Sep 28, 2017

Please Don't Call Me Mama

Like most women, I am many things to many people.

I am a professional.

I am a friend.

I am a wife, a granddaughter, a daughter, a sister, a niece, and an in-law.

I am a Jew. I am a very amateur crafter. I am an enthusiastic hostess and home cook. I am - well, was, but I haven't let go quite yet - a singer. I am a dog owner. I am a graduate of Columbia University and University College London. I am a feminist and a life-long learner and a lover of challenges.

I will, in about three months, be a mother.

But don't call me mama.

Yes, I know that having a child will change my life forever. And yes, I know that I don't yet fully understand how motherhood will consume me or how it will affect my world view - both of which I expect it will.

I know as well that, for some of you, the main thing we will have in common will be our motherhood, and I'm excited to share that experience with you.

But I also know that I don't want my relationship with you to be defined by my relationship to someone else. Unless I am your mother, I want to be something other than a mother to you.

So please, don't call me mama.

Thank you.


  1. Wait, who is calling you "mama" already?

    Random staff at the pediatrician's office and my kids' school are the only people who occasionally call me "mom" or "mama." In those cases, I don't mind--my name isn't part of their job, and they have thousands of names to keep straight already.

    Of course, I live in New Jersey. Is this a regional thing?

    P.S. It's been a thousand years since I commented. Congrats on impending parenthood!

    1. mostly women online, to be honest - I think the women I know in real life know I wouldn't like it! I totally understand why doctors etc would use it and that wouldn't offend me. I'm seeing them because I'm a mom (or I will be soon) and you're right, they see dozens of us a day!

      And thank you!

  2. I am so out of the loop. I had no idea you were pregnant. Felicitations!

    Also, yes. The only time I use a parental honorific for friends is when talking to their children, or emphasizing their role when someone else is undermining them.

    1. Thank you! I get it when you only know the woman because of her motherhood - if you're a doctor or a teacher, say - but otherwise...

  3. I was thinking about this, and I realized that no one in real life really calls me mama in conversation. And I don't hear it much to others either. This seems to be largely something people say sometimes online, and it doesn't bother me really now that my kids are on the outside, but when I was pregnant it bothered me. And I used to have a coworker who called me "mom" every time he greeted me. I hated it, but I never said anything.

    1. By and large, I mostly get it online, too - which, when I think about it, doesn't actually make me more comfortable with it because it feels more superficial as a throw-away identifier!

  4. ;) love this!

    and It's pretty amazing to hear your own child call you mama! I'm so excited for you!

  5. I am excited about that - though I've got months and months to wait!