February 24, 2010

Mamma Mia

It’s my understanding (but I don’t know this for sure) that most kids go through a phase where they call their parents by their first names, rather than calling them “mom” and “dad.” It’s probably some developmental thing (at least it sounds like it could/should be) or maybe kids just think it’s funny. And really, it makes sense.

We don’t call our siblings “brother” or “sister” (unless you’re a Berenstain Bear). We do usually say “Aunt So-and-So” or “Uncle Such-and-Such,” but even then we use their name.

So, it should have been no surprise when our daughter, Ava, started calling us by our first names. What did come as a surprise was my reaction.

I was really upset by this. And believe me, I realize how ridiculous that sounds. The more I asked her to call me “mama,” the more she protested and kept right on calling me Amy. She really did think it was funny. It took me awhile—though it probably shouldn’t have—to figure out why this bothered me so.

I know I’m Ava’s mom, but because we are different colors, I want to make sure other people know I’m her mom too. Again, ridiculous; who cares, right? For some reason, I did.

Once again, I think I have a heightened awareness or hyper-sensitivity to this because our children our adopted. I am so happy, proud, excited, filled with love, and on and on, that I want to make sure everyone knows that Ava is my beautiful, amazing, wonderful daughter (unless she’s having a tantrum or serious “sass-itude” as we call it, then she’s my husband’s daughter…). In all seriousness, I just want to make sure people know that she’s mine and I’m hers. Even though rationally, I know it doesn’t matter at all what people think. I wondered if I would feel this way if we shared the same DNA, so I asked some friends how it makes them feel.

One mommy friend of mine is Italian with gorgeous olive skin and dark brown eyes. Her children are sandy-blonds with light eyes. When they were younger, they had extremely blond hair and my friend said it didn’t matter what her boys called her, she felt like people thought she was the nanny. I can relate.

A daddy friend of mine, who is black and married to a white woman, said this about his blond-haired, blue-eyed daughter calling him by his first name: I just assume people think I’m gay, and I’m one of her two dads. Ha! That never crossed my mind!

I guess what it boils down to is my own personal issue. Who knows what someone may or may not be thinking about our situation when they hear Ava call me by my name instead of calling me “mama.”

It’s time to let it go. That is, until Kamari starts calling me "Amy."

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