to think MIL wanting to be referred to as "ma" is odd?

(48 Posts)
eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 10:20:15

This has been playing on my mind for a while so I'm genuinely not sure if I'm being a horrible DIL.

For background, I live with in laws and we're an Indian family. Might help for cultural views.

When DS was born I said to all grandparents they could choose what they wanted to be called. In laws didn't really pick anything so we defaulted to baa and dada (Gujarati terms that I used for my grandparents). I am mama.

In all fairness baa is quite an old fashioned term now, associated more with elderly ladies, but it was what came naturally and no other alternatives were proposed!

A couple months after DS was born, MIL kept saying to him, you're going to call me ma because it's short for grandma! We shrugged it off but she said it again a few times. DH then said no, we're sticking with baa now but she keeps persisting. I'm not entirely sure it's an innocent mistake (I.e not realising it's similar to mama) as she's once said to DS "you're my baby and I'm your mum". I think she really does want to be seen as a second mother to DS. Culturally, some grandmothers in extended families are seen as second mothers but that's largely because they do so much childcare! DH and I have done all the hard graft since DS was born and I don't really feel she's earned that title yet. If in a few years DS has a close relationship with her and does consider her another mother then that would be different.

Sometimes I feel invisible when DS is with me. We came back from a weekend at my parents and DS got a hello but I didn't! When I was with her alone later, she did ask how my parents are etc but I never get acknowledged in DS's company. Almost like my motherhood isn't acknowledged.

She is otherwise lovely and I've grown to understand her a lot after things initially being a bit turbulent with pregnancy/postnatal hormones! A lot of her quirks can be explained by some quite sad history.

Ds is coming up to 6 months and will soon be recognising people and things. It will break my heart if his first word is ma and he doesn't use it to mean me. I want to keep building my relationship with my MIL and want her to be a big part of my son's life. If anything happens to me and DH then we'd want his parents to look after DS to minimise the disruption in his life, so obviously I want them to be close.

But stuff like this just gets my back up and stops me trusting her with DS.

Am I just being precious and overreacting?

HappyDogRedDogToss Thu 11-Apr-13 10:38:00

So what do you refer to yourself as to DS?

MrsRajeshKoothrappali Thu 11-Apr-13 10:38:31

'Ma' is generally used by older Irish people for their mother.

I don't think you're unreasonable.

She does sound a bit odd. Calling your DS her baby is beyond weird.

Is there any way you can distance yourselves a bit?

Inertia Thu 11-Apr-13 10:41:30

As she's mentioned grandma , then why not use that ?

If DS's first word is Ma, then it's clearly short for Mama smile

innermuddle Thu 11-Apr-13 10:43:03

It does sound a bit odd. I would be really freaked out by the "I'm your mum"conversation, that is really strange.
Then again, my in laws accuse me of being very possessive of my children, (possibly they are right about this)so I may not be the best person to comment on this.
Does MIL behave as if she is mum, or was that just an isolated comment?

EuroShaggleton Thu 11-Apr-13 10:43:07

My closest friend is of Indian heritage (bengali) and her children call her parents didu and dada I think, which is I guess the equivalent of baa and dada. The kids' uncle is [name]-mama (v confusing for Westerners!). She calls her own mum "ma" herself.

It sounds like it's not just the name that's bothering you though, but the whole "second mother" attitude. How much time do you spend with her? If it's not that much, your baby is more likely to pick up baa from you than ma from her.

Beamae Thu 11-Apr-13 10:55:23

Something weird happens with MILs when grandchildren arrive. I keep reading the same issues over an over on MN. My MIL has gone so odd since my twins arrived, when she used to be quite easy to get on with. My girls don't call me anything yet. They can say mama and one of them had just started to connect the word with me, but doesn't actually call me mama yet. Last time we saw the PILs every time she said mama, my MIL claimed it for herself. Oh, she is saying grandma! Every time. I was seething because they have to learn ME first.

What I think is that this seems like a big issue now, but won't be at all important a few years down the line. Friction with MILs must presumably come from both sides. I just write it off as her being a bit insensitive and me being a bit over sensitive. It's not worth causing an argument over. I just bite my lip, suck it up and plan a minor revenge to make myself feel better. Knowing that she is extremely house proud, I say something like 'ooh don't touch grandma's tv table children, you'll get your hands all dusty'. grin

FariesDoExist Thu 11-Apr-13 10:58:06

My friend is Indian and calls her mother Ma. You need to sort this out, I think you just need to persist in calling her Grandma (or whatever name you'd prefer her to be known as) and stick to it. Your DS will soon start picking up on it, you need to resolve it as soon as possible. Your MIL should accept Grandma as she said herself Ma could be short for Grandma. Maybe you could refer to yourself as Ma?

