Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How I Got My Name

I kind of use this blog as a place to keep a record of things, just in case they get lost in memory or physical record, with time. I just realized, after that last post, I never explained how I got my name.

Here, I posted on how we determined our family name. Just after that, though, we had to figure out what our boys would call us. They would soon be on their way home.

Again, being a relatively new sort of family in these parts, there was little to go on. Both Rob and I call our fathers "dad" and our mothers "mom," but neither of us was really wanted that last title ;-).

It turned out a tradition had already been established for our families. Where there are two fathers, one was most often "daddy" and the other "papa". The poor lesbians often have to rely of the subtle inflections their child puts into the word "mom" but you'd be surprised how accurately those mother's ears can discern between the two words, "mom" and "mom".

To tell the truth, I didn't like "papa" at first; it felt unfamiliar, kind of old world ("father" was right out). We both wanted "dad" and some gay couples do both take the title, but we thought the name should be different.

So who gets "dad"? Rob had just taken my family name... I was in no position to debate ;-)

It was one of those things that was cleared up in a moment. I was in the car (driving on 94th south in fact :-)) listening to This American Life and a family was the subject; I can't remember why. In the program, a son was talking to his father. He never referred to him as "dad"; he called him "pop." I can't even remember the topic of the program or what they were talking about. I just remember sensing in his voice that very familiar relationship, the love that son felt for his father; I knew the same for in the man I called my "dad".

Suddenly, just like that, "papa" (or "pop" when they get older and stop calling Rob "daddy") felt right. It felt perfect. I'd not be a "dad". I am, in fact such a mixture of my parents' personalities, I was suddenly sure that I should take on "papa". Today, our boys will even correct people when they assume they have two "dads"; to them a dad and a papa are very different parents. Anyway, I called Rob and surrendered "dad" immediately :-).

And that's what I am now and I can't imagine being anything but a "papa". That name comes before my given name, before "son", before any professional title. As we both agree, it even comes before "husband". It's hard to believe the word that has become my defining title once sounded a bit unfamiliar.

5 comments:

Kengo Biddles said...

I call my dad, "pop" when speaking with him most the time; my wife and I have decided to call my parents "Mami " and "Papi" and my wife's parents "Mémé" and "Pépé". They're all french terms of endearment for grandparents and saves the trouble of having to say "Grandpa Biddles" or "Grandma Arnaud."

angryyoungwoman said...

I used to call my dad Pop. I think it was because of that Dr Seuss book Hop on Pop. I thought it was pretty funny when I was a kid.

The only kids in my life are my nieces and nephs, but I love the way they refer to me as "Auntie Hil." It touches my heart, even when they're complaining: "but, Auntie Hil, I set the table last night!"

Eleanor's Papa said...

I chose "Papa" because my recently deceased grandfather had always gone by "Pops," and I wanted to honor him. Although looking around I'm interested to see that most of the stay-at-home fathers I know are the Daddy and the breadwinners are the Papa. Eleanor's Daddy teases my radio addiction by referring to NPR as "the Provider"; maybe Papa sounds like "provider"....

Another gay semantic milestone: last week we and another couple with a kid shared a cabin for the first time at the Seattle Men's Chorus retreat. It was a culture shock for some, but Eleanor and Tryg were well received. And a couple of guys came up to us and said "You've given 'The Daddy House' at Retreat a new meaning."

Scot said...

I'm kind of surprised both you, kengo, and angryyoungwoman use "pop" for your dad. I never really heard it used in my upbringing (aside from the pops that you drink or those that are hopped upon).

Eleanor's Pop

"Although looking around I'm interested to see that most of the stay-at-home fathers I know are the Daddy and the breadwinners are the Papa."

Odd that. I wonder why? Though, our close gay-dad friends are the other way around.

JB said...

How interesting. I call my dad Pop. It's a term of endearment and feels more familiar and less formal to me than Dad. I'm sure your sons will have very different differences between the two, but that's really great that they have a good title for you both. ;)