“Craaaaig,” I called up the stairs to my husband. “I need you.”
He joined me downstairs to tag-team the post-vomit cleanup. He washed our son and changed pajamas. I tackled the bedding. We took turns cuddling Owen back to sleep.
My mouth dropped. This is not a good thing for a husband to tell a wife.
“You only use my name when you’re yelling at me,” he explained, or to enlist him in an unpleasant parenting task.
It’s true. The rest of the time, to me, he’s a term of endearment, like “Sweetie.”
Back in college and the prehistoric age of landlines, I’d call the large apartment Craig shared with his fraternity brothers. Whoever answered would teasingly summon him to the phone by saying “Honey, it’s Dear.”
When we became parents nearly six years ago I started calling him a new name: Daddy.And I became Mommy, not just to our children. I pondered this as I lay awake, digesting Craig’s revelation. Many couples with kids call each other Mom and Dad. My parents, married 53 years, have as long as I remember, and still do, even though we kids have been out of the house for many years. Craig, whose parents are divorced, thinks it’s cute.
But names are central to our identity. Dale Carnegie said the sweetest sound to a person is his or her own name.
I vowed to change it. The next morning, eating a quick breakfast at the kitchen table, I called down to the landing where he put on his coat.
He responded with a pained groan, a verbal grimace to the screeching chalkboard.
“I love you,” I said.