When I was a kid, I had a friend who called her parents by their first names. They weren't "Mom" and "Dad," they were "Linda" and "Dave." It always bothered me that she did that. It made it sound like they were her roommates, not her parents. It was jarring. I had totally forgotten about this until recently. While at our local farmers' market, my daughter was trying to get my attention. She didn't use her usual "Mama" or "Mom," she said, "Hey Sunny!" And you know what? It totally freaked me out.
I wasn't cross with her, I wasn't even mad, it just felt weird, and I realized that I was SO not backing her calling me by my first name, and I wanted to put a stop to it then and there.
"Why did you call me Sunny?" I asked.
"Well, it's your name. And everyone else calls you Sunny," she replied.
Yes, that was true. But I didn't want to be "Sunny" to her, I wanted to be "Mommy."
She could sense that I wasn't into us being on a first name basis and she thankfully returned to calling me "Mama." But I started to think about why I felt this way, why it made me so uncomfortable.
In our role as a parent, we have a different identity, one that isn't just a family member or a friend. Being a parent is a totally different kind of bond, one that deserves a unique title and one that reflects our role. When your child calls you by your first name, it brings your relationship into a different arena. It is as if you guys are pals, roommates, or co-workers. Also part of the authority of your station could be lost. Being on a first name basis gives a feeling that you are peers. Parents are not peers, they are caregivers and role models.
I hope to always be "Mama," "Mommy," or "Mom" to my daughter. It is a title I love. I'm "Sunny" to everyone else, but I'm only a mother to her.
How would you feel if your child called you by your first name?
Photo via Wickenden/Flickr