Say My Name, Say My Name…

My ex’s mother came to visit this week and, in the vein of Santa Claus, brought a sack of gifts in tow. Gavin got his usual assortment of clothes, toys, and candy. Me, my ex, and Gavin also all received matching blue and white polos and the request that we take a family photo wearing our new threads. I thought it was a cute idea, albeit one I would never have decided to do on my own. My ex clearly stated that he wanted no part in this and would refuse a matching family photo. (I’ll post the picture on here after we take it.)

Upon hearing of the matching polos that my ex’s mother purchased for the three of us, my friend exclaimed, “Matching outfits are cute! You’ll be like Destiny’s Child.” Please note that this is the same friend from the dumpster diving escapades.

I blinked. “Destiny’s Child? You know that we’re talking about me, my ex, and our two-year old son, yes?”

“I know.”

I sighed at the ridiculousness. “Well, am I at least Beyonce in this crew?”

“Well, obviously,” she said. Right, obviously, I thought, as I pictured Gavin shaking his little (diapered) booty.

Speaking of Gavin, we had another developmental breakthrough this weekend and I can’t decide whether I should be proud or disappointed about it. Sometimes I think my boy is too precocious for his own (and my!) good. It was yesterday evening and Gavin had just come out of the bath. (“Bath” is a generous term for the activity, as Gavin is in currently in month three of a full-scale bath boycott. He is terrified to remove his diaper or to sit in a tub of water, so he literally stands in an empty tub, wearing his diaper, while I wash him by hand.)

Anyway, my ex and his mother were sitting on my couch while I attempted to comb Gavin’s wet hair. Gavin was rather annoyed at me for trying to bathe him and was not interested in letting me groom him afterward.

He furrowed his eyebrows and moved his head away from my grasp. “Stop it, Erica!”

My ex started to laugh so hard he had to turn his head away. My ex’s mother’s eyes went wide and she looked at me, stunned. My jaw fell open.

Once my ex regained composure, he crouched beside Gavin. “Who is this?” he asked, pointing to me.

“Mommy,” said Gavin sweetly and matter-of-factly. Maybe we had all just heard him wrong, I told myself.

“Does Mommy have another name?”

Gavin nodded. “Erica.”

Hearing your child call you by your name for the first time is pretty jarring. It sounded so strange and so wrong to hear him call me that. It was like my identity and connection to my son had been stripped away with a single word. All at once, I hated my name.

“How smart of him to understand that Mommy has a name!” exclaimed my ex’s mother. My ex had started giggling again.

“My name is Mommy,” I said sharply, becoming exactly what I swore I never would. “Perhaps everyone should call me that, to make it less confusing for Gavin.”

“I refuse to call you that,” said my ex. “Plus, this is hysterical.”

It became far less hysterical when we quickly discovered that Gavin knew Daddy’s real name, too. My ex and I called a truce.

Gavin didn’t call me by my name for the rest of the night or at all this morning. In his book, my first name is still primarily “Mommy.” Of course, I can’t help but continue to be both amazed and weirded out that my barely two-year old knows my proper name. Here’s hoping he decides not to use it.

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4 Replies to “Say My Name, Say My Name…”

  1. I can relate to the “hating your name thing”! The first time my son called me by my name both shocked and mortified me……..I wanted my “real” name back. My real name, of course, is “Mommy”. 🙂

    Great post, Erica!

  2. Interesting. In all my time being alive on this planet, I don’t think I’ve ever actively called my mother by her “proper name.” She’s been mom, mother, ma, mommy, etc., but I don’t think I’ve ever addressed her directly by her birth name.

    Odd as I call my dad his real name fairly often.

    Definitely something I’ve never thought of.

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