*EDIT – JULY 1st, 2013*
Sometimes, I’ll look back on an old post that I published years ago, and chuckle to myself – thinking about the “problems” I once faced. In this instance, I was going through a phase (a terribly long one, mind you) where Ryder referred to me by my first name. Yes, it bothered me. Enough to write a blog post! He called me “Lena” for much longer than was tolerable, and at one point, it really, really hurt me.
But just like that, he grew out of it… and has called me “Mommy” ever since. Often hundreds of times per day – in a raspy, whiny voice that from time to time, grates at my nerves. “Mommy, Mommy, MOMMY!”
(However, I won’t complain. I’ve earned my title, and I cherish every single “Mommy” that leaves his sweet mouth.)
And so, won’t you take a trip down memory lane with with me? This blog post was originally published on September 6, 2011 – so Ryder would have been just about 3.5 years old; his little brother, 1.5 years old. Is it strange that I have a hard time remembering this phase? I fear that life is speeding by way too quickly. Sigh.
Readers, I have a problem.
Now I suppose I should toss out a quick disclaimer: I have my health, my kids are well fed, and for the moment, we do have a roof over our heads. So in the grand scheme of things, perhaps it isn’t a biggie.
An inconvenience? A concern? Regardless.
Ryder calls me “Lena”. And I can’t get him to stop.
I know, I know, I know it shouldn’t bother me. Not much, anyways. Many friends and family members actually think it’s kind of cute. And for a while, even I thought it was rather enduring: Ha ha, my son calls me by my first name.
Now, it drives me crazy.
I’m not exactly sure why he prefers addressing me as “Lena” – after all, it hardly has an interesting ring to it, right? Let’s be real, it’s not “Desirée” or “Katerina” and furthermore, I spend the equivalent of 6 hours per day rambling off phrases such as “Give it to Mommy,” “Mommy said NO!” and “Come hold Mommy’s hand”… so… what the hell? And I AM his Mommy, right? I pick out his clothes, kiss his boo boos, cut his grapes in half and jump on Google for every symptom he’s ever had (or I’ve thought he’s had, which includes, but is not limited to, shingles, bee stings and leprosy).
So… what the hell?
It’s been getting worse, friends. Last week, while taking a Popsicle out of the freezer for him, he looked at me pointedly and said, “Don’t lick it, Lena. That’s MY Popsicle.” Sure, I can deal.
Later that day, I accidentally spilled milk all over the counter due to a milk bag malfunction.
“What the hell, Lena?” he observed. (Yes, it’s indeed horrible that those exact words came out his mouth, but I will be the first to admit that I burst out laughing when he said it. I think this Mommy needs to watch her own potty mouth.)
But my absolute breaking point was while we were in Gymboree last week. Sorting through some of their cute fall merchandise, a salesperson sidled up to me.
“He’s so cute!” she gushed.
“Thank you,” I crooned. “Do you like this top, Ryder?”
“I don’t like it Lena!” he screamed. “Let’s go home Lena. Want to play cars.”
“Oh!” the salesperson gushed. “Are you his nanny? Or an aunt?”
No, I’m his mother,” I retorted tersely.
“Ah, a stepmom. I thought so… I didn’t want to say, but I was trying to find the resemblance.”
“Actually, believe it or not, I gave birth to this little charmer.”
“But… he calls you by your first name?”
Ugh. Yes, lady, he does.
I suppose the real question is why it bothers me so much. I mean, who cares, right? I’m his mother: I know it, he knows it, and that should be all that matters.
But it does matter.
On one level, it challenges my cultural notion of respecting your elders. By addressing me by name, it undermines my maternal authority and puts me on a level playing field (even though I do not believe this is his malicious intent). Still, the outcome is the same; I am reduced to a peer… and you do not have to take instructions from a peer.
On another level, it can be untimely and embarrassing, as witnessed in the Gymboree incident last week. I don’t want people to assume that I’m the hired help – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but let’s be real, I spent almost 30 hours labouring with him, and I’m damn well going to claim him as my own.
And finally, if there’s one thing that defines my daily existence, it is that I AM a Mommy. I relish in it. I love it. And there are exactly two people in this world who have the right to call me that… and one of them doesn’t speak coherently yet.
(Oh Lord, please let Reid call me Ma, Mama, Mom or Mommy. Amen.)
We do our best to calmly and consistently correct Ryder, and am quite certain he will grow out of this phase, just as surely as he grew out of the whole sniffing-the-top-of-kid’s-heads thing.
For now… I am Lena; hear me rant.
