Any Other Name

She calls me “Mom Mom.” It’s kind of cute, I guess, but it’s what I called my grandmother. So it makes me feel like I should be calling jeans “dungarees,” complaining about the dry heat of California, expounding on the benefits of sleeping without underpants, and sending post cards from far-off places.

Mom Mom would absolutely love Z. As would my grandfather (plain old “Grandpa”) and Husband’s grandmother (“Mama Nona”), and so many other friends and family who have passed away. It gets me thinking, and remembering, and above all, hoping we can make these people come alive in our memories, so that she can learn about them too. I’ve never felt I had much of a heritage, because I’m a mixture of so many ethnicities no one ever bothered to keep track. Husband’s half-Italian, so we get a lot of through-the-generations-traditions from his side.

I think my “heritage” will have to come from the people I love, and I think I’ll need to remember them, find photographs of them, and tell Z all about them. I’ll need help from my family in remembering, but that’s what family is for, right?

And of course, we invent our own traditions and family culture as we go along, momming, writing, playing with our kids. It’s all (forgive the soft, poetastic description) part of the richness of life.

As far as my name, I won’t ask Z to call me anything different. But I’ve re-spelled my name to “Mamam” in my head. It has a European feel to it (“Maman” is French), so I can get on board with that. Especially if it erases those images of commando sleeping habits from my brain.

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