I prefer to be called “Mama” to “mommy” or “mom” — although I respond to to all of the above. I confess I harbor envy of women who have more than one child. But, as my sage friend told me years ago before I had my daughter and was longing for a child, “you can be a mom now, you don’t have to wait.” I was furious with her at the time (I often respond that way to “inconvenient truths”) but I came to embrace that philosophy, to look for opportunities to be mom-like as I went through the world. If I made eye contact with a parent and got what looked like the go-ahead, I made goo goo faces at babies in the grocery store. I love reading books to my superhero fairy princess’ classmates. I love to teach my class at my synagogue — it has been hard at times but they’ve taught me so much. None of these things is the same as being a full-time no-holds-barred mom, which is thrilling, exasperating, fulfilling and exhausting. But these do seem to travel along similar neural pathways as the ones I use for the full-time mommying.
I do feel proud of how I’m raising my daughter in terms of regarding the world around her and the living creatures in it with regard and respect. There are times when we both falter, but overall, she knows that I would not tolerate her rejecting interacting with another human being because of any sort of difference. She is encouraged to set and observe boundaries around safety, but she also thrives on connection and does not (yet, or maybe she won’t ever) find age, gender, ethnicity, culture, size, language, differences in physical, mental, emotional abilities to be barriers to her ability to connect. We were finishing up a dance class — I was inside of the building and she was about 5 steps away just outside the door, and I heard her yell at a passerby “I love your rings!” She said it twice, and then, talking to herself, “I liked her rings.” I have no idea what age, gender, ethnicity, culture, size, language, abilities this person was she was talking with. I don’t raise her to be “blind” to differences, she does notice them, but she notices other things simultaneously, I think, like adornment, friendliness, openness, kindness. She’s a tough kid, doesn’t tolerate disrespect from anyone, but she also responds well to respect.
I have to go make a blintz for my baby, who isn’t a baby anymore. If there’s anyone nearby who could use a few minutes while someone else holds their babe-in-arms (I remember how hard it was to take a shower) — I’m available. Call me up and I’ll come over if I can! And the little girl is getting somewhat more interested in babies these days, too.