Friday, April 13, 2007

Mom and Mama - any other ideas?

Hi Maria,

I’m so glad you stopped by. Despite, the name of my blog, we struggle with this issue. We decided on Mom and Mama because I am from the west, and growing up, I didn’t know anyone who called their mother Ma. It was always Mom or even Mother. My wife is a townie. Around here, Ma (spoken with a Boston accent MAAAH) is common. I became Mom and she became Ma. However, our son doesn’t talk yet, and he may have other ideas.

Mom and Mama, or some variation thereof, is the most common solution I have seen.

I have also seen kids with gay moms call them “Mommie Jane and Mommie Kay” but I think you want to get away from gender roles, and this doesn’t solve your problem at all.

I grew up with a girl with hippy parents who called her mom and dad by their first names. I’m not that into this though because it was kind of confusing. I was stunned to learn that this “Rob and Sharon” she always talked about, were her parents.

I have seen Mom and Nana, but Nana is how lil’ guy and his cousins refer to their grandmother, so I am not really into this one either

Polly over at answers to Baba which means “Father” in several languages. You are still getting into gender roles, just foreign ones, but it works for some people.

I am asking around for you. Do any of the lesbian moms out there have any really great ideas?

I also want to recommend this book. It is a bunch of exciting essays written by the non-biological mother. A lot of them mention this very issue.


Robin said...

In our family, I am Baba too. Somehow Polly and I both arrived at this name without knowing about each other. My partner, who is the birth mother, is Mommy. It works for us.

michelle said...

baba meaning father in several languages got me to thinking what about mother in other languages... from your family origins (unless there from england!)i'm aboriginal so mum= guni, dad=bubaa. that doesn't help with gender based issues, so a word that means something to you could work.
(heart=gii, star=miri) sorry not very creative.

googiebaba said...

Thanks Robin and Michelle!

Michelle, I kind of think you are onto something with choosing a word that means something to you. If its in another language, that makes it kind of malleable. It could be your own special word.

Robin said...

Baba also means grandmother or wise woman in some languages. Ema is mother in Hebrew. We considered that but neither of us wanted to be Ema. I think that fact that Baba is easy to say early on was a selling point for me. Also Robin and Baba have the b sound in common.

Maria said...

thank you.

you guys have more to say than google does?!

and just to share maybe a little but, my girl is supposed to start her cycle tomorrow so hopefully we'll be concieving within the next few weeks.
i am hopeful, nervous, anxious, but mostly excited!!
we can't wait to be parents.
and it's comforting to know that we aren't alone and that we aren't the first...
although in our community, we kinda are.
everyone has been very supportive and very inquisitive so far, i don't want to say that it'll result in our community having more families but it probably will.
everyone i know keeps asking me everything about the process we're going thru now.
i am happy to share everything i'm learning but at times, especially when we are out socially, it's all everyone wants to talk about...i understand that it's a quite a big deal for our community but it's a bigger deal for my girl and i, and as patient a person as i am, sometimes i wish people would let us have some privacy while we're doing this.
in the long run, it might make for more playmates with friends kids' though when they do it.
i am sure however of one thing, our kid is going to have a million auntie's that are going to spoil the s*@! out of him or her.
thank you again.
i am still looking at names and if i find any new ones, i'll keep you all posted.
i may even start my own blog!

googiebaba said...

Hey Maria,
Good luck with TTC! Its a wild ride. Really exciting, but with lots of ups and downs. And if you start a blog, let me know. I will put a link on my blog for you.

Maria said...

i did end up starting a blog, more of an online journal i guess.
not very exciting at all but all the's my link....

Maria said...

and what is ttc?

Polly said...

Hello! I meant to comment much earlier, when I first read this, but the window of opportunity slammed shut with either an infant's or a toddler's cries. Took me a little time to get back.

First, Maria, TTC = Trying To Conceive. For the AO (Acronym Oriented).

I wanted to add a little more color commentary on Baba, which, in addition to being short for Babushka (grandmother), is indeed a word for "father" in lots of languages (nifty little page here). I was thrilled, by the way, to see that Robin calls herself Baba (or rather her daughters do). I'm a faithful reader of her blog (and her essay in Confessions of the Other Mother -- thanks for the plug!). She was the first person I learned of who came to this name, and the fact that her process of arrival was independent from mine made it feel even more right to me.

You know, the gender binary is a big ole thing. I am far, far more interested in chipping away at its edges than leaving it intact and merely aligning myself with one side of it (in this instance, w/ parental naming and roles, the supposed "male" side). I think it takes a great deal of effort to forge a transcendent third option (what one might be able to call a Middle Path, to borrow from the language of Buddhist philosophy). I think some of that work is done by the very act of a woman borrowing from and reshaping language, or even a social role, that has up 'til now been the exclusive domain of men. Or at least that's what I think I'm doing. I also think it's useful to remember that being partner with a woman is in the eyes of many the exclusive domain of men, as is the process of supporting a woman through pregnancy and, side by side with that woman, raising a kid as co-parent.

So when I call myself Baba, and my kids do, I know it's me, a biological female, that's being Baba. I'm being a special kind of parent. I want to help create more space for us lesbian non-birth moms to actually BE something. Not a NON- something. But a SOMETHING. With a proper name. That's why I feel like for me, the name Baba, kind of does slowly take on the heft of a proper name. I'm not just called Baba, I'm a Baba, if you know what I mean. It's true that for me, a Baba is a kind of both/and sort of parent: both mom and dad, or parts mom and dad. So my kind of Baba does feel "genderqueer," to a degree.

But ultimately I think we're all stuck in a rut, thinking that parental roles have to be gendered and in two different ways only. They have been, but they needn't be, exclusively. There could be three options, there could be two of the same kind. Sex and gender are really different things, and the # of genders does not, and should not, be limited to the # of biological sexes. And gendered parental roles, I believe, follow the same logic. No doubt, LGBT parenting is helping change all that.

Hope all that didn't bend your brain up into a pretzel. I'm not sure if it's clear in words, but it's clear in my heart. Sorry for the long tome here, but it's such a rich topic!

Good luck! I'll be keeping track of your evolving story!