I have many names — a first name, a middle name, and a last name, along with several nicknames — and I will answer to just about every one of them. Sometimes I answer to “Ma’am” or “Miss” or even “Hey You.”
But unless you are my child, please do not call me “Mom.”
Long before my husband and I had children, I knew that I did not — under any circumstances — want him to call me “Mom.” In fact, I didn’t want to be called “Mom” by anyone who wasn’t my child. I cringed when the nurses referred to me generically as “Mom” instead of taking a couple seconds to look at my chart to find out my real name.
I hate it when strangers ask me, “Is Mommy having a party tonight?” when they see the case of wine in my shopping cart. I don’t want to be called “Mom” by my husband in the presence of our children. And while I’ve gotten used to being called “Mom” by everyone from my kids’ pediatricians and eye doctors, it doesn’t mean that I like it.
The role of a mom is special and sacred — no doubt. In fact, some people might say that the role of a mom is so special and sacred they want the constant reminder. But I believe that precisely because motherhood is so special and sacred, that only my children should call me “Mom.” Like a private nickname, it is a role and title that’s reserved only for my kids. I have loved the evolution from being called “Mama” to “Mommy” to “Mom.”
But even more than that, there seems to be a weird obsession in our society to simultaneously glorify and trivialize motherhood. We revere mothers, while at the same time patronizing them with the qualifiers of “mom” and “mommy” to roles and activities. Writers who are mothers are called mommy bloggers. Mothers who socialize are on a moms’ night out. Female friends who happen to also be mothers are mom friends.
Why do we do this? Why do we add the word “mom” before anything and everything involving or concerning mothers? Does the word “mom” somehow differentiate it? And if so, how?
For some people, the “Mom” moniker is a welcome and constant reminder of this most important role. But, for me, the motherhood cloak — the role of mom — is so omnipresent that I relish any and all reminders of the “me” that exists apart from motherhood. The core woman who was, and still is, is alive and well underneath this velvety coat of mom-ness.
We mothers are many things. We are caretakers and nurturers, healers and teachers, organizers and leaders. But these qualities exist regardless of our titles as moms. They are inherently part of who we are, just like our love of college football, our propensity for swearing, preference for dark red cabernets, and a multitude of other characteristics are part of who we are. The maternal parts of our lives do not overshadow the other pieces of ourselves; they co-exist peacefully alongside one another.
Yes, we are “Mom” to one or more tiny little people. For most of us, being a mom is one of (if not the) most beautiful role we will ever have. Being moms to our children consumes us, strengthens us, and defines us. But we have other identities and roles as well — friend, wife, daughter, woman — many of which pre-date our roles as a mom and are no less important. Let’s not forget about those roles and identities.
So, unless you’re my kid, please don’t call me Mom.