It's lovely that your MIL will be a big part of your son's life and loves your son so much, but your DS will know who his mummy is no matter what happens.

eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 10:58:15

Hey everyone, thank you for your posts.

Although I live with in laws, MIL works so some days doesn't see DS if she comes home after bedtime routine has started. He will be in nursery when I return to work.

Calling her grandma is a good idea! DH doesn't like it as he can be quite traditional but I stand by letting grandparents choose.

I am mama and his maternal uncles are mamu so already a bit of confusion!

The I am your mum thing was an isolated comment and she hasn't done it again. I told DH about it at the time and he said not to take it too seriously. She doesn't behave like a mum and DH is good at curbing over involvement when she tells us how to parent! I breastfeed, DH and I do all the nappies, bathtime, taking him out, soothing when upset.

I've noticed MIL will do the ma thing when I'm out of the room mostly. I can still hear but it seems underhand to do it more around DH and not me.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Thu 11-Apr-13 10:59:21

Tell her Ma is for mother but that if she wants Grandma or Granny rather than Baa that's fine. She should not be setting herself as a second mother in completion with you that's not a grandmother's role at all.

eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 11:02:49

Oh Beame, I want to be like you and relax and shrug it off! I used to laugh as it was so ridiculous, but 6 months later it's made me paranoid.

Grandma sounds good. I'll go with that as she suggested and persuade DH to do the same.

Should we spell out that ma is too much like mama?

It did occur to me that many Indian people also call their mothers "ma". I did try to subtly claim it by pretending to teach my son how to say mama. Really exaggerating the maaaaa part!

chocolatetester1 Thu 11-Apr-13 11:04:52

Grandparents eh? Love them and yet find them the most annoying people on the planet too!
If the first word is 'ma' and she tries to claim it, I'd give her a massive grin and wink saying something like 'yeah grandma, you keep telling yourself that!' Then turn to the baby and say 'silly grandma, she thinks you're saying her name'.
Obviously, she'll hate it but your point will have been made reasonably cheerfully!
Can you tell I have to 'manage' my mil and dm? A lot!! gringrin

Primrose123 Thu 11-Apr-13 11:06:09

Something similar happened to me.

When DD1 was born, I was Mum or Mummy. My DM wanted to be Grandma - fine. My DMIL wanted to be Mam. I didn't like this, as I felt it was a term for a mother not a grandmother. I would have felt uncomfortable hearing my child call someone else Mam, and I also felt that she was trying to push in a little.

A bit of background, when DH was little, he called his mother Mam, and he called both his grandmothers Mam too. It doesn't make sense to me, to call three people the same thing!

In the end, we said that we didn't want Mam, as that was a name for a mother, so she picked Gran instead, which was fine with us.

OP if you are unhappy with that name, then change it now. It's too late if you child starts calling your MIL one name, and you want to change it later on, I just don't think it will happen. You are the mother, she is the grandmother.

eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 11:06:56

I think I also remember back to the early days, convinced that DS didn't love me, and maybe that insecurity is still there.

ConferencePear Thu 11-Apr-13 11:07:40

I called my mother 'Ma'. As a complete alternative you could try the French "Mammi" which I rather like.

eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 11:09:52

Oh thank you everyone! I see I need to tackle it head on, and I love the cheery responses. They've helped me see the lighter side!

You're all right. She'll be grandma now.

DH calls his grandmother "biju mum" which means another mum, so maybe that's what set the precedent for hus mum?

Doodledumdums Thu 11-Apr-13 11:11:23

If it's any consolation, my MIL is insisting that my DS calls her by her name, despite the fact that I have told her no about a million times! She also keeps refering to him as 'our baby,' which really annoys me, he is not our baby at all, he is MY baby! DS is 3 months old, so at the moment it's not an issue, but it will be fairly soon.

Sorry, no advice, but you have my sympathies!

eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 11:11:25

Mammi is nice! But in Gujarati that can also mean your maternal uncle's wife!

eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 11:13:33

Oh we got the "our baby" too. Most notably when I was told by MIL not to visit my friend's very premature baby in case of it having a negative effect on "our baby".

