Posted by: mommytoo | April 6, 2008

what’s in a name?

d and i decided a while back that we didn’t much care what our kids call us, and we like the creativity kids have.  we’ve heard lots of different versions of mother names that kids made up.  we know people who’ve decided what they’re going to be called, and refer to themselves that way before the baby talks (just like hetero parents).  but neither of us felt the desire to be called anything in particular (although we don’t want to be called by our first names), so we thought we’d let them feel it out.

now, though, we’re not so sure.  obviously we’re already talking to nate a lot, and it’s kind of funny saying “okay, i’m going to give you to other mommy,” stuff like that.  still, i feel a pull to let nate figure out what feels right, and i couldn’t possibly be as clever as kids are with what we’d be called.

any lesbian moms/moms to be, what are you called?  how and when did you come up with it?  does it work for you?



  1. I (bio mom) am MaMa, my partner is Mommy. Since for us, I was going to be the bio-mom for all of our kids, we thought calling Peg Mommy would be a good choice. So it wasn’t assumed that she was anything else but a mom. We thought about this a lot, and I can understand your desire to let your children make their own decisions, but like you, we felt the need for our kids to distinguish between us. We also considered using a unique label, maybe a translated version, but decided that it would be difficult for our kids to explain/define to other children. Max is now 4 and it seems to be working out well for our family. He is confident an exclaims, Sam has a Mommy and a Daddy, and I have a Mommy and a MaMa! Good luck with your decision.

  2. I am Mama and my wife is Ima (hebrew for Mom, we’re Jewish). Like MaMaMia, we gave me, as non-bio-mom the more recognizable name, but we also were careful not to either be “Mommy” which we felt more strongly implied “one” (and we had the Ima option). My wife is mostly fine with the less recognizable name, but it is sometimes challenging and we do have to explain it frequently. She has said that it gives her a taste some of the feelings I had of needing to explain and justify my presence as a mother. It is also helpful that many of our friend’s kids, even those with straight parents, also have Ima’s. We often change the wording of books and stories to include both Mamas and Imas, and our almost two year old seems to understand that “Mommy” can apply to either of us. If, as a non-bio-mom you want to be seen as a mother, it helps to have a corresponding name, whether or not you distinguish between the two of you. The only book I’ve seen deal with this head-on was “Reinventing the Family” by Laura Benkov, in one of the middle chapters.

  3. Hey, I have a Nate, too! So glad to have just found your blog. I (non-bio) go by Baba, and my partner is Mamma. We played around with names the first few months, feeling what was right for us, and the Baba stuck. It’s a little bittersweet, though–I definitely feel a twinge of wishing I was “Mama” to Nate. (Mamma is the Norwegian; same pronunciation.)

    One surprise consequence of this name is that now when Nate yells out “Baba!” on the playground, other parents and kids look at me like “What? Who are you?” I’m trying to not notice.

  4. Our plan was for Teo to call me “mom” or “mommy” and to call my partner “mama.” But, he gets them mixed up, understandably. He is gracious if we say “You mean mommy?” and he will say “mommy” but he doesn’t remember in day to day interaction. I don’t know if he will separate them later, but right now (at 20 months) he is happy to call us either name, and we know what he means because he looks at one of us.

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