Trinity of moms make for happy life, complicated card search

I call three women Mom.

The first is the one who gave birth to me. Makes sense. And although I call her Mom, she remains mysteriously under the impression that I prefer to call her Mommy, even though I haven’t called her that in approximately 30 years. I still receive voicemail messages like this:

“Hi Mike, it’s Mommy. Sorry I missed you. Me and Daddy are on our way to The Grove for dinner … probably for pizza. But Daddy said he might get a hamburger. You know Daddy! Anyway, I’ll try and catch up with you later. Oh, before I forget – Susan McDougal died. I think you played baseball one year with her nephew, Billy. Sad. OK, love you!”

I also call my mother-in-law Mom. It’s drastically underrated, the transition from referring to your in-laws as Mr./Mrs. [last name] to Mom and Dad. I distinctly recall as a child being perturbed by watching my own parents execute this societal norm. My dad would call my Mum “Mom” and I’d think “IF NANA WAS HERE SHE’D BE PIIIIISSED.” (I thought in ALL CAPS as a child for some reason.)

That’s the thing—never for a second did I feel uncomfortable referring to my in-laws by these affectionate terms, but I always worried how my parents would react. They maintain they don’t mind whatsoever—how could they, lest I call them hypocrites—but my parents and in-laws are friends, so this dilemma usually manifests itself in real time. At a family party I’ll say, “Hey, Mom …” and both of them will turn around, and I’ll feel obliged to combat the awkwardness by saying something inappropriate like, “Oops, I mean the one who once nourished me with her bosom.”

(Because my younger sister is married to my wife’s brother, her and I often find ourselves having to elaborate. We’ll be having a conversation about Mom for 10 minutes and one of us will say, “Wait—who are we talking about here?” And the other will say something like, “Mom Mom or, worse, Mom Kenny.” Sorry you had to read that, Mom [Kenny].)

I also sometimes call my wife Mom. I do this as a way of speaking on behalf of the family, like if I’m home with the girls and my wife walks through the door I’ll say, “Hi, Mom!” Cute and normal, right? Well guess what? Wife Mom can’t stand when I do this. She says it is weird because she’s “not my mother.” Ha, ha … classic Mom.

No matter what I call them, I feel very blessed to have this trinity of mothers in my life. When I go to the store to purchase their respective Mother’s Day cards (which I didn’t do this year, so hopefully this column works), I feel fortunate to have to search in a million different sections: Mom from Son; Mom from Us; Mother-in-Law; Wife from Kids But Really from Husband; Grandmother from Kids Where Mom/Dad Has To Cross Out “Grandmother” And Write In Whatever Affectionate Term Your Kids Actually Use, etc.

Often it takes a strong sense of maturity to truly appreciate your blessings, and as a grown man with a family of his own, I can proudly say Happy Mothers Day, Mommy! And you too, Mom! And you too, Mom Babe! And all you other moms out there who have nourished with their … love.

Note: This column appears in the 5/8 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/9 issue of the Peoria Times.