Post of the Week: “What do you call your moms?”

postoftheweek_newEmma Tattenbaum-Fine has two moms, and recently tackled the age-old question of “What do you call your moms?

At her blog, Two-and-a-Half Women, Tattenbaum-Fine writes:

This question is difficult because it is both personal and political.  This feels to me like the sophisticated version of the needling question, “Yeah, but which one is your real mom?”  Except of course this question, about who gets to be called “mommy”, is more legitimate and from a quick scan of the blogosphere, it is obvious that even insiders (lesbian new moms) are losing sleep over this one.

I’d argue that sometimes the “What do you call your moms?” question is sometimes purely informational, e.g., when a teacher asks so that she knows how to refer to a child’s parents. I agree that it can be a subtle way to get at the “real mom” issue, however.

Interestingly, though, based on the more than 180 responses to my informal survey of lesbian-mom naming conventions, the mommy = bio mom equation doesn’t always hold true. (If you’d like to contribute your own experience to the “What do your kids call you?” survey, please do.)

Of course, I like Emma’s suggestion here:

I could, if I felt so inclined, call them both “water chestnuts”, just to mess with people.  I could say, “Guess what!?  My water chestnuts can legally get married now!”

Go read the rest of her post on names and her relationships to her bio and nonbio moms. Then come back here and see if you have any thoughts on the quandry of one of the mothers who participated in my name survey:

I so wish there was another word out there for “non-biological mother” (in a lesbian context, where there is a bio-mom who’s equally part of the parenting). “Non-biological mother” is defined by its negative quality: the person is defined as being *not* the biological mother. I want some word that is descriptive and informative, a word that would help adults describe these relationships we have with our kids to other adults. What I mean is, not something like “heart mom” or a term we might use with our kids, but rather something that could be used to explain our family composition in simple, direct terms.

Thoughts? Leave a comment.