Monday, September 25, 2006
More Name Games
I am writing this despite the fact that the people about whom I will be discussing may (or may not) read this. Frankly, I wish I could just say this to their face, but I am nearly always caught off guard in the situations I am about to describe and become an utter flibertygibbit.
So, the other day I saw some good friends of ours; a lesbian couple with a daughter. They are extremely nice and friendly and I think we would see much more of them if we lived closer. They also really care about us, and are culturally a bit more forward than us upper-midwestern types, so they, well let's just say that they cut right through the bull and get to the meat of the matter.
One of them: So, what will he call you?
Me (proudly): "Baba!"
The other of them, judgementally and clearly ignoring my obvious happy and excited response: WHAT? What about "Mom"?
This sort of thing happens regularly with them and, frankly, with many lesbian couples with whom we come into contact. I don't think any straight person has EVER asked me what the kids will call me. Only lesbians seem interested in this. Not just interested, it is as if they have some sort of stake in what the kids call me. As if, somehow, our movement depends on it.
I have blogged many times elsewhere on the topic (see for example, the first entry, and here, and here) and have come to some conclusions that have evolved over time.
To begin, because I met the SYO when she was 16 months, we decided that we would let her decide what to call me. I was and am so simply giddy to just be a part of their lives, that it still just doesn't matter to me much at all. And if there is anything I've learned, it is that the label doesn't make the parent.
She began by calling me by my first name. This evolved through several permutations including calling BioMom by her first name (to BioMom's parents and siblings' dismay).
Now she generally uses the terms "Mom", "Mommy", or "Mama" to refer to either of us. Frankly, we find this quite confusing and during the day, I suppose, we each respond to her or look to her for clarification. In the dead of night we each bury our head in our pillows and hope she is referring to the other!
Most of our lesbian-couple friends have their kids use some version of "Mom" and "Mama".
I think this is most confusing for the kids themselves and not within the household, but when they are out in the world, referring to their family. My experience is that these kids whose parents are so particular about what they are to be called often resort to their parents actual names while in public just because it is easier. How else can their teachers, friends or friend's parents know which individual about whom they are referring?
Ironically, the child of the couple to which I referred to above does this to me, calling her parents by their first names. I asked her why she did this and she said (in her four-year-old vernacular) that she was just trying to be clear. I asked if her parents were okay with her calling them by their first names. She said they were not.
Now, on to "Baba". As I have posted, BioMom and I have come to the realization that when dealing with a baby, you can't just wait and see what they will call you as there are a gazillion opportunities to refer to the other person:
"Mama is coming home!"
"There is Mom!"
Hence, we needed an identifier.
Lifting the logic and cuteness from Lesbiandad.net, we chose "Baba."
There you have it.
Posted by giddings at 1:07 PM