You Can Call Me…

When Ben was about three, he started calling me Caroline. It didn’t bother me, really, and particularly since we were in the midst of a move, and he was about to become a big brother, I wasn’t going to quibble over it. Sometimes he called me Mama, sometimes he called me Caroline; I always answered.

“Caroline” has come and gone the past couple years, with no discernible pattern, though he definitely uses it more than Mama these days. Lately he’s started to call Tony (up till now always Dada) by his first name, too.

Now Eli’s gotten into the act, alternating his regular Dada with a new and emphatic “Da-deee” and calling me what he can manage of my first name: “Kay-rah” (sounds like a radio station, doesn’t it? “You’re listening to K-Rah: All Mama, All the Time…”) Maybe replacing Da-dee with To-neee is next?

This may seem very 70s and very California of us, that we let our kids use our first names, but it doesn’t really feel like that to me. This is far from how Tony and I were raised, far from what I expected of our family life, but turns out to be one of those surprises that I’m just fine with. I love my kids to call me Mama, but they say my first name with love, too, and that’s all that really matters to me.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Caroline, I enjoy your blog. Funny story along these lines. Some friends of ours are called by their first names by their son. We were out to dinner with them once and noticed the kid would address his father as “John” while his wife called him “Daddy.” Funny. Jean K.

    p.s. I’m enjoying seeing the contributors list at Mama Phd.

  2. Mom says:

    It has sounded to me as if Ben tended to say “Car’ry-line” – or is that only sometimes?

  3. Lilian says:

    I think it’s perfectly fine. People find it hilarious that our sons have learned to call us “Mamãe Lilian” and “Papai xyz”. They hardly ever use our first names alone, but people are surprised that they use our names (we talk about each other that way too with them). Once in a while they’ll call us by our first names and I’m comfortable with that.

  4. Lahdi says:

    I loved reading this entry, and have often wondered how other mothers my age feel about this subject. My 3-yr old once called me Lahdi, but I gently corrected him, “James, honey, I’m Mommy to you.” I can feel the happiness in your statement that there’s love in “Caroline” when Ben addresses you. For me, though, there are three levels of connection I make with people, based on how they address me. There are those who call me Hannah — they can’t possibly know me at all. Most people call me Lahdi, whether and when they love me or not. But there are only 2 people in the whole universe today who call me Mommy, and it’s that tiny membership of 2 plus me, that closes my circle and makes me whole.

  5. Caroline says:

    Lahdi, that’s just the loveliest comment ever. You have me reconsidering this first name thing…