What's In A Name?
Calling Each Other "Mommy" And "Daddy" Nearly Killed My Sex LifeBy Samantha Dunn
Jimmy is the man I married. Not to brag or anything, but, ladies, he's about the sexiest thing on two legs. I'm talking James Dean, stop-your-heart good-looking kind of sexy — no joke — what with his lean frame and his broad shoulders, his cleft chin and his flinty stare.
Before we met, Jimmy had been a tattooed, guitar-playing, motorcycle-riding bad boy who smashed hearts on Saturday night, but still helped old ladies cross the street to church on Sunday morning. For some reason he made up his mind that he loved me, and then he became like the wolf who suddenly decides he wants to be domesticated and comes into the house to curl up by your fire. Fierce and protective and loyal, that's the Jimmy I married.
But about 18 months ago when our son, Benen, was born, "Jimmy" started to go away. He's been slowly replaced by "Daddy." ...Read More
Let me explain: When I was pregnant I read every tidbit on child rearing and child psychology I could Google, operating under the grossly mistaken assumption that I could, somehow, you know, study up on mothering and be perfect at it. Unlike some other people I know. (Oh, hi Mom! I didn't know you read articles online. ...)
In my defense, that strategy had worked before — I'd always been an A student. (Or maybe it was B+. ...) Anyway, one of the developmental theories I read was that pronouns can confuse babies while they're acquiring language, so it's best to use nouns (i.e. real names) in all sentences.
I explained to Jimmy all that I'd learned and as soon as Benen was born we started our language acquisition campaign. Which, in practice, sounds like:
"Did Daddy really just drink the rest of that bottle of chardonnay Mommy was saving for Mommy?"
"Does Daddy want frozen pizza for dinner again, or should Daddy just take Mommy and Benen out for Chinese?"
"Give Mommy the paring knife Benen grabbed off the counter! NOW!"
The theory seems to have its merits in terms of child rearing. Our boy does know the names of most people and things in his immediate world, and he talks at such great lengths I'm considering renting him out to U.S. senators staging filibusters. (The fact that 90 percent of what he says is unintelligible jibberish is a plus, right?)
The unintended side effect, however, wasn't mentioned in any of the articles I Googled — namely that this habit has become so ingrained we find ourselves doing it even when Benen isn't around:
"Daddy, do you want to watch The Office tonight? It's a new episode."
"Sure Mommy. Do you want me to make some popcorn later?"
You have to understand, "Jimmy" and "Sam" are the kind of people who gallop horses through the hills or go to a dive bar to catch a band. They stay naked for an entire weekend and exist on great sex, chocolate and champagne. Clearly, that's not possible when you have an adorable, curly-headed hellion in diapers, but these days even the shadow of those two are nowhere to be found. This "Mommy" person doesn't wash her hair all week and slicks it back into a bun, while this "Daddy" guy pulls on the same pair of sweat pants when he gets home from work that he's worn for most of the month.
And you can see the problem of trying to shift gears, as it were, when the sun goes down. Yes, we're exhausted. And, yes, I know it's all part of the reality of settling down and having a child, but it certainly doesn't help that you're now eying the person you've called "Mommy" or "Daddy" for most of the day and trying to imagine ... ewwwwh. That's just wrong.
"What's in a name?/That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet," Juliet to Romeo in Shakespeare's play. Obviously, they were just dating.
Don't get me wrong — this Daddy guy is great, a real mensch. He's attentive, loving, available. He dotes on his son. It's just that I'm still in love with Jimmy, and I can tell by the way he sometimes puts his arms around me when I'm in the kitchen slaving over a new flavor of Hamburger Helper, or the way he presses his lips to mine for our kiss goodnight, that he is still in love with Sam. All of which has lead me to rethink this whole language development theory in the first place. I mean, after all, my own mother never read a parenting book in her life let alone subscribed to any developmental theories, and I somehow turned out fine. (Right?)
My point is, I'm thinking that supporting my child's language development with the long-range, not-so-secret hope of his landing in the Ivy League might not be worth the demise of Jimmy and Sam. I mean, language development — isn't that what Elmo is for? Will a few pronouns really scar him for life any worse than spending a weekend with his Grandma Dee?
I'm the one who got us into this habit, so I'm going to have to be the one to get us out. From the minute my husband walks in the door tonight, it's going to be "Jimmy this" and "Jimmy that." Benen will just have to get with the program that Mommy and Daddy are different people to each other.
Wait. Can I still get Jimmy to handle the poopy diapers Daddy would change? Maybe I should hold off until after potty training. ...
Calling each other "Mommy" and "Daddy" may zap your sexual desire.Jupiterimages/Thinkstock