Mommy or Mama?

Ok, I swear I wrote a poll-type post asking what you have chosen or would like to choose your children to call you.  Was that grammatically correct?  Anywho, I’m realizing that it is one of my interview questions, but I want to hear from all of you.

If you are already moms, planning to become moms soon,  or trying like all get-out to get knocked up, I want to know what you would choose or have chosen as your mom names.  For example, I’m Mommy and my honey is Mama.  Bette is Mama B and Tina is Mama T.  Also give me any other pertinent information.  How was the process of choosing the names for you?  Did you choose to let the child choose one?  How do people react to your mom names?  Did your gender identity or ethnicity come into play at all? Any other good stuff?  For example, upon turning 3, Cakie decided that we are both Mom.  Mama and Mommy be darned.

Digame, Mamis!



Filed under family, LGBT, My Book

19 responses to “Mommy or Mama?

  1. erin

    I’m Mama, she’s Mommy. I like that since I stay home and Mommy seems to be the default, we end up challenging the “primary mom” thing by having the stay at home mom be Mama. I chose Mama by yelling “MamaMamaMamaMamaMamaMama” and “MommyMommyMommyMommyMommy” to myself and choosing which one I found least annoying! As luck would have it, we agreed on who would be who.

  2. We’re in the TTC-like-hell camp. I really want to be mommy. My partner hasn’t picked a name yet, though is perhaps interested in having our children call her by her first name. Totally suits her personality and in no way is a reflexion of her feeling less of a “mom” or “mama” because she’s non-bio, though I do worry a little bit about that for her. If people are prone to treat non-bio moms as less legitimate parents, will their feelings be reinforced if they hear our kids calling my partner by her first name, like any random adult and not a special parent designation/name? Don’t know. We’re also really open to the kids morphing our names/adapting to what seems right. In my family, nicknames are very organic, and so are the names for grandparents. The kids always come up with something that feels natural, and if our kids come up with something themselves, we’d probably go with it. But we’ll start with Mommy and TBD.

  3. Lo

    We’re Mommy (Co) and Mama (me). I wish we could have thought of something else, but we both identify as “moms” and don’t have any gender stuff that pushes us away from it; and the Hebrew “Ima” does NOT appeal to me. Luckily, we both had different first choices…

  4. S.

    I’m Mama, she’s Mommy. I’m the bio mom, and I actually think that Mama is sort of the new default in the crunchy circles in which I travel. My partner wanted Mommy, though, and I didn’t, so it was easy. We didn’t want Eema because we didn’t want to have one of us more associated than Judaism than the other.

    Collectively, Z. calls us her moms or her parents, interchangeably.

  5. Kim

    I am Mommy and she is Mom. I always wanted to be Mommy and she didn’t so much so that was pretty easy to decide. She didn’t like the “Mama” thing though because she said it reminded her of a “big mama.” So we left it alone for a while after The Boy was born and for a while she called herself “Mom Mom,” and he took to that. He eventually shortened it down to just Mom. So we sort of set the standard, but he took it into his own hands and fine tuned it. Incidentally, he didn’t actually call me Mommy until he was almost 2 1/2 years old. He didn’t call me anything. He just pointed and came and physically got me when he wanted me. VERY frustrating for me, but eventually he got it and now I sometimes (but truthfully very rarely) even get tired of hearing the “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” that comes out of his room all the freakin’ time. 🙂

  6. lyn

    I am Mama and my wife is Ima (we’re Jewish), and neither of us is Mommy on purpose, since (to us) it seemed to imply “one” more strongly. I really wanted a widely recognizable mom name, and my wife was excited to be Ima, though it is harder to explain. We entertain a lot of questions from kids about why she is Ima and we explain that it is another word for mom. We are always careful to tell care providers and friends who our daughter is talking about when she says Ima. My wife has said that she thinks this gives her a taste of what it has been like for me, as non-bio-mom, to feel like I have to justify my existence a bit. I’m a bit surprised by how relieved I am that our daughter, who looks absolutely nothing like me, refers to me as Mama in public. I feel like if people are wondering, it clears the relationship right up when she hollers “Mama!!”

    To Lizzie above, yes, I do think that having an identifiable parental name is important for being seen as a parent, at least by other parents and kids. Maybe not essential, but certainly extremely helpful. Polly at lesbian dad is doing lovely work claiming Baba, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. Laura Benkov who wrote “reinventing the family” has a good chapter on this.

    All of this with the caveat that our daughter is only 2, so I have no idea what’s coming down the pike.

  7. Joy

    (Hopefully) I will be bio-mom and go by Mama, and my wife with be Mommy. It was pretty easy to agree on and both have their upsides. Mama is usually a first word and Mommy seems endearing. I was surprised that she passionately wanted to be called Mommy, perhaps because I hadn’t assumed and she is not femme (after which I realized I had previously associated Mommy as being more femme for some weird reason). She feels that if she doesn’t have the biological connection she wants a powerful appellative connection which I support. I’m also more “crunchy” and call my own mother both mom and mama, interchangeably so Mama seems to fit me more.

