What’s In A Name

Last night, Captain Amazing and I went out for drinks. #whiskeyadventure

We had the best conversation that lasted until today.

When I write something that may hit a nerve with someone I care about, I do discuss it with him/her before it is read – and we talked about The Soapbox, and how I kind of threw him under the bus.

I also gave a few examples about how I think outside the box. I just think there is always more than one right way to do something, and I look for the best way for the people involved, rather than what would be considered “normal” or “status quo.”

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

I’m working on a rather large project that he, my collaborator, and I are super excited about. I found this piece I wrote which really exemplifies my position on how I parent and how I move through life and the relationships/friendships/datingships (we need a new word!!) I’m in.

This story took place in July 2008. The marriage I was in ended in October 2007… divorce final in March/April 2008 … #math

…my kids were adjusting to the back-and-forth routine of divorce and living in two homes with two families. They were pretty young at the time: 7, 11, and 13.

When they would return to my house, they were so excited, running around like crazies, all three talking at the same time to catch me up on life.

Out of the habit created in the week before, one would go into the kitchen and then yell back at me, “Dad, can I have an apple? I mean ‘Mom.’”

This happened a lot, and I totally understood.

I would get their names mixed up all the time also – and end up naming the child I needed to talk to “whoever you are.”

One day in July 2008, they came home and told me that their dad was going to get married.

Oh joy.

When I asked them how they felt about it, they said they were excited, that they liked her. Then we would talk about them, change the subject to something more palatable for me.

The conversation would eventually return to their other home because they would remember something else that had happened.

These stories and talks were so painful for me at the time…

…so incredibly challenging to listen to because I still had fresh wounds from chewing my leg off. #escapefrommarriage

Occasionally, I would ask if we could talk about something else. I had to master this tactful but necessary question so that I could cope, just a bit, and so they wouldn’t feel like they had done something wrong.

As often as possible, and it’s easier now that they are older, I spend time one-on-one with each kid, especially if we are going to talk about something personal. It’s not Middlest’s business what Youngest has to say.

I consider feelings to be sacred and deeply personal, not something to be tattled to someone else somewhere else, like to dad at his house – like “Do you know that Youngest doesn’t like you?”

Anyway, after receiving the “blessed” news of a new family member, Youngest and I went to run errands (drive errands), which gave me a chance to talk to her one on one.

I drove the Suburban to the gas station, and as I approached the pump, I asked Youngest if she understood what this new marriage meant.

She said, “Oh yes, Mama. She’s really nice.”

I said, “Oh good. And can you talk to her?”

“Yes, we talk a lot,” she replied.

I arrived at the pump, turned the car off, and opened the car door. I turned toward my purse on the passenger’s seat to fetch my debit card, and I looked back at my sweet pumpkin, smiling at me. I smiled at her.

I asked, “Do you know that she’ll be your step-mom?”

I tried not to gag on the words.

She said, “Oh yes, Mama. Sometimes I call her ‘Mom’.”

Well, that did it, instantly. The tears ran down my face. I was sobbing uncontrollably. I didn’t expect her answer or my reaction. I felt so crushed. #thestruggleisreal

For a mom, being “replaced” is incredibly devastating.

I hurried to the pump and started the process. I didn’t want her to see me cry. But it was too late.

Then Youngest started crying because I was crying. I opened her door to hug her.

“Oh Mama, what’s wrong? Are you mad at me?” she sobbed. She looked terrified, as if she had stabbed me.

Unfortunately, that’s how I felt.

I tried so hard to swallow it, but I just couldn’t. One of my worst fears was teetering on the edge of reality.

I hugged her so tight, and we cried together.

I said, “I’m so sorry, honey. No, I’m not mad at you. But I am your Mom.”

We were both shaking from the sobs, and she said, “I know Mama. You’ll always be my Mom.”

I heard the “click” of the gas pump when it stopped pumping. I let go of her and said, “We’ll talk about this later. I’m sorry I got upset. I love you.”

I went to the handle at the tank and set it back on the pump. As I was screwing the cap back on the tank, I felt “screwed.”

And then I noticed how angry I was becoming because I had the following scene playing out in my head:

Mr. Ex, The New Woman, my three kids sitting around a table laughing, like they’re one big happy family…and then Youngest going to the refrigerator and calling back to them to ask “Mom can I have an apple?”…and then The New Woman being so flattered and feeling utterly wonderful that this child called her “Mom” that she didn’t correct her.

I thought that was a rather insidious con job to do a child – to just let her accidently call The New Woman “Mom” until it stuck.

That was my thought process anyway. #getagrip #momentsofnarcissism

We drove home, tears drying up. My emotions were a mixed bag of everything –

It’s absolutely exhausting feeling that way.

But when we returned home, I did go for a walk to clear my head.

While I was walking, I thought about our Wii. We had a lot of fun with that game. Sometimes, the most fun was creating the Mii characters – designing them and then naming them based on what they looked like.

We each had our own representation too and our own nicknames. Mine was “Red Hot Mama,” which the kids named me.

And then I remembered when Oldest was born and how his grandmother (Mr. Ex’s mom) declared what this child would call her – Nana – because she felt she was too young to be called “grandma.”

At that time, I thought that it should be the kid who gives the pet nickname to the relative – because they have a hard time pronouncing words – and then we can get a really cute name plus a great story about how “Aunt Christine” became “Beanie.”

As I reflected on those things, I had one of my genius ideas. #lightbulb

I hurried home and sat at the table with all three kids. We talked about what had happened at the gas station. I apologized for becoming upset.

Youngest said, “It’s ok, Mama.”

I said, “Well thank you. But let’s see if we can resolve this issue. I understand that going back and forth is hard and that sometimes you accidentally call me “Dad” just because you’ve been used to that for a week.”

Middlest said, “Yeah, and when we go over there, we call him ‘Mom’ by mistake.”

…hmmm just as I suspected…

I said, “Ok – yes, that’s hard. What is hard for me is that I’m your Mom. But I understand what is happening here.”

Then, I actually quoted Shakespeare:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

I followed up by asking them, “So if I have a rose and I call it a dog, is it still a rose?”

They laughed and Middlest said, “Duh!”

Philosophy rules!

I said, “So I propose that we make a list of names to call me when you are here – anything. You name me. We’ll go over the lists and vote on what the best name for me is, and that’s what you’ll call me. Then, if you mistakenly call someone else my pet name, I will have every right to be upset.”

They loved my idea. I gave them pencils and paper, and they made their lists.

They chose “Mamacita.”

That little exercise did a few things:
1. We bonded over a rather challenging moment.
2. We got creative.
3. The new name gave them awareness in their speaking and environment, just a little bit.

Ultimately, they mastered the art of transition, and the name “Mamacita” dropped off, although it comes up from time to time.

I’m still “Red Hot Mama” when we play games, because I am still a Red Hot Mama.

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