Still went.

eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 11:14:59

I'm making her sound horrible, she isn't. Just a very anxious person!

Beamae Thu 11-Apr-13 11:16:19

Oh believe me, I am not relaxed about it inside! I have to fight against my natural reaction which is fury. But I force myself to try to be rational. I am actually quite childish in my revenges. I have currently got my husband on side to wind her up that we are teaching the kids to call her gamgam. I can tell it irritates her but she has to laugh along because it is all in jest! Haha. Take that gamgam. I think seriously though, what you must keep in mind is that ultimately there is no battle to be won. You are the Mother. She can't possibly be more important than you in your child's eyes, no matter who calls who what!

whokilleddannylatimer Thu 11-Apr-13 11:21:39

Dc call me Ma. I have no idea where its come from, my family have all been Mum/Mummy. No one we know uses Ma.

The Irish thing is interesting, we have Irish heritage, wonder if its some weird in built thing ha.

RayofSun Thu 11-Apr-13 11:23:37

How about something along the lines of 'big ma' or 'baa ma/ dadi ma'. Basically a word that has ma in it as a compromise. My own mother said something along the lines of this to my ds5. It freaked me out too and I get on really well with my mother! I think (we are Indian too) they think it provides security for the kids knowing that there are lots of adults loving and looking out for them. As it is they can her nani ma which is fine but she had a conversation with him about how she was his big ma but it is slightly different as she is my mother. I agree, an alternative needs to be found in your case

eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 11:27:39

Oh Beamae, thank you for the much needed perspective. I think I got lost in my own thoughts. I thought DS living with and being constantly exposed to grandma might make me less of a female figure in his life.

I'm so torn between wanting distance but also for DS to love and trust her!

eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 11:31:45

I suggested dadi ma but again she thinks it's a bit elderly! My mum is nani.

I liked the idea of dadi and dada as paternal grandparents because that sounds pretty cute but it wasn't to be!

eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 11:32:50

I'm off out now but thank you to everyone who responded. Especially as it's another boring MIL thread!

vvviola Thu 11-Apr-13 11:34:44

Kids are funny though, they'll sometimes come up with a name all of their own.

DD2 calls my Mum "MumMum" (we guess from hearing me call her Mum. If you ask her to point Granny out, she'll point to Mum, but if you ask her "who is that?" it's always MumMum) and my Dad "Dat" (her attempt at Grandad I think). She may well change to Granny & Grandad as she gets bigger, but she may not.

My parents are rather glad DD1 did change - she called them Gammy & Gandalf for ages grin

My point being, your MIL may want a particular name, but you never know what your DS may come up with especially if you prime him like my DH may or may not have done with "Gandalf"

Tanith Thu 11-Apr-13 11:38:45

DH taught our eldest to call my MIL Gaa-gaa after a trying discussion about what she wanted to be called.

She hated it! Especially in public, when DS would innocently shout it to her smile

Viviennemary Thu 11-Apr-13 11:46:46

Grandma is fine. Ma isn't. Gran, Granny, Nan, Nanny, Grandmother, Grandma. Anything but not ma. Ma is mother. YANBU. She is.

joolsangel Thu 11-Apr-13 11:47:38

i think something odd happens to MILs when grandchildren come along. my own experience is MIL is muscling in and she often refers to our DD as her baby. this gets on my nerves and we say nothing but i do then make several points of saying to DD something like, now lets tell granny what youre doing or something, just to reinforce to her the granny word. she does like to try to take over and the more MIL tells herself our DD is her baby, the more she seems to be trying to muscle in. ive told DH that she has had her day at bringing up her children and her role is as a support and not to think of her self as a main decision maker or mother role. i would start saying to your baby that you are his ma but in a nice way. maybe its when they get to that age in life that MILs have some sort of broodiness that starts to kick in again and they are trying to get away with as much as they can. its sad really but you dont want to offend but then again, your DS first words to you are irreplaceable and ones to treasure so why should you lose out. keep reinforcing nicely to your DS in front of your MIL.

