Lump It

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.

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8 thoughts on “Lump It”

  1. My kids use Mom/Dad when they’re not being intentional and Momma/Poppa when they are. E.g., “Moooooom! Where did you put my backpack?” vs. “Momma, could you take me shopping tomorrow?” I have no idea where they picked up the latter, as Mom/Dad is pretty universal usage in our world.

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  2. I’m close to a two-mom family and their kids have modified both of the carefully-planned-in-advanced names, and the moms just went with it, because that’s what you do. Binary schminary.

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