Today when I picked Adelade up from school, she got in the car and said, “Hi, Mom.” And the universe halted for a split second. In my mind I was screaming, “WHAAAAAT????? My name is MAMA! I should wash your mouth out with soap when we get home!” But, my expression didn’t betray me. After a moment the planets began orbiting the sun again, and I put the van in drive and pulled away from the curb.
In my rear-view mirror I studied the pigtailed stranger who occupied my backseat. I went through all of her little friends at school in my mind, trying to decide which little brat to blame for teaching her that she should call me Mom. Then I chastised myself for thinking that her friends are little brats. Immediately after that, I ranted and raved internally about television shows where the dreaded moniker is used and abused. I blamed Hollywood for poisoning my baby’s mind with such a name: MOM. I thought of all the negative things that are associated with the word…Mom Jeans. Mom Hair. Teenaged eyes rolling and “MO-om!!!”
Mama is my name. Mommy is also acceptable. From Emerald, Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma will be tolerated until such time as she can properly form the two-syllable and more appropriate “Mama.” When I birthed these children, yes, when I labored for thirty hours with Adelade, when I stayed up with her for eight hour stretches at night and held her dutifully while she screamed in my face, I remember thinking, “Well, at least I am her Mama. She will never forget that.”
Shouldn’t she have been asked to sign some kind of agreement at birth that she would not stick a hot poker in my heart by calling me Mom when she is but seven years old? She could’ve at least given a fingerprint or a blood sample or something. But, alas, no agreement was drawn up (thanks a lot, lawyer husband), and now I have no legal recourse at all.
Thankfully, before bed she called me both Mama and Mommy, and I remembered how adorable and awesome she is. I suppose she was just trying out the new dreaded grown-up version of my name, and I guess now that I have heard it depart from her lips, I won’t be so shocked next time. Maybe all of the oxygen won’t be sucked out of the atmosphere when I hear it again. I hope that’s the case.
Just another sign that my original baby is spreading her wings and her vocabulary. I’m all for vocabulary building, but I would be a-ok with just omitting that one, that MOM, from the dictionary. I suppose there are worse things she could call me, but I can ground her if she calls me names. When I hear Mom, I just have to act cool with it. “Hey,” my expression will say, “I’m a cool mom with mom hair. I can dig it.” But, inside, I’ll just be a Mama wondering where her baby has gone. Oh, seven years old, almost eight, why’ve you got to break a mama’s heart? Ah well, this Mama will love you no matter what. And this Mom will, too.