Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Son Calls Me "Mom"

My son calls me "Mom." This upsets me, but I'm not sure if it should.

My wife and I have four children. Each child, of course, is different, bringing their own idiosyncrasies and special challenges.

Our first three children had no problem differentiating between "Ma-ma" and "Da-da." Those were some of the first words each of them learned, and they never erred in assigning the correct title to the applicable person.

Not so with our fourth child. He is a tall, handsome boy who seems pretty intelligent---most of the time. He'll turn two years old next month. He already can throw a ball, jump, and knows many of the letters of the alphabet. But, he frequently calls me "Mom."

"Dad knows a lot. Mom knows everything." (It's true.)

The first thing we thought when he started doing this was wonder if he was just getting the words mixed up. But no, he never calls my wife "Dad;" he always calls her "Mom." Meanwhile, he occasionally gets it right and calls me "Dad," but more often ends up calling me "Mom."

As a stay-at-home dad (See: I Am NOT Mr. Mom) I'm already a little self-conscious about traditional gender roles. Not being the "provider" or "breadwinner" leaves me feeling inadequate at times. And it's even harder to be a macho tough-guy when your son is calling you "Mom."

We're not sure why he calls me "Mom." One theory is that he does it because he knows I don't like it. He just does it because he sees my negative reaction and thinks it's funny. He likes to push my buttons and watch me freak out when he calls me "Mom."

But, should it really bother me? Over the years I've been called things a lot worse than "Mom." Should I be insulted? Moms are pretty darn awesome! Moms are caring and competent. Moms know how to get things done!

He's brilliant!

Maybe, instead of trying to annoy me by calling me "Mom," what he's really trying to do is compliment me. Maybe what he's really trying to say when he calls me "Mom" is, "Dad, you're doing such a good job at parenting that you could easily be confused for being a Mom." Maybe, instead of being upset or insulted when he calls me "Mom," I should be saying, "Damn right! I'm Dadding you up so good that you might as well go ahead and call me Mom!"

There are only two problems with this idea. 1) No matter how good I am at "Dadding," I'll never be as good at "Momming" as his Mom. And B) Even if he were calling me "Mom" for a good reason, there's just something extra special about it when my little guy calls me "Dad."

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