memorial day weekend epiphany on labels!

Photo by Burak K from Pexels

Labels are such an annoying little fact of life.

Some days, it feels like no label means anything.  “Everyone” says labels merely mean what a person wishes the word to mean.  Which means many are diluted the the point of vaguely lemon tasting lemonade.  Sounds tasty, no?

I’m funny in that I believe the purpose of a label is communication to OTHERS, not a way to validate oneself. I’m polyamorous because it’s obvious to anyone who meets me. Not because I need that word to understand myself.  And, well, it means something to me.

Perhaps it shouldn’t, but if it didn’t, I wouldn’t use it.  And this idea that poly can refer to anything not strictly monogamous?  I guess that works for some, but ignores a plethora of manifestations of non monogamy.  Not monogamy != polyamory.

Or worse, in my opinion, when someone picks up the label because it’s become trendy (did you know there are actually monogamous meetups now in certain areas where polyamory has become the default? How crazy news is that for us non mono/poly folk who struggle to make contact with the <5% of the general population who will even CONSIDER us for a partner?)

Sometimes, I wish I had the perfect label(s) for myself.

Especially when it came to my partner’s kids. What could possibly communicate the right ideas to them about the relationship between the kids and I?

I’d just been calling them “my partner’s kids” and I hated it.  So distant and impersonal for children I love as my own (and have told them this).  They are family to me, more than family, when I think about it.  I like my cousin’s kids, but I am not particularly close to my nieces and nephews.  I couldn’t tell you- right now- all their names, ages, and birthdays.  I just…am not that close to most of my religious, conservative family.

So, one day, I’m at the pool with my youngest– and it comes to me.

They aren’t, for what it’s worth, the only kids with whom I’ve grown close.  I helped raise our family friends’ twins.  Not to mention that two of my current partners have kids. I have never met my play partner’s kids.  Nor is that something that will likely ever happen.  But these kids are my family.  And I wanted…a word to call them.

Almost ten years.  I’ve known them nearly their whole lives; in the case of the youngest, for her whole life.  We have traditions we’ve created together. And yet I couldn’t think of a better term than “my partner’s kids.”

I could just say I’m their stepmom and they are my stepkids.  Except I don’t want that to be our primary relationship.  Sure, I’m basically their stepmom, but so much more than that…

And then, she says, “Can I call you my friendmom?”

We had a long weekend together, because of Memorial Day weekend.  Even got a whole day just with the middle child.  A rare treat.  We got tons of pie and looked at the trains at the end of the line (like we used to do when he was very little).

So then she says this, and I’m like, “I love it!  But I think it’s weird to call you my frienddaughter.”  She agreed.  We talk and try out a few words and then find the perfect one,

“What about munchkins or minions?”

I liked munchkins best. At first she objected. “Munchkins are donut holes! I’m not a donut hole!” But eventually she came round and said as long as I called her by her own name, and only referred to her and her siblings as ‘munchkins’ to others, that was okay.  At least until we thought of something better (and she’s been scrunching up her face about this problem every time I see her for months now).

So now they are my munchkins, and if I refer to them later, you’ll know who I’m talking about.

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