Hi, My Name is Mama

Deliberately. Intentionally. Unequivocally. Quite simply, I am Mama.

Five little ones (well, two are little, two are medium and one is now just an inch shorter than me so she is a big kid) have the privilege of calling me mama. I have discovered, as well, that the benefit is reciprocal because I am honored to be called mama. I did not conceptualize how deeply I treasure this title until I was denied the sweetness by one of my own.

Truth: Kaitlynn lived from one year old to two years old in a home where here dear caregivers were affectionately referred to as Aunt (Tia).

Truth: I am now Kaitlynn’s primary caregiver.

Truth: In her mind, and more importantly her mouth, I am more often than not referred to as Aunt.

Truth: I didn’t think it would bug me, but it has.

Truth: I just gotta deal with it. So I am. With a smile, nonetheless… most of the time.

We are super blessed to have a very verbal child. I know she will get it. I really can’t complain about it. I wasn’t even going to post about it until another odd thing in the name department came up. The first time it happened I thought the other person was just weird. (Forgive me.) Then when it happened a second and third time in very distinct settings I had to chalk it up to just another thing in the Bolivian cultural that shocked my system.

People greet me. They greet my daughter. They do their coo-coo cutie cute noises and then they start to converse with the girl. First question while pointing to me: Who is this? She answers: Mama. (Yeah!) Second question: What is her name? She answers: Mama. (Double yeah!) They respond: No, not mama, what is her name? She answers: Mama. I give the person who wants to “teach” my child the correct answer a funny look and quickly change the topic.

Is this normal? Am I the weird one? Are they doing this because I am not her birth mother so they want her to call me by my given name? Is this a practice that they do with Bolivian mothers who have Bolivian 2 year olds? Help me out here!

Personally, I cannot see myself expecting a 2 year old child to know the names of their mom and dad. As a side note, they don’t do this with DaRonn when he is holding her and talking with others. Then, the fact that she has been in our home for less than a week, added to the annoying title of Aunt that she calls me most times I feel like I want to walk around with a sticker proudly plastered to my chest in Spanish that says: Hi, My Name is Mama. That might be taking it a bit too far, though, eh? That might border on the offensive just a tad, right?

So, I should probably hide the treacherous Sharpie marker, bite my lip and force a grin. Patience, lady, patience.

In other name news we were sooooooo happy to hear her telling people at church yesterday that her name is Kaitlynn. Bless her! She is working really hard. I am so very proud of her.



12 thoughts on “Hi, My Name is Mama

  1. I don’t know why Kaitlynn is being asked what your name is, but I do know you have the rest of your life to worry about the social ramifications of adopting a child from another culture. I look at Vivine’s world like concentric circles with her relationship with her parents at the center. The next circle is extended family, then church/school/neighbors, then the rest of the world. If I were in your shoes, I might just focus on the inner circle and ignore the rest of the world for now.

    And I know you want Kaitlynn to call you mama and accept you as such, but, girl, it has only been a week! She needs time. Remember your bio kids didn’t come out calling you mama, either. At first, they only knew they had physical needs and they wanted someone to meet them. Kaitlynn probably feels the same way right now. So celebrate each meal, nap, peepee and poopoo knowing that those encounters bring her closer to you even if she doesn’t voice it. You are awesome!

    1. Lynde, you are awesome too. :) I know I just gotta be patient. It never ceases to amaze me that I still, even after almost nine years, run straight into the wall of culture shock on a regular basis. It’s tough to not get my nose bent out of shape every now and again. Like I tell myself all the time: I cannot complain because this is the life I chose. Yes, you are right, we just need to give her time.

      1. I found your post so vulnerable and honest, Angie. And I love the wisdom that Lynde shared, and your willingness to know that your family, your daughter, needs time. What I hear in your desire for everyone to know you are her mama… is your immediate and full love for Kaitlynn, and that’s to be celebrated!

        1. Thank you for this affirmation, Amy.

          Lynde is my dear cousin-in-law. She and her husband just brought home their daughter from Haiti a few months ago. It has been good to walk this road with family members, even though they are on the other side of the equator.

          Thank you for listening and hearing me. You are great.

  2. Angie… relish the change. Kaitlynn is now part of your family. Each time she calls you “Mama” will bring you joy. She’s had a lot of (great)carers over time and needs to learn that you are now “Mama” forever. She will soon learn from the genuine love and care that you, DaRonn and the rest of her (deleted “your”) family give her.

    She is SUCH a lucky girl. :-)


  3. Hang in there Mama dear! I think them pushing her to know your name (Angie) is borderlying on absurd! So agree with Lynde…focus on your dear family and don’t bother with too much outside opinions/comments.

    God will give you what you need to know right at the right moment!

    Big, BIG hugs!

  4. Angie,
    the title “mama” is such a dear one. It is an honor and i love being that to my girls, i completely understand your desire there. you waited for her and worked hard for her. Developmentally though, titles can be so confusing for kids. Sasha is almost 4 and is just now trying to figure out why some people call us Nick and Shawn but not her. Why i call mom and dad, mom and dad, but she calls them oma and opa. and so on and so on and so on. its very confusing for her and Kaitlynn is only two. so will need some time before she gets it all worked out but it doesn’t help for people to be confusing the issue. it puts you in a sticky situation. im sorry.
    i read all the other comments and you have really gotten some good advice. but sometimes logic doesn’t fix the pain of the heart. Only God can comfort the parts of ourselves that nothing else can touch.
    i will keep praying for all of you as you continue to bond and adjust.
    Love you

    1. My sweet sister, Shawn, thank you. Your comment means so mcuh to me. I appreciate the prayers. Things have been so much better! She is a smart little cookie. :)

  5. When my granddaughter, Hannah, was born, I called her Tootie. She must have thought I was calling myself Tootie but she couldn’t pronounce Tootie. At 14 years old, she calls me Tooie. My grandson, his sister, calls me Dee. Where he got Dee from Susan or Susie, we don’t know. I love the names they each have for me. When I would pick her up from the nursery and they would announce, “Your grandma is here”, she would protest telling them I’m not grandma, I’m Tooie. They figured who I am when they were older. You know your daughter. You know when and how much information she can process. My goodness, it seems to me they should consider she’s not much more than a baby taking baby steps in her new family right now. Libby is so right on. You are a woman of God and are doing great!

    1. A friend of mine asked me just this week if Kaitlynn is excited to see her grandparents who will be coming down for a visit next week. We reasoned together that she probably doesn’t have a clue what a grandmother is in the dictionary definition of a grandma. It will be interesting to see their interaction. Thanks for sharing your precious story, Susan.

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