reason, I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. But the Mama rule is based on more that just a random declaration one day. I've never liked the name Mom much. It sounds harsh, rebellious, distancing. Mama sounds like love. (The one exception--I had a great-grandmother that everyone, I mean everyone, called Mom. That was sweet.)

And so, to bring this circle round, Maggie has started calling me Mom. I will not lie and say this doesn't break my heart a little bit. Or alotta bit. I knew it would happen (though not at age four!!!), and I had resolved that I would just let it be. But then when it did, I corrected her. It slipped out. Sort of.

I know better: I'm showing her exactly how to push my buttons; I'm giving her fuel for rebellious acts; I can't control her, and I need to let her be herself. So I don't correct her any more, but the other day, when she said Mama, I told her liked that name best. Maybe that was an act of control, too...OK, I admit it was an act of control.

I know to choose my battles, and this one, let's face it, it far less important than battles we will face down the road. But it's a hard thing to let go.

Sigh. (I guess I'll never have a Zipperumpazoo of my davy own.)

Any other mamas feel this way? Do you have any personally important preferences you've had to let go?

1 comment :

  1. I love that Charlie calls me Mama and hope he never stops. Also--you could be pretty bossy too! And lastly--I guess I've had to give up the expectation that Charlie will want to be cuddled with, hugged and kissed (though I still try). That's a little tough, but like you say, you've got to respect your kid's personality.


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