It’s true, my kids call me by my first name. Well, usually by my initials, but sometimes by my first name.
I’m not sure when it first happened, but as of right now, my 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son are more likely to call me MO (my initials) or Marinka than they are to call me “mom.”
This doesn’t bother me at all but seems to concern some other people.
“Don’t you want them to call you mommy?” my mother-in-law asked.
“That’s so funny!” a friend said. (But I sensed that she thought it was more weird than funny.)
“So many people call me by my first name,” another friend told me. “Only a few get to call me mom.”
I understand those sentiments and why people are taken aback. After all, the saying is “as American as apple pie and Mom” not “as American as apple pie and Marinka.”
Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely cherish being a mother and the relationship I have with each of my children. And I recognize how unusual it is to have a child address her parents on a first-name basis. I, myself, tried it with my parents when I was about 10, and it didn’t go well. “You can call your friends by their first names,” they told me. “We are your parents.”
So why am I so comfortable giving up being called “mom”? Why did I never insist that they call me mom out of respect or out of tradition, because that is what I am?
My answer is that I don’t feel that being called by my first name diminishes the fact that I am my children’s mother at all. Despite what some people may suspect, to me it does not imply a lesser love, alienation, or a lack of respect. And certainly my children know who their mother is.
It is simply, for whatever reason, what my children like to call me now.
And there are things that I like about it: intentionally or not, when my kids call me by my first name, they acknowledge that I am a person with a life that extends beyond caring for their needs. They recognize how I relate to the world outside of my role as a mother, and I just can’t see that as anything but a good thing.
“Why do you call your mom Marinka?” my son’s friend asked him one afternoon.
“Because that’s her name,” my son told him. And that seemed to have been a good enough explanation for his friend.
It made perfect sense to me, too.