Friday, November 14, 2008

What's in a name?

Mama, Mama, MAMA, MaaaaaaaaaaaMaaaaaaaa, Mama, MaMa, MAMAMAMAMAMAMA


Some days I just want to change my name, lock myself in the bathroom with a good book and a bottle of wine.

Wait a minute..... I've already changed my name once since becoming a parent. I haven't always been Mama.

One of the added layers of being a same-sex couple is deciding on names. Like all couples we obviously had to decide what to name the baby. But we also had to pick who's last name he would have. Most un-married straight couples give the kids the father's last name. After all, we still live in a very patriarchal society. Our family only has matriarchs though, so what to do? Our solution was simple. Pick out a name for a boy and a name for a girl and give each one the last name that sounded best with it. So if the baby's a boy he would get my last name and a girl would get Hilary's. As you all know Liam is very much a boy, so he got my last name.

The next name decision we had to make was what this kid would call us. Hilary was steadfast in her desire to be called Mummy. Not Mommy. Mummy. It's what she called her Mum, and what her Mum called her Mum and so on. I grew up calling my mother Mom, or Maman since I was being raised to speak French as well. But Mommy and Mummy sounded so close to each other that I thought it would be confusing. So we searched and searched and searched. We looked into other languages and other cultures, but nothing really jumped out at me.

Until Hilary suggested Mimsy.

I tried it on and took it for a spin. Yeah.... I liked that.

And so Liam came home to Mummy and Mimsy.

From the get-go no one else liked it. Friends snickered, older relatives couldn't pronounce it or remember it. I stuck to my guns though! I was Mimsy! For our first Christmas as parents Hilary bought me a set of engraved napkin rings. Mummy, Mimsy, Liam and Guest. The scrapbook contains a page entitled "Mummy, Mimsy and Me". I was determined that this name would stick and people would just get used to it in time.

Then Liam started to talk. I don't know exactly how the transformation started. If you told him "take this to Mimsy" he would go to me. He could point to Mimsy in pictures, he knew the difference between Mummy and Mimsy. I kept a list of his first 100 words, and it shows that on June 27, 2004, just weeks before his 2nd birthday, he started to say "Mimi" for Mimsy. Then in September of that year there is a notation that he started calling me Mama. Today he has no memory of ever calling me Mimsy and thinks it's pretty weird.

I am thinking of swithching back, even just for a day, so that when the Mama, mama, MAMAs start up again I can ignore it without guilt.
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