Naming Names

My husband often repeats a family catch-phrase, “Call me anything but late for dinner”.

I guess I can go with that. I am who I am no matter what I am called.  Although I have been touchy about some things.

I don’t like people shortening my name to Lynn. My sister-in-law is the only one who gets away with that. Oh, and when I was a child I was called “Ninna” because one sister couldn’t say my name. When my two oldest sisters were alive they used that pet name now and then.

In addition to all of the mispronunciations due to an unorthodox spelling of my name, I have had more names through the years: Mrs., daughter, Mom (Mommy, Mother), Grammy, etc.

And in recent years I am again called, Sweetie, Dear, Honey, by absolute strangers behind counters, waiting tables and passing me on the street. I’ve given up being irritated about this as I was when I wrote a few years ago. It’s just that I know how old they think I am when they do this. I suppose it has always been the categorization reflected in such diminutives that bothers me. When I was young I didn’t want to be objectified. Nowadays I recognize that it is a way of identifying how I am seen, but it may also carry a bit of cultural affection for elders.

As a child I was never allowed to address an adult by their first name without adding a qualifier. Friends became “Aunts” and “Uncles”. At our small fundamentalist church  “Brother” and “Sister” replaced “Mister” and “Mrs.” when familiarity broke down barriers.

A few years ago I thought it over  and decided that it was time for change. I announced to my children and grandchildren that it was fine to call me by my given name. I had some urge to be recognized as a person instead of by a role. Only two of my family really listened…or were comfortable with the concept. My younger son and his son began calling me by my first name.

I like it. For me it represents being seen as a person rather than in a role. But none of the other names bother me either. And if all of my kids and grandkids began calling me Lynda, it might feel strange. Am I finally happy enough with who I really am, that you can call me anything…?

BTW, recently my younger son sent me an email with the salutation, “Hey Mama”. That felt good, too.




  1. If you go to my “About” page on my blog, you will find some interesting things about my name too. I am now called by many young people by my first name though I found it rather unsettling in the beginning coming as I do from a very hierarchical society, If you have the time and inclination, there are quite a few posts on the subject of names on my blog and this is just one of them.


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