Limited Language and the Love in Blended Families
There is an unseen hurdle in blending a family that is virtually not there. As blended families strive to create a feeling and vision of one family, the english language has yet to evolve enough to accomodate that desire. The words that are needed, are simply not there.
When my husband and I were first married I was called “Mom” by my children, Cove and Summer and I was called “Ivy” by Rocky, Dylan and Rainy whom my husband brought into my life. Eventually, this difference in name-calling, that is common in blended families, would no longer be acceptable to the children. To them, as we were trying to blend our family to become one, this one disparity created a vibration of separateness.
This is what came to be: After a couple of years of being together, our son Rocky stated, “It’s weird and it makes me feel as though I am different when I call you Ivy and Cove and Summer call you Mom.” At the time I explained that the english language can be very limiting and it would be nice if there was a word that lay between mom, stepmom and my formal name, but there was not. In time, I hoped for that to change as the population of blended families grew and the need for such a word was created due to necessity. However, that time had yet to evolve and it still has not.
In trying to come up with a solution and also feeling the same way, I suggested that Rocky, Dylan and Rainy create a nickname for me to soften the difference. I explained that I loved nicknames and I find them to be cozy, a sign of closeness and they are a form of intimacy. The concept was perfect for them.
The children followed through and came up with the nickname, “Nani” which was derived from the movie we had seen several times over called “Lilo and Stitch.” The character Nani was a caretaker to her little sister. She was not her mom, but her role was to be a mom. The nickname caught on and for a couple of years I became “Nani” to Rocky, Dylan and Rainy.
As in dominos, one thing led to the next. Cove and Summer thought it would be nice if they could call Rocky, Dylan and Rainy’s dad something different than “Allen.” They all came up with “Da.” They did not want to call him “dad” which was reserved by their father and my former husband. So they took off the ending “d” and found a way to create a nickname that was intimate and a recognition to his nurturing.
After some time passed Rocky, on his own, started calling me “Mom.” The others followed and, eventually, all the children picked up the name “Da.” The children wanted equal emotional rights and not be different than each other. This was the path that came to be and we became “Mom and Da” to all of our children.
I wish the story could end there. But it would have been irresponsible and insensitive to not address being called “mom” to Rocky, Dylan and Rainy’s mom and Allen’s former wife, Robin. I told her what transpired. She did not like it and, understandably, explained to the children many times that I was not their mom. However, we both knew, as moms, that attempting to take that away from the children would not go well for either of us or for the children. I also let her know that I was not attempting to replace her role, as their mother. I also let the children know that calling me “Mom” may cause Robin discomfort. They understood this: yet, the children’s unity took precedence and they had confidence that their mom would have the strength and understanding to move forward and allow them the freedom to call me “Mom.” It came to be that, I became their “Other Mom”.
In regard to where the story began and the initiation of a nickname to replace formality and taking a step toward blending, having a nickname was one of the best things we did. I would not encourage where my story went; but, I would not be honest if I did not like that I am “Mom” to all of the children and I am rewarded with the title of such. However, I would suggest the notion of having a nickname replace a first name of a parent.
I was amazed how a nickname, that was synonymous with stepmom and mom would bring all of us closer together.
In this case the children contributed to the oneness of the family and that one litte thing calmed the vibration of differences that can come the blended families way.
I would like to end this with a beginning. If you have any ideas or names that you can think of that can broaden our english language for blended families, your contribution would be an amazing thing. Let me know…