* Guest post from Ashley!
One of the first questions we’re asked when folks find out we’re expecting is “what are each of you going be called?” It’s a valid question, but not one I could answer with certainty. Possibly because I figured Elia will really be the one to decide, so why spend calories thinking about it now? Or maybe because I assumed a light bulb would just go off one day and I’d have the perfect idea? The decision was hard for me. It was harder than it seemed it should be.
Alicia, of course, was mom. There was no doubt in that, and there shouldn’t be. But I was torn between selecting something less confusing than one of us being mom and the other being mommy, yet also wanting an “equal” status. Under the restriction that mom/mommy was out of the question, a restriction of my own that was not influenced by anyone else, I started to think about what I wanted the wee one to call me.
My starting point was “baba” because that’s the name of the non-bio mom from another blog I read. I think it’s absolutely adorable. When she relays stories with the baby calling out for baba, it’s super cute and seems SO right for their family. But baba just didn’t feel right. So I looked up other cultures’ names for mom or mother in just about every language possible. Oddly enough, or maybe not odd at all, almost all languages have very similar terms for mother/ mama. I mean, with the exception of a few languages such as Swahili, I was getting nowhere. And I don’t think Elia will learn how to whistle and pop within her first few years, so I ruled out Swahili.
Then I decided to go through the alphabet, trying each letter in front of an “a” to form a 2 syllable word. There was baba, caca (um, no thanks!), dada, fafa, gaga (already taken, darn), haha (like this one – I’d feel so funny!), lala… etc. The only other word that stuck out other than baba was yaya. So I toyed with yaya for a while. But an ex-coworker of mine was called yaya by her grandkids and I couldn’t get over the fact that in my mind it meant grandmother, and I wanted a word that meant the same as mom. “Equal title” kept sticking in my head… and I actually felt guilty about it. I thought my desire to have an equal title was selfish. And as long as our family thought it was equal, that should be all that mattered. But I didn’t feel that way. Something still didn’t feel right.
Without any better ideas, I had resigned myself to be deemed baba. But if that bright idea did strike, I’d easily ditch baba. Boy was I waiting for that light bulb.
One day I relayed the situation to a close friend of mine. Trying my best to explain something she could never understand since her future family would have a mom and a dad. That unplanned, unscripted conversation shed so much light on everything. I hadn’t come up with the perfect name, but the light bulb certainly went off. My true feelings found a way to slip out. I told her “I’m going to be called baba, but I’m not thrilled about it. I just feel more like a mom.” Did I hear myself correctly? I just feel more like a mom. It’s as simple as that. That’s the first time I realized it wasn’t about an equal title, like I made myself believe. All along, my feelings were trying to talk to me. They were yelling at me, actually, and I just ignored them. I feel like a mom. I don’t feel like a baba, or a yaya, or a *whistle pop pop*. I’m a mom. Goshdarnit.
Later on, I had a talk with Alicia and explained everything. She didn’t flinch and agreed that we needed to go with whatever feels right for us. We’ve finally agreed that she’s mommy and I’m mama. I feel so relieved and happy! It was weighing on me much more than I thought. I’d made up my own stupid rule that mommy/mama would be too confusing. Another lesson learned is that I should not impose restrictions on my role, Alicia’s role, or anything that has to do with our family… We should all listen to our feelings and do what feels right. Sounds so simple but sometimes we don’t see the forest for the trees. Also, I’m now confident that Elia won’t get confused at all. Her head is measuring a tad above normal, so that means she’s going to be brilliant. She’ll be saying mommy and mama in no time.