Shop the fall collection ➔

When their third grade teacher commented on how sweet she thought it was that my kids still called my husband and me “Daddy” and “Mommy” I took note. When several fourth grade teachers noted it a year later, I took note again. Our kids will turn 11-years-old this summer, and still they call me “Mommy” or “Mama” and my husband “Daddy”. 

I can only say it delights me.

I distinctly remember when a friend of mine, another triplet mom whose kids are two years older than mine, told me to prepare for the switch from “Mommy” to “Mom”. Her kids were five-years-old and I was shocked that preschoolers might have already stopped using the name a new mom rejoices to hear. I was even more shocked the mom had allowed it.

At age four, my kids started preschool. Those first weeks were full of conversations about transitions—how to adjust to new schedules, new routines, and new influences. I gathered my little ducklings around me in a huddle early in the year and kneeled down so we were face-to-face. I looked each of them in the eye so they knew this was important. Then I shared with them wisdom about the ways of the preschool world.

“Kiddos, when you go to school, you’re going to find out that some families don’t do things the way we do them in our home.”

Three pairs of eyes looked at me questioningly as my adoring girls and their sweet brother hung on every word. Could they even possibly imagine what such a statement might mean? What other way was there to do things, besides how we did them in our home?

“You may have already heard some of your classmates. When some of them talk to their parents, they call them ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ not ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’.”

Three heads nodded slowly in assent. Yes, this was in fact what they had seen. It was beginning to sink in.

“In our family, Daddy and I still want you to call us ‘Daddy’ and ‘Mommy’. You guys aren’t old enough for ‘Dad’ and ‘Mom’. Those are names to be used by older kids—a long time from now, for you.”

“Okay, Mommy,” echoed three times, a harmony in my ears, and that was that. My kids were prepared.

And to this day, they have dutifully stayed the course. My husband and I are “Daddy” and “Mommy” and it is a joy, still, to hear those precious monikers. Sometimes I’m “Mama” which I find equally endearing, but even now, no longer with any prompting from me, I can tell that only “Mommy” and “Daddy” seem right. When one of our kids has a slip of the tongue and only “Mom” or “Dad” slips out, there is a noted silence, almost an unspoken awkwardness in the air. The names don’t seem quite right—not yet. Our kids mostly refer to us as “my mom” and “my dad” when they talk with their friends or classmates, but by name, we are not yet there.

It is remarkably special to me to have maintained these precious names over the years. It reminds me there is much to a name and that echoes of the quality and kind of our relationships can be found in how we address one another. I take delight in calling my kids by pet names or family nicknames. Similarly, “Mommy” and “Daddy” suggest an intimacy and indeed a certain child-likeness we have strived to preserve in our kids. 

They are navigating childhood in a rapidly changing world. Conversations once reserved for adult ears only are now blasted across cable channels, marketed to children, and taught in schools. How sweet it is to me that while the rest of fourth grade has long since grown up beyond the childlike dependency on parents that “Mommy” and “Daddy” imply, our kids remain solidly rooted, in fact and in name, in the childhood that is still theirs for the time being.

I know we will not be “Mommy” and “Daddy” forever. In fact, at times now, the names sound striking even to me, coming from the mouths of kids old enough to cook scrambled eggs or walk unsupervised to the park. I do not wish to keep my kids unnecessarily young. But in a cultural moment that encourages kids to grow up so quickly, I feel blessed that my older children feel comfortable using these names that no one else has ever been allowed to use. I know “Mommy” will one day disappear. I hope the intimacy it points to never does.

Carrington Cunnington

Carrington Cunnington is a PCI Certified Parent Coach®, blogger, and speaker who adores her own familly so much she decided to make a career of helping other parents thrive in their family life too. She and her husband Garrett have two daughters and one son—10-year-old triplets—and loves spending her time marveling at all they have to teach her. She also loves the outdoors, playing with her dog, and snuggling up with a good book.

Our Friend Steve Is Back! Get Ready for the “Blue’s Clues” Live-Action Movie

In: Kids, Living
man in a trench coat and green tie looking out door

We just got a letter, we just got a letter! Except this time, it’s even better! ’90s kids rejoice, because one of our favorite classic Nickelodeon series, Blue’s Clues, is getting a live-action makeover. Not only that, but it will also feature all three of the show’s hosts, which means our beloved Steve Burns will be returning to the screen after all this time! You may remember, Steve popping back into our lives unexpectedly last year for the 25th anniversary of the show to explain why he had departed so suddenly. He hit us all in the feels when he...

