one of the questions we get asked a lot as same-sex parents is “what will the baby call you?”
it hasn’t been an easy question to answer. in fact, we’re getting close to half way through the pregnancy, and we’ve only recently come to a decision about it.
it’s important to me that the baby knows both of us by some variation of ‘mother’. i don’t want my kid to call s or i by our names (unless they choose to as an older child – but even if they do, i won’t like it!), because it feels distancing to me. we’ve been through a lot to become parents, and i kind of feel like the title of ‘mother’ is a kind of honorific, a denotation that our relationship with this person is special.
it is particularly important to me that s has this title. as the non-bearing parent, i want to be absolutely certain that her status as parent never be diminished, minimized, or overlooked. she is as much this kid’s mother as i am, and she deserves to be recognised as such.
but how do you choose the words?
i don’t want to appropriate other languages’ words for mother. that doesn’t sit well with me.
i don’t want to use silly, made-up words.
i do want us to have names that are differentiated from each other, so that the child can confidently call on whichever one of us they want to. we’re not interchangeable, and there will be times when they need me, and times when they need s.
some people (s included) suggested we not try to decide on it at all, and just let the baby call us what they want to, but i didn’t feel good about that either. i want both s and i to have time to get used to this new aspect of our identities, and for me, knowing what my kid will call me is a big part of settling into that identity.
s and i have talked about it on a number of occasions, and each gone away to think about how we feel about different handles for varying lengths of time. the other night we were discussing it again, and s said that she didn’t really identify with anything other than “mum” or “mummy”. i, on the other hand, am perfectly happy with “mama” or “ma” – they have the same meaning to me.
so we settled it. that’s who we’ll be.
now to live up to those titles…