Today I walked into the teacher’s lounge, and delighted to find a table full of freebie snacks, exclaimed, “Mama loves some snacks!”
My colleague in the room looked around a little awkwardly, smiled oddly at me, and slunk out, clearly hoping to avoid me for a while. The weirdest part was that I didn’t even realize what was so weird about it until about an hour later because I have been referring to myself in the third person as “mama” for so long now that I do it as a part of my inner (and outer, apparently) dialogue.
Here are some examples of thoughts I’ve had in the past twenty-four hours:
- Ooh, belly’s growling. Mama forgot her breakfast biscuits.
- Hey, what’s that noise? Is Mama’s phone ringing? Nope, Mama’s got some chocolate in her ear.
- After being asked a question by a student, Hmm, let Mama think about that for a minute…
- When the afternoon blood sugar drop hits it’s, Mama tired…
- And finally, after putting the girls to bed, Mama’s wine time!
I have been a mother now for three years, and I have just now realized that this has happened. I have no idea how long it’s been going on, but I guess it’s weird. It will be especially weird when I start referring to myself as “mama” out loud and not realizing it…which has apparently already begun.
What’s really interesting as I think about this now, is that somehow even in my own head, I have morphed from one whole person who eats, naps, and has the occasional conversation and glass of wine, into simply a “mama” who does those things. When did this happen?
My daughter has recently taken to calling my husband and I by our first names because she thinks it’s funny. We laughed at first and corrected her jovially. Then (as toddlers tend to do) it became a funny game, and we had to start correcting her a little more sternly. Now we shut it down right away without any kind of pretense of a joke. This is for real–it’s a matter of respect, after all.
But is it really? Or would my daughter have more respect for me if I let her think of me as more than “mama” and as a woman named Ashley?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not likely to seriously let her do that, but I wonder if I did, would it change the way she thinks of me? Or the way I think of myself? Maybe if we let our children view us as whole people instead of just their moms and dads, we might build little humans who learn to see other people, especially those who take care of them, as more than, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls it, a “single story”. And maybe we might view ourselves in a new light too because, after all, “mama” really deserves that kind of love.