Spilled Thoughts
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sheet of paper with the word 'name' at the top

I had a thought today in class. We were discussing whether or not the character in a one of my classmate’s short stories should refer to his parent as mother, momma, or mommy. And then I started thinking. A name can mean so many different things. Mother is formal, it portrays distance. There is hardly a parent-child relationship that uses mother, unless it is a sign of respect. But momma is cultural: momma, mamma, mama. The spelling depends on the background, on the history of the parents and family. And mommy. Mommy is loving, it’s also childlike. And so I started thinking,

Our names are who we are; they’re everything. A name defines us, shapes us. We are referred to by our names. And a name has meaning. Parents may choose a name based on the zodiac sign, a relative’s name, or a search on an online dictionary. This name then grows on us and in us. As children, we accept this name as our own. We respond when we are called, we have confidence in our achievements. Hearing our name mentioned gives us pride, purpose.

But then we fall in love and we become Baby, Babe, Sweetie, Honey.
We have children and we are Dad, Mommy, Ma, Daddy, Father, Mama.
Our family grows and we are Auntie, Grandpa, Papa, Nana.

Do we lose ourselves, our true names, as we grow, as our lives change? Or our are lives enriched by the names we gain?

I am Marisa. I am Missa, Riss, Maris, Sissy, Donnelly, MD, Baby, Babe, Love, Miss Marisa, Miss Donnelly.

In the daycare I am an adult; to my parents I am a child. My teachers see me as a young adult, my sister sees me as a hero. To my friends, I am an equal. To my boyfriend, I am the other half of his heart.

Am I more or less of myself as my name changes? One day I will lose my name completely. I will become Wife, Baby, Mommy. Will I lose the person I am or become an even truer version of myself?

There is so much that names can give us; but is there much that they take away?

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Marisa Donnelly, M.Ed., is a writer/editor, credentialed teacher, proud bonus mama, and CEO of Be A Light Collective, a coaching and content creation business and digital marketplace. She is the Director of Donnelly’s Daily Apple, a flexible learning/tutoring and educational resource platform, and the lead voice for Momish Moments and Step by Step Parents, verticals dedicated to sharing and advocating for non-traditional parenting journeys. Marisa currently resides in San Diego, California, with her fiancé, kiddo, and their two rambunctious Pitbulls. ❤️

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