“What will he call you?” my mother asked when my wife, infant son and I visited her earlier this year. She wanted to know how our son, Ilan, would address us.
My mom is 82, an exile, a flexible Catholic like most Cubans, but I’m pretty sure that she -- like me -- never imagined asking such a question.
“Well, I suppose he’ll call us whatever he wants,” I said, grateful for her interest, “but for now, we say ‘mama’ for Megan and ‘mami’ for me.”
My mom nodded. Such a simple question, really, but such a milestone. My wife Megan and I had already noticed that, good intentions aside, the elderly women in my family -- and there are many -- were struggling with how to articulate my relationship to my son.
They all, like my mom, understood immediately and without hesitation that Ilan, who was carried by my wife, is family. In my mom’s bedroom, he has a place of honor in the grandkids’ photo gallery. Aunts, by blood and by choice, who might not normally come over to say hi when I visit my mom now dash over with gifts and kisses for Ilan.
But their tongues trip and tangle sometimes.
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