Mom, Mommy, Aunt… Is it the name that really matters?


This Mother’s Day I was quickly reminded that my boys are watching my actions, they hear my words, and most importantly they remember how I make them feel.

Sunday, May 12, 2019 I officially celebrated my second Mother’s Day with my little family. I thank God daily for the gift of being a mom and I do not take it lightly thatHe chose us for our boys. I will say that the title of being a mom is sometimes hard to process and understand especially since I did not become a mom in the traditional way.  I know that may sound strange to some people, but honestly, it has simply taken me a while to feel like I have permission to celebrate being their mom.

The reality is my boys, Lincoln and Jackson, literally made me a mom overnight and I have no doubt that God was and is in all of those details. Some of you may already know our background story, but I will share again that both of our boys once referred to me as “Aunt Halley” because I was their biological aunt before I become their adopted mom. You can read more about our adoption story here.

One of the most treasured gifts I received from my boys this Mother’s Day were two adorable Mother’s Day questionnaires that my husband had the boys complete for me. I have one of those questionnaire from when Jackson was in Kindergarten last year and and I absolutely cherish that precious note and drawing (see below).  

Now that I’m homeschooling Jackson we do not have notes like this that come home from school and I never received one from Lincoln because he was older when he came to live with us.  If you are a mom you know how special these little gifts are to our hearts.

I love that my husband took the time to do questionnaire notes with the boys this year. The response to those questions about me as their mom showed me and reminded me that my boys see and remember my actions and they hear my words (most of them;)). Most importantly, their responses showed me that they remember how my actions and words make them feel.

I want to provide a little background story before sharing more about the Mother’s Day Questionnaire. When we were getting closer to the boys adoption day we started sharing with them more about what adoption means. We told them that  we will officially be their mom and dad through adoption and that they will never have to leave our house again.  The security a child feels when they know that they are safe in their forever home can initiate a roller coaster of challenges. We experienced that roller coaster while at the same time we witnessed a sense of relief in their heart that showed in their eyes. 

When walking through the adoption process we were intentional in respecting their story and their history. When going through an adoption process like ours we had a lot of questions from our boys about what they would call us after they are adopted since we had always been referred to as “Aunt Halley” and “Uncle Paul”.  We told both boys that we will forever be their mommy and daddy but that they can choose to call us whatever is most comfortable for them.

The response to what they would call us was completely different from each other. Jackson was 5 and Lincoln was 9 and Jackson was ready for us to fully be his mommy and daddy. We were honored happy to take that name for him. Our oldest Lincoln was not quite comfortable with calling us mom and dad so he told us he would like to keep calling us Aunt Halley and Uncle Paul.  Of course, we were completely okay with his decision. To be honest, at first I was a little sad because I wanted him to feel secure in knowing we are forever his mom and dad, but over time I realized that the name is not what matters most.

I can tell you that many people in our lives did not and still do not understand how our boys can refer to us in different ways. You would not believe the questions we have been asked about this or the looks we get in public. We just tell them is is perfectly okay with us and we respect their preferences. This may also change over time, but regardless, it is our job to respect their decision and respect the story that led them to us in the first place.  

Now that brings me back to the notes that the boys wrote me for Mother’s Day.  If you are a foster mom, adopted mom, or a mom who has guardianship of your nephews or grandchildren for a period of time; take heart and know that it does not matter what they decide to call you.  I think in society we get caught up in the title and sometimes forget what that title actually means. 

Below is Jackson’s responses to the Mother’s Day Questionnaire, “Facts About My Mom”:

My mom’s favorite thing to do is “hang out with me”. I love it when my mom “is with me”. The one thing I hear my mom say a lot is “I’m a good kid”.  The funny thing about the good kid response is I am very intentional in telling him he has a loving heart, he is kind, I love the way he thinks, I love how he treats his friends, he is a hard worker; and from all of that he knows I think he is a good kid.  Wow! Those answers spoke volumes to me as a mom.

What matters most when becoming a mom is our actions and how our actions make our children feel.  It does not mean we have to be a perfect mom 24/7, but it does mean that we recognize when we get it wrong and do our best to get it right the next time. When we have challenges with our children and there is a rupture in the relationship, we must take the time to repair the relationship. This role of being a mom is about connection and building a secure relationship with our children in order to help them grow into a secure and confident adult. It takes time especially when their life history has been difficult, but it is worth it if we stay the course and continue working towards fostering a secure attachment.  

Below is Lincoln’s responses to the Mother’s Day Questionnaire, “Facts About My Mom”:

My mom’s favorite thing to do is “spend time with family”. I love it when my mom “supports me”. I know my mom loves me because “there would be no reason for her not”. You are so right, Lincoln! I love you through and through! My favorite thing to do with my mom is “hangout”. I love the tween language “hangout”. The one thing my mom says a lot is “we stick together like glue”. Yes! We are family and we stick together no matter what. The last one really got me. I love my mom because “I am her son”. That is exactly right! My Lincoln may choose to call me “Aunt Halley”, but he knows that he is my son.

If I am defined by the name they call me, I am missing the point of what being a mom truly means. When I received these notes and read Lincoln and Jackson’s responses to the questions about me as their mom, I was a reminded that the name they choose to call me is not what matters.  They know I’m their mom by my actions, my words, and how those words and actions make them feel.   Mom, Mommy, Aunt Halley… Is it the name that really matters? No, it’s not about the name they call me; It’s about what I do to show my boys they are fearfully and wonderfully made and they are chosen and loved for the rest of their lives.

Being a mom is not always easy and it is most definitely about my boys and doing what I need to do in order to help them lead successful lives as they grow up.  If you are a mom who is called by a different name because of your child’s own story, take heart and know that you are a mom regardless of what they call you. Your actions and words and how you treat your child is what defines you as a mom… not the name they call you.


2 responses to “Mom, Mommy, Aunt… Is it the name that really matters?”

  1. Carol Sollars Avatar
    Carol Sollars

    Oh, how I loved this, Halley! I celebrate this very special connection you have forged with your sons, and I know that this was God’s plan from the beginning. YOU are a treasure, and your sons will always cherish you.❤️❤️❤️❤️


    1. Oh sweet friend! Thank you for this! Thank you for taking the time to read it. I hope and pray that God continues to grow my relationship with my boys and restore time that I lost spending so much time working their first few years with us. I have no doubt that God is in all of the details. Thank you! Love you dearly! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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