Oh boo to that Gymboree salesperson! Some people just have no clue! We went through this exact same phase – and I felt the same as you – I'd earned the "Mommy" title fair and square, and my 3 year old wasn't going to choose what she calls me (just yet anyways!). My strategy was to refuse to answer unless she called me Mommy. She learned that no reaction was no fun and we passed through the phase (sort of) quickly. Not sure if that would help your situ, but thought I'd pass along what worked for us! Good luck :)
Thanks for sharing your experience! I too have tried ignoring Ryder but he just keeps screaming, “Lena, Lena, Lena!” over and over again until I cave. Sigh.
Oh my gosh Lena!!! My friend Sam is going through the exact same thing – his son ONLY refers to him as Sam. Our friends joke and say he's "white" since we know a lot of white people who call their parents by their first name. They are however, adults. Ha ha.I personally would be mortified too by this, and I think culture has a lot to do with it. Being Asian, I never ever was allowed to refer to adults by their first name. In fact, I don't even know what my relatives' first names are!!I think it'll eventually sort itself out, but really, I have no answers for you! Good luck and keep us posted!!
Same cultural taboos here. So you can imagine how mortified I am when he calls me “Lena” at family get togethers.
Oh Lena love, I totally get how this would upset you. I'm currently in between houses and living with my sister who has two kids of her own. I am constantly worried Jane is going to start calling me "auntie jen" to the point that I now address myself as mommy to my nieces… ha ha ha. I'd rather all three of 'um call me "mommy" than my Jane call me "auntie jen"! :p xoxox It'll pass, I'm sure!
“Auntie Jen!” oh yes, I can see how that would upset you too!
totally legit to be annoyed by this one, I would be too. We work our asses off daily and earn the title of mama. it's a badge of honour, a rite of passage, our most awesome achievment. I'm sure it's a phase he'll grow out of soon, but in the meantime 'what the hell Lena' is totally hysterical to hear! I can't stop laughing at that one! lol
I literally burst out laughing when he said it. Mom of the year, right?
Oh yes this would bother me too! My daughter went through a similar phase around the same age. Thankfully she grew out of it quickly. Much patience was involved.
So happy to hear that the phased passed with your little one! Hugs.
I have no experience with this but perhaps it's because that is the name of your blog? The fact that you are so great at it and have so many readers who love you – I think your son inherently knows this and is proud of you. Of course you're mom…but you're LENA too! I'm sure it's just a stage. =)
Seriously, how sweet are you? Kisses! I’m sure Ryder recognizes my blog page but can’t read yet!
I love this rant :)As a 'mom' who spent 3 full days labouring my first-born, it breaks my heart everytime he calls me "Nana". My mom watches my boys 5 days a week. I understand the name slip-up (he called my husband "Santa" last week!) but I'm MOM and I want to be called MOM! He also went through a phase where calling me Shauna was cool & funny.I don't necessarily think it's a cultural thing to call parents by mom & dad or by their first names. Growing up, my elders were addressed as aunt/uncle or Mr/Mrs. And I still do this with anyone from my childhood that is still in my life. It's what my mother taught my siblings and I.It is something Ryder will grow out of, and maybe one day ignoring him will work and he'll be fed up enough of being ignored that he'll change to Mommy! I would also suggest telling him how it makes you feel when he calls you Lena. That you're his mommy and are proud to be his mommy, and that he should call you mommy so that his baby bro does the same thing. It's so hard when they're young and don't understand.No matter what, you are his mother. As long as your boys know this, it's all that matters. Ryder knows who his "mommy" is, and calling you Lena doesn't change his love for you one bit. And anyone who can't see a resemblance between you and your beautiful boys needs glasses (or their head checked!).
You always give me the most thoughtful, well-meaning and inspiring advice. Thank you so much! Hugs my friend!
Good advice from some of your readers. I too would suggest ignoring him, and when he keeps screaming "Lena" over and over, calmly turn to him and say something like, "My name is Mommy or Mom. When you call me by the name you are allowed to use, then I will answer you." And then turn back and continue ignoring him. Do it a lot at home, so you don't feel so on-display, and walk out of the room if necessary. Just keep doing it, and he WILL eventually stop. Also, explaining is a great idea, too. Kids often understand more than we give them credit for, so maybe telling him that it hurts your feelings when he calls you Lena, because you are his Mommy, not his aunt, friend, or babysitter. Mommy or Mom is a special name that he ONLY gets to call you, and that is what you want him to call you. I still think ignoring, explaining, and continuing to ignore is going to be the best bet. He has to get sick of yelling for you at some point. Just be sure that as soon as he calls you Mommy, you respond, happy, bright, and very excited. Instantly. Positive reinforcement works (I'm told) really well on little kids. Good luck, and I'm sorry you're dealing with this. How sucky.
