Mom Thinks Her In-Laws are Dehumanizing Her by Nicknaming Her “Mama”

“Our names are an incredibly important part of our identity. They carry deep personal, cultural, familial, and historical connections. They also give us a sense of who we are, the communities in which we belong, and our place in the world.” Quoted from On Importance of Names by Iman Baobeid, The University of British Columbia.

A sense of who we are . . . our place in the world.

Photo: YouTube/National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

This is the dilemma of this young mom who feels she’s losing her identity and her place in the world because she’s not being called by her name anymore. Instead, everyone calls her “Mama,” and the gifts she receives are all for a mother.

An Original Poster with the username u/Ok_Corner754 is this frustrated mom who posted about this particular struggle on Reddit’s r/AmItheA–hole forum. She wrote: “I have 2 kids, 2f, 4f. I f-cking hate how everyone thinks of me as being just a mommy now. I don’t get to be my own person. I’m just mommy. Husband doesn’t face this. He gets gifts from everyone that have to do with his hobbies. Me? I get a bunch of mommy shit. Tee hee, mommy needs wine! And like matching outfits. I don’t mean like, one of those cutesy matching pajama sets that the nurses and horse girls wear in their staged Christmas insta pics. I mean like, people actually think I’m going to go out in public wearing some cutesy matching outfits with my toddlers. As though I think they’re mini versions of myself? Or dolls?”

And she finally lost her temper when they visited one of her sisters-in-law. When SIL called her Mama, she replied with: “You know my name is (Carmen), right?” Her SIL looked at her with a funny, confused reaction and said, “Of course, silly.”

YouTube/National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

OP’s irritation didn’t end there, and she added, “So why do you keep calling me ‘mama?’ You aren’t going around calling (husband) papa.”

That was when SIL looked at her again, with an expression saying she was weird.

Well, that was how Christmas went by, with everybody calling her Mama and OP seething with fury.

She continued to relate about how she had tried to correct everybody, “I said that I’m not JUST a mom. I gestured to the things that husband got for Christmas from them and said, ‘Why didn’t you guys get him anything that says papa? Everything you gave me is somehow related to me being a mom. Why does HE get to be his own person?’ MIL grabbed my hand and squeezed it and said that she was sorry that she made me feel like this. She was just so excited about being a grandma, and she never really thought of things like that.”

YouTube/National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

But then her other two SILs came, and they clashed over this issue. OP felt like they were just being hypocritical when they voiced their concern for her. It ended with one of her SILs saying, “is being a mom somehow beneath you” and “do you think you’re better than the rest of us?” and similar accusations.

Finally, on their way home, her husband asked her why she’s been keeping her feelings for so long, but she replied that she wasn’t. She felt like his family was just not listening to her. Her husband expressed that he understood her, but he also said that OP needed to apologize to them because her outbursts had caused their weekend to be altogether less enjoyable to everyone.

OP’s reply? “I said sure, as soon as SILs apologize to me for dehumanizing me for years.”

YouTube/National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Well, the majority of the AITA members sympathize with OP and were lambasting her in-laws. Some even suggested how to get even with them by likewise giving gifts that relate only to their being aunties and granny.

But, where will all of it lead to?

Will her husband agree to go to NC with his family so OP could avoid them and shoo them away from her life? Or will the wife be forced to face the fact that she can’t blame everyone for using this nickname when she never told them she hates it.

The thing is, names do matter, but we’ll only lose our identity in a situation like this if we allow these things to get under our skin. The world is so broad, it’s not only about in-laws. OP can have more friends, although perhaps her social life is at a lull at the moment because her kids are still very young. But there’s an exciting future ahead when she’ll enjoy motherhood more and resume the pursuit of her personal aspirations once her horizons broaden again.

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