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Kevin Noble Maillard in NYT: "When Being a Good ‘Dad’ Gets You Promoted to ‘Mommy’"

Posted on Friday 7/27/2018
Kevin Noble Maillard

When Being a Good ‘Dad’ Gets You Promoted to ‘Mommy’

(The New York Times | July 27, 2018) I’m a sucker for dramatic homecomings. I love stories of reunited siblings and I devour videos of dogs greeting returning soldiers, but I participate in my own reunion spectacle every weekday. When I pick up my 3-year-old from preschool, she charges at me like I’m an unattended bowl of Cheddar Goldfish. It’s the best feeling to witness her happiness upon seeing me. From across the room, she olympically hurdles, jumps and pole vaults into the pillow of my outstretched arms.

“Mommy!” she squeals, horseshoeing her tiny arms around my neck, before she quells the emotion with a demand for food. “Mommy, you have snack?”  My partner, “Mamma,” who is female, is not there. When our daughter says “Mommy,” she’s talking to me — her father.  

When my partner heard about this, she laughed. Neither one of us corrected our daughter. We assumed it was part of language development. Then she went all in, announcing that she has two mommies, to the amusement of the lesbian parents at school.

I’m a professor of family law, so it’s my job to analyze these types of occurrences as part of some larger issue. Academia is a discursive enterprise. In this case, I’m intrigued by children’s selection of names for their parents, and what it possibly signifies ...

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