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

47 replies

eekazombie · 11/04/2013 10:20

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?

OP posts:

HappyDogRedDogToss · 11/04/2013 10:38

So what do you refer to yourself as to DS?


MrsRajeshKoothrappali · 11/04/2013 10:38

'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 · 11/04/2013 10:41

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

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


innermuddle · 11/04/2013 10:43

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 · 11/04/2013 10:43

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 · 11/04/2013 10:55

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 · 11/04/2013 10:58

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 · 11/04/2013 10:58

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.

OP posts:

GhoulWithADragonTattoo · 11/04/2013 10:59

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 · 11/04/2013 11:02

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!

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chocolatetester1 · 11/04/2013 11:04

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 · 11/04/2013 11:06

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 · 11/04/2013 11:06

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

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ConferencePear · 11/04/2013 11:07

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


eekazombie · 11/04/2013 11:09

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?

OP posts:

Doodledumdums · 11/04/2013 11:11

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 · 11/04/2013 11:11

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

OP posts:

eekazombie · 11/04/2013 11:13

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.

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eekazombie · 11/04/2013 11:14

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

OP posts:

Beamae · 11/04/2013 11:16

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 · 11/04/2013 11:21

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RayofSun · 11/04/2013 11:23

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 · 11/04/2013 11:27

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!

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eekazombie · 11/04/2013 11:31

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!

OP posts:

eekazombie · 11/04/2013 11:32

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

OP posts:
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