A Mom By Any Other Name
Today's "Laugh Therapy" was brought to you by the letter "M". Call me Mom, Mommy, or Mama - a mother, like calling a rose by any other name, would still smell as sweet, regardless of her moniker. Unless, of course, she had recently been cleaning the hamster cage...or soaking cloth diapers...or...well, you get the picture.
If you can relate...read on, and be healed.
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"A Mom By Any Other Name"
The evolution of a mother is a fascinating thing. Even the moniker itself evolves in equal proportion to the growth of her children.
From birth to age 3, children affectionately refer to their female parent as “Mama.” It is usually the first word your precious baby utters. For a woman who endured 40 hours of excruciating pain just to finally hear this word spoken by the source of her tortuous adventure, being called “Mama” is the perfect justification for the whole ordeal.
Then reality sets in when the word is used to describe anything and everything. Daddy, the dog, and the washing machine repairman all become “Mama.” No longer feeling special, the mother makes sure her child remembers who she is by enforcing vegetable consumption, doing pee-pees in the potty, and going to bed before midnight. After all, it’s hard to forget who your prison warden is.
From ages 4-7, a mother is “My Mommy.” It’s never just plain “Mommy,” simply because a child of this age has attached possession to the woman who greets him/her with Cocoa Puffs and Pop Tarts every morning.
When asked, “Who allows you to make a mess of the kitchen when baking cookies together, knows every word to every nursery rhyme and silly song ever written, and lets you dress the cat up in your old baby clothes?” a child of this age never fails to enthusiastically respond, “My Mommy!”
When asked, “Who is that woman over there smiling proudly through her tears while she spastically applauds your first ballet recital?” the answer, again, is “My Mommy!”
But if you ever have the chance to ask a child, “Who is the best mommy in the world?” make sure it’s not mine you are asking. I’m still making her eat vegetables.
For 8- to 12-year-olds, a mother is known as “Mom.” It’s simple and has an aura of detached familiarity, just like children of this age group. They are much too busy socializing with their friends, participating in outdoor activities, or avoiding homework and chores to be bothered to remember a more complicated name, much less attach it to a parent he/she barely sees on any given day. Heck, I’m lucky if my son can still recognize me when I visit him at school. (“Gee, teacher, she looks familiar, but I just can’t place the face.”)
Kids this age speak in bulletins or one-syllable grunts. “Mom” fits in nicely with their limited speech patterns. I have often come home to an empty house to find a note scribbled by my 10-year-old that reads: “Mom. Park. Joey. 5:00 p.m. Me.” Being an experienced parent/child bilingual translator for vocabulary-impaired juveniles, I interpret this note to mean “Hi, Mom! I’m at the park with Joey. I’ll be home around 5:00 p.m. Love, Pigpen.” When you’re in a hurry to get to the baseball diamond, it’s best to write the way you speak and not the way you feel. Forget about drawing cute little X’s and O’s for brownie points like you did when you were abandoned at the dinner table to eat your vegetables. This is especially true when your ready-to-tease pals are peeking over your shoulder as you write.
A teenager will refer to his or her mother most of the time as “Moooooommmm!” since the name is only spoken in the form of a request, a demand, or a whine. Or out of some kind of perceived embarrassment, like when “Moooooommmm!” hauls out the teen’s bearskin rug baby pictures to show her prom date. After such times as this, the mother is then referred to by names too obscene to print.
Sometimes, a teen will push the proverbial parental envelope and, thinking it sounds sophisticated, may refer to his/her parents by their first names. Big mistake. Why, just tonight, Teen Girl nonchalantly said to me at the dinner table, “You know, Jana, your generation is responsible for global warming and holes in the ozone layer. What do you think of that, Jana?”
I responded sarcastically, “Well, my firstborn child, my generation is also responsible for a hard work ethic that has paid off in spades for you in the form of wardrobe requirements, a roof over your head, Christmas and birthday presents, and college tuition. My generation is also responsible for the invention of creative punishments such as permanent groundings, scrubbing toilets with toothbrushes, and withholding of allowances. Whaddya think of that, Teen Girl”?
I think we’ve reached an understanding. She promised not to call me by my first name any more, and I promised to buy her a new toothbrush.
After she eats her vegetables, that is.
//~"JanaCanada" is an award-winning freelance writer, author of 2 books, blogger, and syndicated columnist.