DontSHOUTTTTTT Thu 11-Apr-13 11:48:55

I think it doesn't matter and you shouldn't worry about it. I am sure you baby knows who his Mum is and that is all that matters.

quietlysuggests Thu 11-Apr-13 12:03:31

2 things -
1)Yes baby's first word will be (75% of the time) Da da da da sounds
Second word will be Ma Ma Ma Ma sounds
So you do need to sort it out before he starts to talk

2) You say you stand by letting your MIL choose her name
But she HAS chosen and you are trying to stop her from using her chosen name but without actually having to say "Sorry I got it wrong, we dont want you to choose your name, we want to choose for you"

Tell her plainly that someone at work told you that older/ rural/ poor Irish people call their mothers Ma and that has totally put you off and that therefore you will be calling her (insert name that you and DH agree on)

End of your discussion.

Believe me this type of issue is very common and only with the first born. By the time baby 2 comes along you will be so confident of your mothering abilities that any mothering feelings MIL has will pale in comparison and your attitude will be much more "I'm the mother so whatever".
I dont think your MIL sounds bonkers at all, I think we just dont get what a HUGELY emotional deal it is for MIL to have their first grandchild. They feel really protective and possessive. I'm sure its a physical hormonal thing. My MIL, long post menopausal, actually had a period a few weeks after my first was born. She was fully checked and told that this is quite common in first time grandmothers.

cheeseandpineapple Thu 11-Apr-13 12:07:48

Hey Eek, your MIL sounds pretty fussy, she should go with daddi ma, it's the correct term for paternal grandmother and not elderly, I think it literally means dad's mum!

is "burri ma" equivalent of "grandma" and a potential option?

Or will she think that's too elderly too?! She may like it or not but pretty much any term which describes a grandparent has connotations of advancing years, including "grandma"!

But as Bear says, whatever the tag, as far as your son goes, you're his mum, and the centre of his universe no matter what.

eekazombie Thu 11-Apr-13 21:12:37

Ooh barri ma is one I haven't suggested yet! Thanks for that!

Quietly, you're right. I can't have it both ways and let MIL choose then get offended! I guess I thought choosing her own nickname would help her feel more connected? Also I don't want her to have to put up with a name she hates. I think I'll use grandma in full and maybe DS will have his own version!

Interesting what you mentioned about the physical/emotional aspect. You're right, this is her son's son! What an amazing little miracle, of course she wants to protect him. I'll try and always keep that in the back of my mind.

mrslaughan Thu 11-Apr-13 21:21:27

My maternal grandmother was "ma" to all her grand children. Mum was always mum......
With my kids, they only called me ma, for a very short amount of time, before they could say mama, and then mummy and now mum.

I think the name is not really the issue, but the way she treats you..... Do you have to stay living with them? Maybe you just need some space?

Irishmammybread Thu 11-Apr-13 21:34:20

My MIL was Grandma until DS started talking and she became Ma, FIL was Grandpa and became Papa.
My parents are Nana and Grandad, I have an aunt who became a grandmother quite young and was always called Nan.
I'm Mum,though a lot of Irish mothers are Mammy.
My friends DC call their paternal grandmother Mama, once again their version of Grandma.
A name is just a name and wont affect your relationship with your child, he knows who you are and loves you!
Families are complicated though aren't they!

MIL wanted to be known as Mam when I had DD. It's a Welsh thing I think as DH's grandmothers were all called Mam. However, it was too close to Mum for me so DH was very good at discussing it with her. We went with Mamgu which is Welsh for grandma (or something along that line, I'm English!), and which I believe Mam is short for.

That worked for us, although we had a few slips at the beginning, DH and I always used Mamgu (in fact at any opportunity) to reinforce it smile

ShowOfHands Thu 11-Apr-13 22:37:27

My MIL always refers to the dc as 'our children'. DS is currently 'our baby' when she talks about him. And I LOVE it. He is our baby, he is the product of generations of love. He is my baby too and in a way that he isn't anybody else's but he will always be our baby, a little product of how our family has grown over the years.

I think it sometimes helps to remember that the ferocity with which you adore your ds right now, is the ferocity with which your MIL has always adored her own son and magnified by years of mothering. They are seeing their babies have babies and that's a massive thing for them. My dc are privileged to be so loved.

No to ma though. No no no.

