Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's All in the Name

Taking my daughter to see her Babydaddy and his family is usually fraught with comical but edifying moments.

This time, on the first day of chag, I was seated with baby, Babydaddy, Aunt, and Grandmother at a pre-paid kosher restaurant when we were joined by a friendly, young couple. Aunt took it upon herself to introduce everyone by name. Then she got to me.

“This is my brother’s daughter, and this is
[awkward pause]
the mother.”

I will never get used to anyone referring to me and my daughter, from whom I have never been parted for more than 6 hours at a time, in these terms.

She’s MY daughter, and he is “the father,” if you want to be technical about it.

But I bit my tongue, as I do when Grandmother and Aunt talk about how much my daughter looks like her father.

Being “THE mother” is totally different than being so-and-so’s mother. “The mother,” seems purely biological, stripped of any kind of social relationships or community.

It feels a little like a slap, or perhaps a very limp, clammy handshake. After all, I used to have something of a friendship with this woman. How else could she have phrased it?

When it was time, the young couple said goodbye to each person by name until they got to me. “Good-bye,” they paused, clearly racking their brains for my name.

“The mother,” I prompted.

Quite honestly, I don’t usually think of myself as “A Mom” (an appellative I’ve never liked) any more than I think of myself as “the mother.” I’m my daughter’s mama, but to everyone else I’m just me (albeit, with a sidekick).

Yes, my daughter is the most significant aspect of my being right now, but when she totally consumes me, as she did when I was pregnant, I’m not fit for human society.

When I was four months along, I was introduced to a super-smart man who uses his powers for good and not for evil. As we crossed the street, he placed his hand on my back to warn me of a speeding car that appeared from nowhere. I FREAKED out.

Too full of my daughter, even though I wasn’t yet showing, I couldn’t bear to have a stranger touch me.

Not that I want to go around having strangers grope me, but it’s good for me to have a little psychological space.

In the meantime, and speaking of names, I am exercising other aspects of my identity as a guest host for the Burlesque Poetry Reading series at Café Rouge in November (the regular host is studying at Drisha this year). I need a good stage name.

As timely as it is, I’m guessing “Shmita” won’t quite do. Neither will “The Mother.” Maybe something more along the lines of Gigi or Lisette?

1 comment:

carly said...

I'm sorry I missed you in NYC, Miss Mother. Next time around! We'll call you by your names in Brooklyn. Lisette, Strumpet, Temptress, Adultress, etc :) Thanks for taking on my hostessing. I miss you!