Keep Reading

Dear School Bus Driver, My Whole World Is In Your Care

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing on school bus stairs, color photo

To the bus driver I do not know, You don’t understand how hard it is to let go of my child’s hand in the morning and hand him over to you. You don’t know how long it took me to make this decision . . . to let him ride the bus.  Some may say it’s brave or courageous to trust another with your child’s life. I sometimes think it can be daring but also really unwise.  RELATED: Every Time I Leave My Child With Autism in the Care of Someone Else, I Worry In today’s world, we must worry...

Keep Reading

Every Time I Blinked, They Grew—and It Was So Beautiful

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boys kissing mother black and white photo

I thought we were prepared, but we weren’t. Not even close. Not in the tiniest, least little bit. When we hugged our precious, oldest boy and left him to start college just a few hours away, we didn’t know what was coming. The waves of emotion, of loss, of pride, of accomplishment. They say not to blink because your kids will grow up. But despite how much we may not want to, it’s involuntary. We have to blink. They don’t talk about this part. No one tells you what to do when you open your eyes again. RELATED: I Blinked and...

Keep Reading

I Love it When You Smile at Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little girl in wheel chair with classmates, color photo

I gained a bit of insight today. We were walking past the checkout at the store this afternoon when we came upon a mom and her children, waiting in the checkout line.   RELATED: A Simple Invitation Means the World To a Special Needs Parent My daughter Chloe rolled by them in her wheelchair. I watched, as I often do, as the children noticed her. One girl about Chloe’s age smiled at her as we walked by. As soon as we had passed them, Chloe turned to me and said . . . “She’s the first person to smile at me!”  Let me say I...

Keep Reading

It’s Okay to Say No to the Promposal

In: Kids, Teen
Boy holding pink sign saying "Prom with me?"

Promposals are cute.  But, even for the sweetest questions, it’s okay if the answer is not yes. I have more boys than girls at my house so the whole meet the boy asking your girl out with a gun posts don’t sit well with me. Boys and girls have an equally hard time negotiating friendships and relationships in high school, and I care equally for both. A young man spent some time, told his friends, made a cute sign, and planned to ask my daughter to a dance. A friend of my daughters mentioned he might ask (and even made...

Keep Reading

I Wipe the Slides

In: Kids, Motherhood
boy on slide

I want you to have the most fun possible at your tiny playground stars program, so I wipe the slides. I don’t want you to have a meltdown if your clothes get wet while I’m gone, so I wipe the slides. I want to have three precious hours of only managing your little sister, so I wipe the slides. RELATED: I’d Rather Serve My Kids Than Have Them be “Self-Sufficient” I don’t want you to feel embarrassed by a big reaction to wet clothes when I’m not there to help you, so I wipe the slides. I want you to...

Keep Reading

One Day You’ll Outgrow Being My Little Boy—But Not Today

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and two sons back-to-school picture, color photo

One day you will come home after your first day of a new school year and not wish to share a single thing. Not today. Today, you got into the car and talked non-stop about every second of your day. I was delighted!  One day you will not have countless first-day forms for me to sign and return the next day. Not today. I signed my name at least four times. I was happy to grant permission for you to play sports, learn algebra, and do whatever else I gave my permission for.  One day you will not allow me...

Keep Reading

The Sports Mom Shows Up For Her Kids, No Matter What

In: Kids, Motherhood
Youth baseball game

We’re nearing the end of club baseball/softball season, and the burnout is real. The time away from home, burning through gas to get somewhere for two hours with half your house packed only to pack back up and turn around and drive to the next two-hour destination is insane. I don’t even like the sport right now. There . . . I said it. I’m so sick of softball fields and wind-blown dirt in my face. I’ve seen so many balls thrown in the last two months that my eyes hurt. But I still show up. I love to see...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

3 Common Phrases to Avoid Saying to Your Kids (and What To Say Instead)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with young boy on couch

Learning to love yourself is hard work. I did not grow up loving myself. Instead, I always felt inadequate, and I felt the need to change myself to prove my worth.  I want more for my kids. I want my kids to know their inherent value and worth. I want to empower my kids to love and accept themselves.  My self-love journey, aided by the expertise of a counselor, has helped me realize there are some narratives from my childhood I needed to unlearn. I had to accept my emotions as helpful and not something to be pushed down. I...

Keep Reading