Thank you SO much for the great feedback! Crossing my fingers.
Lena we went through a stage where my son called me "Babe". That is what his father calls me and it all started one day at the grocery store. I was over in the produce and my son was with Daddy looking at the meat. Suddenly I hear him screaming at the top of his lungs "Babe" and he is calling for me. Was a bit of a funny stage,but i the same wanted him calling me Mom. Took a while but I would only answer him when he called me mom or when he said babe I would call him Grandpa and he thought that was silly. Then I would explain that his name is not grandpa and mine is not babe! Eventually it worked. Hang in there!!
Thanks Babe! LOL!
Don't worry…my daughter went through a phase of calling me 'J', the nickname my husband uses for me…it was endearing (and hilarious) at first, but slowly got on my nerves. I was NOT going to be a HOMER to my daughter. I stopped laughing when she would say it, and because she didn't get that rise that children crave (from their parents or other adults), she stopped. I'm happy to say, within a week, I was mama again! :-D
Praying this is just a short phase… but it’s been going on for months now. Will have to bring in the big guns!
Hi Lena. I would def just ignore him try telling him in the morning first thing that you will only answer him if he calls you mom, mommy, ma just not Lena. Be firm and do NOT CAVE or he will fine something else to get your goat with. Gotta love kids they sure keep ya on your toes.Allie
Will be firm in my resolve, Allie :)
My son, who is two, is in alternates between calling my Hayut (Harriet) and Mom, and frequently calls my husband Mark! I think we need to start calling each other Mommy and Daddy so he'll stop! I don't like it!
I think Buy me a cameo just reinforced your suggestion!
Buy me a cameo
New to your blog and loving it. My sister and I called our my mom by her first name when we were about 3. Eventually, my mom and dad just started calling each other 'mom and dad' and we picked it up. I hope Ryder outgrows this phase – but 'What the hell Lena!' haha that's hilarious!
Not a mom so my perspective is fresh here I say blame husband, he's taking cues from that and mimicking (in awe of, wants to be a big boy like daddy) therefore playing house mommy/daddy with you?
:) Always love hearing your perspective!
What a cute story! Can I call you Mommy? haha…j/k!xo
Hilarious! Baby Girl called her dad "Bob" for a while but that was pretty short lived.
Short lived is good! xo
Thanks Lena that made me smile!! I went threw the exact same thing and I assure you it will pass. Until then deep breaths. Xo
Thanks Becky :) xx
Omg, this just made my night…and yes, it's Saturday night. See, it can always be worse. LOL
Hahaha happy to entertain!
My son calls me by my first name too and I can't seem to get him to stop. He has even started using my middle name as well, just like I do to him. And like you I refer to myself as mommy and so does my husband but he must hear other people calling me Lisa so he thinks it's ok. I just ignore him now or quip back mommy and he stops. Ah. Motherhood… FULL of rewarding moments:)
:) Let me know when it stops, Lisa – I’d be interested to see if both boys follow the same curve!
Tammi @ My Organized Chaos
I can see it now, one day he'll read this and say, "get over it, Lena!!" lolGet that on video, woman!!
Ha! He probably will, followed by “What the hell!”
I completely understand how that could annoy you. My 4 year old had was in that “phase” of calling me by my first name a while back and it was totally bugging me as well!
That’s the word! It BUGS me!
Hehe this made me giggle. My son (also Ryder) does this to me sometimes as well. But only on occasion so at the moment I find it cute and kind of humorous. But I totally see where you’re coming from..if my son did it daily it would bother me as well.
:) Love that you have a Ryder too!
Not sure I like the sales associate’s tone on the stepmom bit…Even if you were, SO WHAT? As a stepmom on paper and the real mom in practice, I hate it, hate it, HATE IT when people assume that it doesn’t make you a “real” mother. Sorry – Off topic. But it drives me bonkers.
You’re right. Now if memory serves me correctly, she didn’t have a disrespectful tone, but why even bother to point it out? If you’re caring for a child, you’re a mother.
I’m sure looking back on it now you can smile and laugh at it. Glad he is now calling you Mommy, a title you definitely deserve!
I was totally laughing this morning, Judy :) Thanks so much!
I’m sure this has become a rather “fond” memory lol I look back on the strange/mean things my kids have come up with to say to me over the years and they all bring a smile to my face now
Happy Canada Day Lena & family!
Thanks Anne – you’re right, it’s such a fond memory :) Can’t believe Ryder used to do this!
