It, along with other posts I have seen over the past few months, got me thinking about how we react to the words mother vs. mom vs. mommy and what influences those very visceral feelings.
Growing up, my mother did not hug or kiss or say she loved me very often. When she ever DID say anything it was more, “I do love you…” as if she were trying to convince herself of this fact. She was not abusive per se, but because of her I have to make a concerted effort every day to physically love on my kids. I have to remember to tell them how much I love them. The words don’t come easy even though I feel the love.
The physician role is easy. I am in control because I have distance. As a parent, however, those kids have my heart wrapped up into such a knot that it hurts (in a good way) every time I look at them. I desperately want them to not feel as uncomfortable as I do about getting close to someone emotionally. So I work very hard to be a good role model for them.
As such, I don’t feel close to my mother. We have a complicated relationship and so to maintain a certain emotional distance, I only refer to her as “Mother.” I never call her mom, mamma, mommy…. only mother.
When I use the word “mommy” for someone, it is a complement of the highest degree. Anyone can be born into motherhood, but it takes a special someone to be a mommy, someone who can do more than just rear…. they nurture.
In posts that I have read, some women are offended by being called mommy. Some are offended when called mother. This is similar to the Ms. vs Mrs. debates. Each and every person has very valid reasons for feeling whichever way.
But you know what? No one can read minds. Herein lies the problem. It is inevitable that I and others will offend someone at some point.
Today, as I pondered this post, it made me think about my own mother quite a bit. I decided that I probably don’t give her enough credit. She struggled with the same emotional distance from her mother. In fact, she had a fairly miserable childhood so the fact that she was able to show love of any sort is somewhat of a miracle.
I love you, Mom.
My kids are starting to grow out of using the term “mommy” now and it makes me terribly sad. I think I will be fine eventually, though, so long as they just don’t start calling me “mother”!