On any given day at any possible moment, I hear the urgent and loud, “MOOOOM!” At other times, my duo will come to me quieter with a question, request, or story to tell. It’s always preceded with this name of, ‘Mom.’ At six-years old, my twins have perfected this moniker of ‘Mom.’ At times it sounds sweet and loving. At other times it feels like the sky is opening, dropping down blessings I couldn’t imagine. Still at other times, ‘Mom’ sounds like the wrong name. Why? Because it is. My actual government name on all legal documents is Tiffany.
When my twins were born, I reveled in the idea of this new identity as ‘Mom.’ It was joyous to know that I entered this club that includes so many women. In acceptance speeches, listing of personal accomplishments, and biographies of famous people, one’s mother is often mentioned as the reason for success. A mother is usually a force, providing structure, discipline, morality, support, resilience, fortitude, financial and life support, and literally a thousand other things. Even in the cases of mothers that aren’t so great, there is a grace that is often afforded to mothers that’s often not extended to almost anyone else in the life of an individual. A mother is recognized for her sacrifice and hard work that comes with this incredible job of motherhood.
Now that the Public Service Announcement for the wonders of mothers and motherhood is over, let’s get back to the real. The constant moans, groans, whines and wailings that come with the name, ‘Mom’ is overwhelming at times. This consequence of pregnancy is that my name, my actual given name, is no longer said. Tiffany is now replaced with a moniker that suggests I am immediately receptive, understanding, giving, generous, and loving. I hesitate to count how many times the name ‘Mom’ is said in a given hour, let alone a day. At times hearing ‘Mom’ in any vocal tone will absolutely drive me up the wall.
Unpopular opinion. I would be okay with my kids occasionally calling me Tiffany. Yes, I said it. Frankly, I like my name. My Mom likes my name and growing up, said it in ways that still make me smile in retrospect. I knew when she was going to be loving and I also knew when I was in big, big, trouble simply by the way she said my name. All because of this consequence of pregnancy, I’m relegated to a name that doesn’t give credence to me as a whole person. My identity is stripped away. And when I’m not being called ‘Mom,’ I’m referred to as, ‘your mom’ by my husband, a teacher, or babysitter who is referring to me. I may go a whole day and hear my actual name said less than a handful of times.
Oh, these consequences of pregnancy strip us of so much. Our bodies change, our relationships shift, and yes, our identities are redefined. While being a mother is an amazing journey, it doesn’t mean it’s okay that our identities are defined by a name that only represents one part of ourselves. Motherhood doesn’t mean we give up ourselves to now only be defined by the name ‘Mom’. When my patience is thin, and I feel ‘Tiffany’ slipping into a puddle like Alice in Wonderland, I give permission, rather I encourage my children to call me by my actual name. They laugh and refuse. To my exasperation, they are attached to calling me, ‘Mom.’ I am grateful and annoyed all at the same time.