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