When you are in the process of home visits prior to adoption placement, you are instructed not to call yourself Mom or Dad until everything is final. Not wanting to step outside of the rules, we tried to ensure that the children knew that we were Clive and Shelley until they were officially “ours”. On the first weekend, the boys were quick to begin asking, “When can we call you Mom and Dad?”
Kaitlyn, however, was not. She has not called us that for the past two years, unless she was referring to us in third-person. For some reason, the words could not roll off her tongue like it did for the boys. Two years down the road, she has begun to call us Mommy and Daddy, just in the past two weeks. Why the transition happened is a mystery to us, locked inside a ten year-old girl’s mind and heart.
Today I volunteered to drive the Broncos Girls Bordenball Team (yeah, I don’t know what bordenball is either) to a tournament. With 5 chatty little girls in the van, I hear a voice come from the back seat. “Mommy, can I borrow your iPhone?”
Now, to any other mother, that would have been just a request. To others, that would have been her ten-year-old asking for her phone yet again. To me, it was MY little girl, in the back seat, comfy with her new life, asking her MOMMY for something like all the other girls in the van would do. We were just a normal family.
Some in the field of adoption placement would advise that children should not be forced to call their parents Mom and Dad. It should be their choice, they say. I did not agree with that philosophy. I felt that they should be TOLD to call us by our title, so that they feel that we are who we are, and it avoids the awkwardness of people asking, “Why do you call your mom Shelley? Isn’t she your real Mom?” It would solidify something between us, perhaps. I hated not being called Mom, when the title was reserved for someone who was not present in this little girl’s life.
But I was wrong.
The lady who was “not present” was very much present. As much as I wish this little girl had always been with me, that I was the one who raised her from birth, that I was the one who had taught her to walk and talk and be who she is, I am not. “Mom” was someone else for eight and a half years. The lady who did all of those things still exists out there in the world, and has a strong tie in this little girl’s heart. She is a part of who this little girl is, and that will always be.
My sweet husband, who is right an inordinate amount of times in our parenting debates, advised that we should just “wait it out”. She would eventually call us Mom and Dad on her own. He’s patient. I’m not. It annoyed me to feel like her big sister or caregiver, and not her mother.
Suddenly out of left-field, she just started calling me either of “Mom”, “Mommy” or “Mama”. All the time. There was no discussion or decision moment, just a change.
I have no idea what changed to make her suddenly feel like bestowing that title on me. All I know is that now I am Mom and my daughter chose that name for me.
Oh, and the Broncos took home silver. Go Broncos!