Haha! I think this is one of those exact: “You’ll laugh about it later” sort of (long) moments :-)
I can only imagine the horror of hearing your 3 yr old say: “What the hell, Lena?!”.. I’m not saying it wasn’t mortifying, but it’s also hilarous!
I am glad that it was short lived and that you can look back and smile :-)
Happy Canada Day, Lena :-)
Hope you had an amazing Canada Day as well! Yup, it was crazy mortifying at the time, but I am definitely laughing about it now!
I remembered this post and thought it was funny and cute. My DD (4yrs) does that sometimes. I just think it is cute and ask her “who are you calling Trich? I am mommy to you.” But if she does it everyday in a sassy way then I would do as some of the other posters suggested. She often yells for my husband by name after I have yelled for him (or I have asked her to call him for me) which cracks me up. But she doesn’t make it a habit.
I’m so happy that Ryder outgrew this silly habit. It was really starting to annoy me! Now, in addition to calling me “mommy”, he calls me his “best friend”. Aw!
Yeah this would make me crazy nuts, never had to go through it.
:) Consider yourself lucky!
LOL “what the hell, Lena”! The hilarity of that outburst aside, that must have been frustrating, and I’m glad the phase passed!
As an aside, it’s really nice that your blog posts also serve as a memory bank. It makes me want to write things down more, take more pictures, etc., because there are moments when I also feel like life is speeding by!
You’re exactly right, Victoria – I love going back on posts – it’s like my own personal diary. That obviously, isn’t private! LOL
My girls will add in “HEI-DEE!” sometimes at the end of their questions/sentences, followed usually by gales of laughter. They still find it funny years after they found out that Mommy has a “real” name :). Fortunately, they have never done it in public, though. And, so far, my sons have no clue that I am anybody but Mommy!
Heidi is a gorgeous name to holler and giggle to; I can see why they do it!
This may have an impact on where I stand on this issue; do you pronounce your name “LEENA” or LENA” with a short a? Let me know and I’ll be able to give you definitive advice (ha ha)
Hahaha okay awaiting your advice. Most people pronounce it “Lee-na”, and I am completely okay with that, but I pronounce it “Lay-na”.
Where I was raised, calling adults by their first names is a huge no no! I totally know how you feel, I would’ve been upset too. On the flip side, I also don’t address my respective elders with their first names unless it’s mutually acceptable. Hence the reason I have many aunts and uncles lol!
LOL I have SO many “aunts” and “uncles” too! When I grew up, it was simply a term of respect, regardless of whether you were related or not.
Chandra Christine O'Connor
lol when my oldest was 3 she heard someone call me by name and she said thats not her name its mommy. so when she was colouring I was video taping her (3 yrs old and coloured in the lines genuis!) :) I asked her what my name was the person called me, she didnt answer so I asked her a few times and since I was disturbing her concentration on colouring she looked up and said “shitty” lol
Chandra Christine O'Connor
and I have said bitch under my breath to people many times lol
Guilty as well :)
LOL this is hilarious! cOULD NOT STOP LAUGHING!~
I know how you feel and I’m sure my wife does too! Our LO used to call us by our 1st names too but quickly grew out of it, thankfully because we don’t like being addressed by our ACTUAL names.
Don’t the little lovies just have that way.. at the perfect time.. like a department store! I can attest after sort of successfully raising 3 now on their own, and still having 2 that can’t seem to find the door to leave (I will admit 1 is 7.. I’ve given her a few more years..)…. this is or was for me one of the worst stages they went through, I would rather ‘why’ lasted twice as long instead of this stage at all.
Now that I look on this in hindsight, my twin daughters are 27, and I went through this exact same thing, two at the same time, as the one who started it had an eager little follower.
Just too funny ! I was lucky enough to not have to go through that stage with my daughter… my only complaint was that I heard “Mom” way too much (like every 2 minutes way too much) – but that phase passed.
It will be interesting to see what the youngest 2 grandchildren end up calling my daughter and son-in-law – the 2 older ones are “blended”, so my oldest granddaughter calls my son-in-law by his first name and my oldest grandson calls my daughter by her first name. ;).
that’s so cute; he’s got a headstrong and darling personality!
I remember when when kids were pumped up with their rights from school. Totally misleading concept was perceived by many children. Children felt that they were equal to us parents as they were to their peers.They took the concept just a little too far and thought we had no rights as parents anymore (which definitely should include any form of discipline).
Some stages are not enjoyable in any means, but there is always the relief that we know they will pass, some quicker than others and some with stages pass, well just not quick enough it seems!
You sound like a great MOM!
It’s a phase. Yes, it’s annoying. Yes, I would be furious if that were my child. I hope he grows out of it soon if he hasn’t already.