Gaining a name

I may have mentioned this, but for a while there we were trying to get Nico to call Marta “Mama” and me “Ama.” There was a great theory behind this. I can’t quite remember what that theory was, but it had something to do with the fact that we’re speaking Spanish at home and both Mama and Ama are words that a baby speaking Spanish could easily pronounce. Whereas mommy or mom aren’t.

The problem with that theory was that a baby could also not very easily distinguish between Ama and Mama. And so what happened for a while was that Nico just called us both Mama, but mostly she just called Marta that and I was this nameless person who had to clean her diapers and rock her to sleep for an hour and a half straight.

So one day I said to Marta, “You know what? I want to be mom.”

“Really?” she said. “Are you sure?”

I was, sure. I mean, I felt a little weird about it, like I was going to damage Nico by changing my name on her mid-first-18-months-of-life.

I also was a little embarrassed to have to tell the very nice, but also very nervous women who work at Nico’s new daycare that we had decided to change my name. They had been trying to hard to get our previous names right and I could tell they really wanted to support our alternative family and not screw up by accidentally calling me Mama or Marta Ama or god forbid Dada. And then I came in and changed the game on them. I thought, seriously thought, for a moment that maybe I was going to give lesbian moms a bad name with all my indecision about my own name.

But then I thought, fuck it, I want a name my daughter can say.

And that has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my brief life so far as a mother. I am now fully and sometimes quite audibly “Mom.” Marta is still “Mama.” And when Nico wants one or the other of us she uses the appropriate term.

I knew having a name would be important to me, but until she started calling me “Mom” and asking for me by the name “Mom,” I never realized how important it would be. I swear I feel closer to her because of it. Like we can now begin to develop a real, mutually supportive relationship because we both have names. And because I’ve been distinguished verbally from Marta. It’s so simple it’s magical.

Next task: get Nico to stop calling Finn “Dada.” 🙂

7 thoughts on “Gaining a name

  1. And maybe because that’s what you called your mom growing up too? my kids call me both mamá or mom depending on what language they’re using to speak to me. But when they call me mamá it feels a little bit different.

    Congrats on your name MOM!


  2. Sometimes I’m reminded how simple life is when you’re old and single and used to having people of all ages calling you almost anything–often under their breath. And I’m glad that Molly doesn’t speak human, because then she’d probably start calling me Mom too.


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