When John and I were planning our wedding, there was one word above all others that made me cringe. I felt embarrassed to say it.
Of course, I had nothing against the concept behind the word. We were definitely planning on doing it. I just couldn't say it.
It sounded so hokey. So unreal. It made me think of an advertisement for an airline or a resort, one that featured a woman with perfect teeth and flowing hair, curled against a bare-chested man on a beach with a sunset and an ocean breeze. I love sunsets and oceans but the word honeymoon made me think of a vacation, a couple, a life poured straight out of a can.
And that made me cringe.
I didn't want to speak the word and agree to whatever roles and images society had already pinned to my back. So we went on our "post-wedding trip." To San Francisco. We ate a ton of bread and walked everywhere and shivered in the sand the one day we took the bus to the beach. It wasn't a trip to feature in a wedding guide, but it was perfect. It was us.
Now, I can ask brides-to-be about their honeymoon plans with a totally straight face. The word doesn't bother me anymore.
But when I first dipped my toes into catapulted into this whole parenting thing, I found another word that made me cringe. A title. One that I'm blessed to claim as my own. But at first, I couldn't stand the word.
It rang so sing-songy in my ears. So cutesy. And I could just imagine that eeeeeee ending whined so easily. But more than that, the word Mommy conjured an image that I still don't fit.
It's the same woman from the airline ad but she has a couple kids now. Her hair is still long and her teeth are as white as ever, but she has on a blouse and sensible shoes rather than a bikini. She's pushing a child on a swing and in this frozen moment her smile is wide and her eyes are laughing. Her kid looks happy and the whole scene drips with bliss.
She probably wipes up spills that smile on her face. Kisses scraped knees and the tears really stop. She probably saves artwork and scrapbooks photos. Her lap is probably always open. She exudes confidence and authority. She's selfless. She's a Mommy.
That's not an image of me.
I grumble. I get frustrated when the crying won't stop. I purge coloring pages like it's my job. I have been known recoil from a cuddle because of morning breath and I know I spend too much time on the internet. I don't always miss the kids when I'm away. I second guess myself all the time. I don't always feel awash with bliss. And I'm definitely not selfless.
But Mama is my name around here. And somehow that turned the pressure off. Dissolved the image. Maybe I don't make a lot of freeze-frame worthy faces in the day-to-day grind, but I've found my groove. I pocket bits of bliss along the way and show my love the best I can. And it's just right. It's me.
Maybe the kids will fall into different speech patterns and they'll call me Mommy eventually. But it won't bother me. I know who I am.