What’s In a Name?

I’ve been called a lot of things during my lifetime.  Some were even complimentary.  Others…not so much.  But being called “Mommy” has, by far, exceeded all my expectations.

As a child, I thrived on being a daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, niece and friend.  I felt great pride in being called “college graduate,” “intern” and finally, “career woman.”  I was overcome with excitement and accomplishment by my roles as “world traveller” and “black belt.”

When I earned the title of “homeowner,” I felt like my life’s resume was finally starting to come together.  Then I muddled my way through “fiance,” “wife” and “divorcee.”  At the same time, I became a member of the “downsized” and “unemployed.”  I wallowed in self-loathing and pity for as long as I could stand it, but I refused to allow myself to be burdened with the label of “failure.”  Thankfully, blessed with my aforementioned roles as daughter, sister, cousin, niece and friend, I lifted myself out of that senseless, black pit and became the embodiment of “perseverence.”  I soon reclaimed the role of “wife,” and embraced my new title of “stepmom.”

Once afraid of losing my identity to the self-concocted confines of marriage and motherhood, I now clung to the sweetness of my new-found roles.  The realization struck me.  Hard.  I didn’t lose, I gained.  I was still Michelle, and all of those other names I earned or was lucky enough to stumble upon along my life’s sometimes rowdy road.  But now I was also, “M—’s mom” and “D——’s wife.”  I was a chef, taxi driver, maid, secretary, accountant, nurse, teacher, disciplinarian, bodyguard and homemaker.  I was love.  All wrapped up, in a tough but cozy little package.  I was a gift to those I held dear, as they were gifts to me.

Not long afterward, our family was blessed with another gift.  We named her Katelyn.  But she has many other names, too.  Daughter, sister, granddaughter… And after only 16 months, she’s already acquired the names “imp,” “monkey” and “Trouble.” Yes, with a capital “T.”  I smile as I try to  envision all the other names she’ll acquire over her lifetime.  Gymnast?  Veterinarian?  Girlfriend?  Scientist?  But it’s when I think about the name that will eventually make her heart leap right out of her chest –as mine did, and still does– that my throat catches.  I pray God grants me enough time to see  that blessed event.

Suddenly, I’m roused from my brief reverie.  I hear her long before I can see her.  “M-om-m-my.”  Out pops a pair of twinkling brown eyes, full of curiosity and mischief. As she peeks around the side of the couch, she grins, and those gorgeous eyes crinkle at the corners.

“Mommy!” she shouts, triumphantly.  I smile, from the inside out.  The majestic sound caresses not only my ears, but my heart.  I pull her into my arms and scatter kisses across her face.  She makes a little humming sound as she plants one of her own on my mouth and looks up at me.  “Mommy.”

What’s in a name?  Everything.

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