I have never given birth. I do not own the title of Mother, Mom, Mama or Mommy; that job is actively taken. So, what (who?) am I to this child I am helping raise? And, does it matter what I’m called?
Before my recent marriage, I was “the girlfriend”. This always felt belittling (to say the least) of my live-in relationship that included half custody of a diapered two-year old boy. During this time I certainly wished for an easy title that would in itself explain and honor our relationship to one another. Saying “he’s my boyfriend’s son,” certainly didn’t do our hugs and love any justice.
Now I am officially the Stepmother. This is only marginally better, though certainly easier when making small talk. The idea that it “takes a village” may be widely accepted; but when I try to explain the dynamics of our family, I often feel like an awkwardly placed third wheel. As though the claim of parenthood is an overstep on my part.
Luckily with my husband and stepson’s biological mother, I am an integral part of a well balanced tricycle. All three of us, rolling along, respectfully doing our parts. The lack of an official title within this sphere causes me no pain; we are all on a first name basis. I may not be the Mother, but I am a Parent.
With The Noodle (or my Stepson, if you’d rather), I go by: Lawa, Lora, and many other approximations of Laura.
“Hey Noodle, guess what?” I ask.
“What?” he replies.
“Ohhhh chiiicken butt…” he mutters.
“Guess what?” I ask again.
“I looove you,” I say in a singsong tone.
“Love you too,” he smiles.
Would I gain so very much from an official title?
The answer is: no, not where it matters. When I hear The Noodle say my name, I know that I can wait for the rest of the world to catch up us and our nontraditional parent-child relationship. He and I have our own thing going, and some approximation of my given name will do just fine.