Ellen Kahn, the director of the Children, Youth & Families Program at the Human Rights Campaign, said the gender binary that underlies “mother” and “father” doesn’t jibe with some parents’ self-understanding and self-presentation: “For queer parents who don’t think of themselves as gender conforming, ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ may be a little discordant with the way they think about themselves.”
Well, they’ll have to lump it because the kid will call them whatever the other kids call their mommies and daddies. I wanted Klara to call me Mamma because that sounds more natural to me. But she heard other kids say “mommy” and that was the end of the “call me Mamma” project. And obviously I’m not going to force her to do it my way because it’s not her role in life to service my hangups, identities, and quirks.
Note how many times the word “self” is used in this very short quote. The biggest lesson every new parent learns is that your precious self takes not just a backseat but the very last seat on the bus when you have a kid. And it’s not easy for anybody. I once tried explaining to my 10-month-old infant that I can’t pick her up right now because my back really hurts. And then I realized I was being ridiculous, laughed and picked her up. It hurt like a motherfucker but it couldn’t have been as bad as what an infant feels when mommy can’t get over herself and be mommy.
And it’s actually a good feeling to have something bigger and more important than the self even if it does kill your back – or interrupt your identitarian explorations.