03 July 2007

Mom and Other Mom

Even before Bella and Bubaloo moved in, there were long and complicated discussions around what to call us. We were involved, the foster parents were involved, the adoption and foster workers were involved, as well as Bella and Bubaloo themselves. These conversations often ran parallel to one another and at no time were more than two parties engaged.

Our adoption worker asked us in early January, “Have you given any thought to what you would like to be called?”

Wifey and I shrugged no. Because it wasn’t up to us. Our soon-to-be 9 and 11-year-old children could call us whatever they would like. We couldn’t tell the kids what to call us other than the names we had been given by our parents at birth. I’d been down that road before with my serial step-parents. No way in hell would I have ever called any of them Mom or Dad.

After their second or third visit, Bella asked her foster father what she should call us. She’d wanted a Mom again for years, but having two at the same time had thrown her a loop in the naming department. He said that she could call us Mom. Bella asked which one. And, her foster father responded she should call us both Mom. But Bella couldn’t wrap her head around how she could have two “Moms,” or rather, call two people by the exact same name.

She briefly contemplated calling one of us Mom and one of us Dad. But since we’re both pretty girly, and embody differing so-called masculine traits, that didn’t stick. It did however, give Wifey and I ample material for an endless series of inside jokes.

It turns out that everyone involved had an opinion on what we should be called. It was like a huge grab bag of naming possibilities was circulating and what we were to be called, and by whom, at any given point in time was determined by a random blind draw from this little black bag.

After a time of building our family, the kids started to try on different variations of Mom to fit us. We suggested that if they wanted to give us the title of Mom, that I could be known as Mom and Wifey could be known be Mama. Sometimes that works, most often it doesn’t.

Most frequently we get called Mom, Mommy, Muuuuuum, Mother, Mama, Maman and others. Only the kids have yet to develop an individual Mom identity that distinctly refers to one or the other of us. With the exception of one (one which in academic-speak I might label a quasi-Derridan-like la difference).

Mostly frequently heard in our house is the bellow of Mom. Half of the time neither of us answers. In part, this is because we’re not quite sure which one of us the children are referring to. And in part, sometimes we both forget that we have this new name.

The other half of the time, only one of us answers to the call. And the response comes in an overly exaggerated and frustrated tone as if we should have instinctively known better, “NO! The Other Mom.”

Mom and Other Mom. That’s the moniker that has stuck most of all. It easily fits into a variety of social situations and wonderfully differentiates one of us from the other. It also clearly defines that there is more than one Mom heading this family.

For example, we took the family on a studio tour this past Sunday and stopped at a place with a wonderful rose garden. Wifey and I were admiring and smelling the various flowers, while Bella had engaged the owner in giving her a personal tour. Part of the conversation we overheard was a discussion on mulch. Matter of factly, Bella explained to the garden owner that unlike here, her Mom uses pine mulch in the garden as her Other Mom is allergic to hay and gets hives.

Mom and Other Mom. It’s fluid. Who is the primary Mom and who is the Other Mom shifts depending upon context. It’s a relational title.

It’s part humourous and part peculiar. We’ll see how its usage evolves in our household. I’m all for organic and novel uses of language. I just don’t know how thrilled I’d be to be permanently referred to as Other Mom.

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