“mommy”

Last night, I had the wind knocked out of me with one little word.

“Mommy”.

Summer was missing her daddy as he is out of town this week so I set up facetime for them. And as soon as the call connected, Scott and his girlfriend’s faces appeared on the screen of my phone. All three of their faces lit up at the same time seeing each other and they asked all the usual “how was your day?” questions and the “are you having so much fun with mommy?” questions that usually start out a facetime talk. I walked away and started cleaning the kitchen, leaving them alone to chat because while I have no ill feelings towards his girlfriend, let’s be honest – I don’t need to see her face in my living room chatting away with my child. It was their conversation to have, not mine.

A few minutes later I walked back into the living room to see Summer twirling the phone in circles and being goofy, so I sat down with her and held the phone so they could actually see Summer and not the rotating ceiling.

And that’s when it happened.

Summer grabbed the phone, and yelled, “daddy!” and kissed him on the screen.

Then she yelled, “mommy!” and kissed the other face on the screen.

Heart.

Stabbed.

The two of them quickly responded with, “Summer, we talked about this…” And they changed the subject.

Cough, um, so it’s happened before. My child referred to this 27-year-old woman dating my 41-year-old ex-husband who Summer has known all of 6 months as “mommy”.

Tingly prickles washed up the front of my neck and into my cheeks. And they all carried on chatting away about nothing and everything while I sat frozen in my little “did that just really fucking happen?” bubble.

I didn’t say a word about it while they were on the phone.

I’m not mad at anyone for it – Summer is too little to understand the hurt that it caused, and the 2 faces on the screen didn’t encourage it, though I could have maybe, just maybe been given a heads up about it when it first started happening so I wouldn’t have been blindsided by the knife yesterday.

Obviously them just telling her not to call the girlfriend mommy wasn’t enough. That would never be enough. Not for Summer, not for me. So at bedtime we snuggled up close and had a little chat – I told her that it made momma sad to hear my baby call someone else mommy. I told her that I was the one who made her, who grew her, who had her in my tummy, whose heart is half hers, and who has taken care of her and loved her with my whole self since the very first day she was alive. And that is what makes me her mommy and no one else.

In her sweet little 4-year-old voice she said, “mommy, I’m sorry. I feel really bad and I promise I won’t ever call anyone else mommy again but you.” She got it. And my heart filled right back up as I listened to her breathing get heavy while she drifted off to dreamland.

Once I knew she was asleep, I went out to the living room and I cried. Oh, I cried good. A puffy-eyed in the morning type cry. Because, although I kept trying to remind myself that it actually tells me that this girl is doing something right with Summer if Summer equates her with things that “mommy” means to her – love, fun, safety, security – it still broke my heart for a moment.

A moment I never thought I would have to live.

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7 Comments

Filed under divorce, Family, Kids, life, Love, Parenting, sadness

7 responses to ““mommy”

  1. Sam B.

    So honest and raw. Thank you for staring your moments with us. I’m a new mama and I can begin to imagine the way you felt by the way you wrote your story. You did a good thing keeping your cool until you were alone. You also did a great thing by explaining to your baby the way her words made you feel. You are modeling some very productive behaviors for your Little. And, as much as it hurts, it’s nice to know your baby is in good hands when she’s at daddy’s house, right?

  2. You handled the situation in a very mature manner, yet still letting your daughter know how you felt. Likely your ex and his girlfriend have not given Summer a name she should call her and so she defaults to “mommy”. Why not suggest to them they pick a mutually acceptable name and make a habit of using it in front of Summer and encouraging her to use it too? And kudos to you for not suggesting the “b” word!

  3. *hugs* lots and lots of hugs to you!!! ❤

  4. Wow, that’s so hard to hear. I don’t think children of this age really impart the same importance to names and words that we do, it’s just a word to her. Loads of my kids’ friends have more than one Mummy or Daddy, it seems normal to them, not sure if they realise how much pain it causes us! Much love xxx

  5. Jackie

    Did you really tell your kid it made you sad? Judging by pics your daughter is young. Too young to carry the weight of YOUR feelings. She is going to grow up, afraid to express how she feels, afraid to love, because YOU told her that hearing her call the gf mommy made you sad. Maybe if you were uncomfortable you could say, you should wait until daddy is married if you want to call her mommy. Or better yet, let it go. I know the pain. But I also know what it looks like when parents make their kids feel guilty for loving another parental figure. Maybe you could have come up with a name for her with your daughter instead of pouring your heart out. Instead you should have called your BFF and told them or blogged and told the internet. Not your little girl.

    • I respect your opinion, and I like that comments left here can encourage conversation. This one got me thinking for sure.

      I want to be clear that 1. I didn’t tell her that what she *feels* is wrong and 2. I would never tell Summer that she can’t love the gf, in fact I 100% encourage it daily. The first time Summer and I met the gf, she and Scott came over to my house for dinner and the 4 of us hung out for hours talking, laughing and playing because I wanted Summer to see me interact with the gf, let her know that it’s ok, and be encouraged to do the same. The gf is over at Scott’s house regularly, has become a staple in Summer’s life, and I genuinely like her. In fact, I sent this link to the gf when she first met Summer because it is honestly the way that I feel:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tina-plantamura/an-open-letter-to-my-exhu_b_6459466.html.

      Maybe it’s not the norm but I think harmony in multiple household families is the best possible outcome from a divorce.

      Regarding her age, at 4.5 Summer is certainly old enough to understand that her words and actions have a cause and effect – if she kicks me I tell her not to *because* it hurts, if she makes a mean comment about someone I tell her not to *because* such things can hurt someone’s feelings, and when she called the gf mommy I asked her not to *because* I am mommy and it made me sad to hear her call someone else my name. Explaining cause and effect to a child is important so they’re not simply told “no” but also given a reason why. She knows I have feelings, and if she only ever saw happy from me 100% of the time, what would that teach her? That anything aside from happy is not normal? That mommy is a robot? I think me telling her that I was sad, if anything, is teaching her that it’s ok to express emotions. There was no guilt laid, I didn’t tell her that loving the gf was wrong, I addressed the term she used and explained why it shouldn’t be used.

      Even if either of us were to remarry, calling a step-mom “mommy” or a step-dad “daddy” is something that Scott and I both agreed would not happen. We actually have a clause written into our parenting agreement stating such (which by the way was HIS idea to put in there). He and I are on the same page with that.

      And regarding picking a nickname for the gf – Summer, Scott and the gf are working on that.

      Thank you for your comment.

      • Mandy

        Well said Jaime, I agree wholeheartedly. My daughter is just a bit younger than Summer, and we talk often about emotions. In my opinion, it is NEVER too young to start teaching about why things make people feel certain ways. It teaches empathy and understanding. I totally understood that it wasn’t about guilt, or “loving” another “parental figure” – Summer only has one mommy, and that’s that. I would have done the exact same thing. Kudos, mama.

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