  8. While we are not pregnant yet, and certianly can’t anticipaite what will happen when we actually are called; we want to be called Mama (me) and Mommy/Mom (H.). I am pretty sure we feel this way because these were the names we called our moms. I would have had a knock-down drag-out fight for Mama if H. had also wanted it.

  9. Pauline

    I can’t really answer the question for myself, but reading the other answers, it’s interesting to me that “Ma” doesn’t seem to be in the mix at all. Growing up in the Bronx and Queens, I always called my mother “Ma” (and I still do). “Mom” was something I heard on TV or from my cousins in Iowa, and it always seemed a bit exotic…

  10. I’m Mama, my partner will be Baba (Thanks to Lesbian Dad and all the others!) to our soon to be born baby boy. She just doesn’t feel comfortable with any form of ‘mother’ for gender reasons and also due to her myriad of issues with her own mother. It feels right to her.

    That said, we have an eight year old daughter (my partner came into our lives when she was four) who has morphed Mama into Mum (we’re from Australia), and who has always called my partner by her first name. She is starting to, however, refer to her as ‘my Baba that I call …..’ It will be interesting to see how that develops when her brother is here and as he grows up.

  11. Of course, it remains to be seen whether little Peeper will actually stick with the names we’ve chosen, but for now, the plan is for me (gestational mom) to be Mama and Shrike (genetic mom) to be Mommy, until Peeper’s too cool to have a “Mommy,” then she’ll be Mom.

    Over the years, we had discussed this issue a lot (hypothetically) when I suddenly realized that, as a Texan, I had a “Mama” and always assumed I’d be “Mama,” whereas, having grown up, well, everywhere and nowhere, Shrike has a “Mom” and thinks that what mothers should be called.

    Problem solved.

    As we were planning to start TTC, and discussing it further, Shrike mentioned how much she’d like to be called “Mommy.”

    I’d always kind of assumed I’d be Mommy then Mama, but if she wants to be Mommy, that’s more than okay by me.

    (“Mom” from a wee tot just seems like it would sound funny anyway.)

    So, that’s where we’re starting out (and we’ve been practicing on the critters for years) and we’ll see what Peeper does to our plan.

  12. alli k

    Like Pauline’s, my comment will be non-responsive to the question posed…. it makes me chuckle to think of any association with the Midwest being exotic. The Jeffersons, now, THEY were exotic!

  13. Co

    It’s confusing because to the dog, I was always Mama-C and Lo was always Mommy. But Lo didn’t want me to be Mama-C to the baby if she was Mommy because it implied I was a lesser mom.

    I was really against Mommy & Mama though, for a while, because they sound so similar. I wanted something more distinctive.

    But we settled on that, with me being Mommy and her being Mama, cuz that’s what we both preferred. But we’ll see what Jo has to say about it. He may come up with his own names for us and that’ll be just fine, too.

  14. emielli

    I`m not a mother, or hoping to be one anytime soon, but for me, it all depended on what I wanted from my mom.

    If I needed something – Mama (if I was trying to be cute), or mom

    If I was scolding her – Mother

    Now, it’s just mom. But I think that the child should decide him/herself what to call each parent. If he wants to call both mom, then let him. If he wants to call one Turtle and one Lighting, then let him be that creative. It`ll change as he grows. 🙂

  15. I’m mamma, my husband is dadda, his one grandmother “meema”, his others are “nanna” and “bapi”, and his greatgrandparents are “oma”, “grandma”, 2 “papa”s, “great-grandma”

  16. wow! interesting conversation. I’m mom/mommy and E is mutti, which is German for mommy. E was born in Germany (on a military base) and visited frequently as her mom was a German teacher. I never really differentiated between “mommy” and “mama”, because I always figured both would morph into “mom” eventually. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I really didn’t put that much thought into the whole thing. I wanted to be mommy and that was all I could think about. Erin chose mutti b/c it has meaning to her and it’s different than one of the “mom” iterations. The dog already knows who is who. We’ll see what A does with the names as he grows up.

  17. We use “mom” and “mommy”. Before we began our family, we planned on using “mommy” and “mama”. But our older son called his biological mother “mama” so we decided not to use it. Of course, I always wonder what I’ll become when the kids are at the age that “mommy” just isn’t cool but I figure at that point, they’ll come up with something on their own.

  18. to each other, h and i use mama and mommy and mom and mudda interchangeably. neither of us feel attached to a certain name. and we will let jude choose what she wants to call us in her own due time.

    we saw a documentary on logo a few weeks ago about same sex parents of teenagers. one couple had a son who called them both ‘mom’, but depending on his tone of voice, they knew to whom he was referring. we’re guessing it’ll be a lot like that with little j.

  19. Though I’m American, I live in the UK. They say Mum or Mummy here, though as that sounds so dreadfully twee to me I tried to get my daughter to call me Mama. For whatever reason, Mama sounds a bit more laid-back and earth mother-y to me, which is a plus. However, best laid plans and all of that…the kid calls me Mum, or Mummy if she is being particularly dramatic.

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