Hi, I’m Norman and Marvin’s Mum. Nice to meet you! What’s that, you think I have an actual name? No no, my name is Norman and Marvin’s Mum! I do have a surname, but we don’t use it as there are no other Normans or Marvins at school so there’s really no need to. I did used to have a name of my own, but it got lost along with all of the other parents’ names!
I’ve had my name for over 35 years now. It’s taken a few different forms – I was named after my Grandma, and the beauty of my (original) name is that it can be shortened to various other names. I changed the last little bit of it when Mrs S and I got married. I kept my middle name a secret throughout high school as I didn’t like it, and Mrs S still can’t actually say it without adding another syllable on the end. But generally speaking, my name has served me well – I know when people are talking to me, or about me for that matter, and that’s really the point.
I didn’t mean to change it, in fact I didn’t really realise I had, until I noticed that the majority of other grown ups that I speak to now have similar names to my new name, and only really refer to me as my new name. Mrs S and I changed our names at the same time, one drizzly day last February, to exactly the same thing: Norman and Marvin’s Mum.
Some days it feels as though parenthood makes you lose a chunk of yourself – interestingly, the same chunk that previously contained your sanity and your sense of reason and perspective. Other days you realise that you gave that chunk willingly, wholeheartedly, and that despite everything, even if you knew all that you know now, you would still do it again in a flash.
I expect that for people who give birth to their children, the thought that you might have taken a different path or made a different choice is overwhelming, because your child wouldn’t exist without that choice. For me though, the thought that we might have chosen a different path is overwhelming too. Where would Norman and Marvin be? There was an advert a while ago about adoption, funnily enough around the time we were matched to the boys, that said that the four main categories that made children “difficult to adopt” were if they were in sibling groups, if they were boys, if they were over three and if they were from a different ethnic background to the pool of available adopters. I’ve never really been one for getting 100% in things, but our beautiful boys fit into all four of those categories – bingo! The truth is that that carries a weight of responsibility. If we hadn’t been matched up when we were, I suspect they’d have gone into long term foster care, been passed from pillar to post, who knows. It just doesn’t bear thinking about.
Despite all of the recent difficulties, I see such potential in them. Norman is great at sports; he loves music and picks up tunes and song lyrics really quickly; he’s an excellent dancer and, when he wants to, he really knows how to turn on the charm! Marvin picks up expressions and knows how to wind you up in a funny way; he loves to teach me whichever nursery rhymes he has learned at school that day and corrects me if I don’t get the actions right; he’s fearless and great at swimming. They both love to cook and bake, and although they fall out and fight at times, they are fiercely defensive of one another – you just have to see the bruises on Grandma C’s leg from where Norman kicked her for saying Marvin was naughty!
As it turns out, I quite like my new name!