02/04/2015 02:53 pm ET

If You Aren't My Child, Don't Call Me Mom

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What is it about the word "mom"? It makes me want to choke. Not when I hear it in my own house, uttered by my own child, in reference to me. In that case I love it — heedlessly, actually, as if this universal and mundane moniker were a pet name bestowed upon me by my beloved. In this same context, I also love "mommy." And -- especially (I confess) -- "mama," which, when carelessly employed by an 11-year-old who can now say “shit,” holds within its two mirrored syllables a time, not so very long ago but seemingly in another epoch, when that selfsame child was learning to differentiate who in her tiny universe was who.

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