When I was a little girl, I thought that if I had a little boy one day that I would name him Cody or Colton. If I had a little girl, her name would be Madison, and she would probably go by Maddie. When I grew up, I knew that if I had children, I would want them to have a name that was sounded beautiful, different, uncommon....yet not strange. Then when Cody and I discovered that I was with child, I called that precious heartbeat Ella. When I found out that the precious heartbeat was a boy heartbeat, I made lists of names: Everett, Rylan, Landon, Colin, Ryder, Lance, Dylan, Emmet,... (Then Cody eliminated most of the names on the list because he once knew someone who had a cousin who named his dog the name in consideration...or something nearly as complicated). After many lists and eliminations, we finally decide that we are going to be Ryder Luke's parents, and Jonie has his name written in thread on every bag and blanket she can find before he even arrives. And then it turns out that all that fuss over Ryder's name didn't matter very much, because he gets a little older and decides his name is Batman, or Robin, or Master Yoda, or most often lately, Captain America...but those are all other stories.
And now Ryder has named me. We encouraged our parents to decide on their grandparent names, but I never thought about what my name would be. It turns out that it didn't matter so much about that, since Ryder has his own ideas about my name, too. When he was learning to talk, and he started saying "mama," I didn't care that he might have been referring to me or to Aprilia, or to Cody, or the wall, I was amazed to hear my child say MY name after months of saying , "Not Dada. Mama. Maaaa-maaa." And not too long after he started saying Mama, he started to say it in the sweetest sentences, like "Love you, Mama," or "Thank you, Mama." And as he grew, he has called me Mom and Mama and Mommy, and there are no words to equal how right it is to hear your son call for his mom.
But now, my very big boy four year old, has abandoned those early names, and has named me Mother. When he talks to me or about me, he calls me Mother...a name that I would have thought sounded formal and uncomfortable, a word too big for a child who still will say he liked-ed that psketti, who loves being tickled, and will sit with me to be rocked and read a story. But when Ryder calls me Mother, it doesn't sound too formal at all, and although I share this name with so many other women, it is MINE, and it is ME, and it is PERFECT. I may be daughter, and sister, granddaughter and aunt, friend and wife, but in all those relationships, I am still Kristy. But only to Ryder is my relationship and my name all rolled up into one complete word- filled with images of arm hugs and growing boy, scents of No More Tears shampoo and bedtime lavendar lotion, sounds of giggles and eating noises, tastes of sun grown strawberries and front porch watermelon, and feelings of pure and innocent love-Mother. And I know that all the mothers who have been named by their children, share the same sense of identity as they hear their own name...whether it is Mom, or Momma, Ma, or Mother...when it is uttered in the voice of her child, that name is only for her, a secret code of memories and moments meant for noone else in all the world.
And while I love being Ryder's mother, sometimes I long to escape for a few moments from being Mother, and to be just Kristy. But the older Ryder gets, the more I realize that I will never be just Kristy again, because during those moments when I am away from my son, I know that I will return to him, waiting for Ryder's hug, for his naming as he tells me "Mother! I missed you!" And then I will say, "I missed you, too, Ryder...or Batman...or Captain America...or...."