21 December 2011

More crazy talk

You do things your way, America. I do things mine.

The term “mommy” has its place. My toddler calls me Mommy, because she is two, and she can’t speak any better.

But “mommy” ends with the toddler years in my house. “Mommy” is lovely in the mouth of a baby, a delightful descant to the family symphony. In the mouth of the older child, however, it becomes unsettlingly cute and saccharine, like an anime bunny. Thus, “mommy” cheapens my relationship with my older children. To these, I am not merely food and warmth and vague comfort, neither am I their cuddly little friend. I am their queen, their mother. I have been given to rule them in the most affixing of ways: by sacrificing everything of myself for their sakes. The substance of my flesh, the best of my mind, my treasure, my blood, my life—paltry though it all may be, it is what I have to give in exchange for their health and growth and success. It may be my joy to pick up such a cross, but it is not cute and toothsome. Pain is not nuzzly. Sacrifice is not sweet. If Christ carrying His cross through the streets of Jerusalem cannot be called cuddly, then let us greet our lesser crosses befittingly.
   
Older children can understand without trying that it is good for their lady to retain certain dignity, because and in spite of her toils. Of their own accord, my older children address me as Mother (or Mom, when they’re in a rush). They are given to speak to me as those who have been given much and from whom much is expected, in proper tongue, without sputtering, grunting, or gasping. Even the beasts caress their young and receive the spit from their mouths. But we are men, and we are given to a higher affection: to speak; to name; to crown our beloveds with honor they cannot grasp for themselves; to remind one another of how grandly we are collectively loved. 
  
There is no time to waste on childhood without end. Rather, in the fullness of time, a child is weaned from “mommy” to the solid, enduring presence of his mother, who becomes for him a source of wisdom and, if he is lucky, beauty—things that are far more nourishing than milk anyway.*

*I invoke luck because while I know I’ve been given the capacity for mothering, its expression depends a great deal on how much sleep I’ve gotten this year.   

15 comments:

Rebekah said...

HA HA HA HA HA. I have a draft entitled "Don't call me Mommy."

Yours is much better.

Reb. Mary said...

Yes, but how does one eliminate the "sputtering, grunting, or gasping" from the Hooliganish lexicon? :P

Anonymous said...

I read this and say, "Ahh, yes . . . 'mother'
is so very respectful". Yet, why is it that when I sat with my mother during her last hours and moments, I called out for "Mommy" and still find myself whispering "Mommy" when in a moment of deep mourning. I am not deranged, I am not a victim of stilted mourning - I just found that in our home our children transitioned to Mom-Mother without a formal construct. Yet I will not be surprised if one day they, like me, once again call out for "Mommy". And for now if one of my taller than me kids needs to call me Mommy, I know it's a moment of need, not likely to linger, and then we'll be back to Mom.

The Mama said...

I don't think any of my kids has really gotten into the mommy thing. Mama? The French maman? Yes, I hear those. Interesting.

Delawaremamma said...

I agree with Anon. My kids have transitioned without any direction from me. I stopped calling my own mother Mommy at some point on my own too but have memories of calling for Mommy perhaps when really sick or hurt or upset (you know, teenage girl stuff;-)

I admit when my oldest (nearly four) stopped calling me Mommy I was a little sad but saw it as a sign of growing up. The two year old is still entrenched in the Mommy phase and we'll have another within a month to take his place when he gives it up.

I see your point about older kids using Mommy all the time but honsetly I've never spent much time thinking much about it.

Delawaremamma said...

Ugh! Didn't read that last sentence. Apologies.

Gauntlets said...

Anon: I am so, so sorry for your loss. Christ is coming soon!

Gauntlets said...

Rebekah: Post it.

Reb. Mary: HAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gauntlet - the death of a Christian parent is very bearable - I know that in a wink of an eye we will be together again. Yet, it does intrigue me that the guttural response to this loss would evoke a cry of "Mommy" from me - from my siblings and others my age - I guess we're just wired to react to the loss of that central figure - perhaps that childhood fear of separation - whatever - I just didn't realize that the beloved name of "Mommy" was so close to the surface for me even after all these years.

Cathy said...

I just assumed that the title "Mommy", like wearing diapers, is for babies. Reminds me of some good advice we heard from a preacher early in our marriage. When little ole Mom is talking to the kids, the kids should be picturing big ole Dad, looming over her shoulder,in all his Dad-ness. Thankfully, my husband has instilled that in our kids. Boy does it help little ole Mom get her point across.
Rebekah:What Gauntlets said.

MooreMama said...

I've not yet gotten "Mommy". But my older has pretty much transitioned to "Mom" (and rarely "Mother") from "Mama" and, since the younger mimics her sister, I'm afraid my days as "Mama" are over. It makes me sad.

Gauntlets (and others) is Dad ... "Dad", "Daddy", or "Father"?
My husband is still usually "Dada" or "Daddy", but I know that my kids' grandparent-types are inclined to refer to "Mother and Dad" more than "Mother and Father" or even "Mom and Dad".

Gauntlets said...

"Dad" in direct address, "Father" in the third person. I would also like to point out, dear everyone else, that this just happens, much like "Mother" just happens, without any prescribed program or influence from me (hence the "of their own accord" in the post).

My kids have never really used "daddy". Though they do often simply default to "He's home! HOORAY!" :D

Rebekah said...

When I was four days postpartum with our first baby and crashing HARD, I involuntarily called my dad "Daddy" for the first time in decades (I was 24). It was so weird.

Anonymous said...

>> "Dad", "Daddy", or "Father"?

(Mama and) Papa where I come from, and when the Hungarian runs particular strong, Apu

Merry Christmas, the Savior is born!

Melrose said...

Rebekah, I bet it melted his heart.

I wish my Dad was around to call him Daddy. And like Anon, I find myself whispering Daddy into the air any time I need him....which is pretty much every day.

Christ is coming soon indeed. Amen.

Great post Gauntlets, but then, no surprise there :)