My mil is mamgu too. grin

Benby Thu 11-Apr-13 22:48:51

My girls always said nana to both out parents their granddad's are passed away. Lately my dd 3.5 has taken to calling my mil by her surname for example nana Byrne and it drives her absolutely mental but its her own fault cause when dd used to say nana if she was busy ( smoking or drinking coffee ) she would not answer dd but if dd said nana Byrne she'd answer straight away.
My dd is not stupid and knows she gets attention when she does it but mil is blaming me and my mam for what dd is calling her. My 23 month old is also starting to pick up on it and it won't be long before she starts repeating it too. Should have some fun then.
I don't mind what the girls call their nanas but I draw the line at any version of mam. Your right to want something different.

My DD calls my Mum "Mam-maaaaa" - although to be fair she is trying to say Grandma. She still doesn't call me anything though! She knows I'm Mummy, if you ask her where Mummy is she points at me, but she does the same when asked to say Mummy.

She'll happily say "Daddeee" though. I think tell myself it's because I'm always there so she points because she knows where I am. Slightly annoying that she will also say "Henreee" - because that's the bloody dog's name! hmm

My MIL does the whole "my baby" thing, which grates royally, but I'm taking great pleasure consolation in teaching DD to pronounce MIL's preferred "Nanna" as "Nah-na" - as in "You daft (ba)nana". Simple, childish things but they keep me sane and make me chuckle to myself!

Incidentally LOVING the "Gandalf" idea - may have to give that a whirl as well, although we do regularly refer to DD as Gandalf the Grey when she's stomping around using DM's walking stick as a staff grin.

ApocalypseThen Fri 12-Apr-13 00:46:24

Tell her plainly that someone at work told you that older/ rural/ poor Irish people call their mothers Ma and that has totally put you off and that therefore you will be calling her (insert name that you and DH agree on)

Irish people? Horrific. I'm sure she'll see sense when alerted to this disturbing fact. Worse still, I hear young and urban Irish people do this too. You'd think they'd at least be more sophisticated...

VinegarDrinker Fri 12-Apr-13 06:58:09

Just to warn you as someone else said upthread, he may do his own thing anyway. My DS calls my in-laws Marmar and Papa (we call them Grandma and Grandpa!) stemming from not being able to pronounce them properly when he was starting to talk.

Sometimes random people used to think Marmar was mama/mummy but it was always clear to me/us who he meant.

Schnullerbacke Fri 12-Apr-13 08:40:42

I guess it depends in the context its used for. My half-Nepali kids call their grandparents Ma and Ba (and so do I) but its never been in this weird 'I'm also your Mummy' context. Not helpful but I think your MIL has issues.

You need to put your foot down on this as otherwise you might run the risk of things escalating and demands getting more unreasonable (who doesn't remember the threads about MILs wanting to take the kids away for a few days without their daughter-in-law present) etc. I had to learn this the hard way!

MummaBubba123 Sat 13-Apr-13 09:33:31

I can tell that you're very understanding and sensitive to your MIL's history and previous experiences. Does she live with you?
This can make it even more difficult.
In short, you've been a mummy for 6 months. She needs to become aware that you are the mummy - not only by name but in certain decisions, too! She needs to have the control gently and sensitive but CLEARLY set differently. If you refrain from broaching the subject of your own (quite understandable) discomfort with her chosen 'title', you're sue to encounter more further along. This one wont disappear and once your LO begins to call her / you 'Ma' (at first you won't know who he's referring to), you'll be so upset ... and it may quietly grate on you for years.
Even if you get over it, you'll need to establish the importance of her respecting your decisions and comfort at some point. I know it's hard and that you'll not want to rock the boat, but ... do it sooner rather than later.

MummaBubba123 Sat 13-Apr-13 09:34:29

Sure - not 'sue'

MummaBubba123 Sat 13-Apr-13 09:40:55

By the way, I'm not adverse to children calling grandparents names similar to Mummy. My own children call their grandmother 'Mamie'. But I chose that name. I felt comfortable with it. You're the mummy. You choose! Xxx

SoupDragon Sat 13-Apr-13 09:41:42

Don't babies start babbling with a babababa sound? If your DS does, laugh and say "If only you'd chosen that as your name...!"

chickensaladagain Sat 13-Apr-13 09:50:12

My mil referred to herself as mummy2 and I was horrified
We didn't live together but looked after dd1 4 days a week while I worked (we have lived together previously though)

I walked out of her house and straight into to local nursery to start looking at childcare! -eventually settled on a very good childminder

As soon as she stopped looking after dd so much it settled back into a grandparent/grandchild relationship

Dd has always known who mummy is though

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