For a long time my stepdaughter called me Mommy as much as she called me by my name. Oddly, when she wasn’t calling me mommy, she called me her mother’s name. She was only two; my guess was that maybe she thought it was another name for a mother-figure.
I’d read that you shouldn’t ask your stepchild to call you mom, so we ended up having her call me by a name that rhymes with her BM’s name instead: Shelly. I never told her not to call me Mom, though. In the beginning it was for selfish reasons—I melted every time she looked up at me with her little brown puppy eyes and called me Mommy. Later, after changing her poopy diapers, holding her hand while she toddled, kissing her boo-boos, helping her learn to use the Big Potty, and having her tell me “I love you,” I felt like I’d earned it.
When she turned four, though, a guilty look started crossing her face whenever she called me Mommy, and then she would quickly blurt out, "sorry, I mean Shelly." Then one night, just after we walked in the door, she said "Mom-" and then shut her mouth and looked scared. Quickly she peered up at me and said, earnestly and quietly, "You're called Mommy but you're called Shelly." My heart broke a little. Did her real mother hear her refer to me as Mommy and tell her not to call me that? I wouldn't be surprised, and I guess she'd be within her rights. Still.
That left me being called Shelly almost 100% of the time. I’d hated it from the start; it always sounded like nails on chalkboard to me. (No offence to any Shelly’s out there; it just seemed so weird to have her call me a name I didn’t think of myself as.) As time went on it frustrated me more and more.
I finally realized last week just how ridiculous this whole name game has been. Looking back, I wish I’d told her that she could call me Mommy in our house if she wanted to. Or, that I’d come up with some other mommy-like name, or just stuck with trying to get her to call me by my real name.
I decided Sunday to start trying to have her call me Meesha. I even marshaled up the courage to explain the situation to her BM.
Unfortunately it’s not going very well. My stepdaughter got very angry at me for asking her to call me something different than what she’s used to, and she’s only remembered my real name a couple of times so far. My plan is to just stick with it. I’d rather she called by my real name and be irritated with me for a while than have her continue to call me Shelly and me be irritated at her for the rest of my life.
Has anything like this happened to you? I know a lot of stepmothers struggle with what their stepchildren call them, but so far I haven’t heard of anyone else with quite the same problem. What do you think?