My mother is elderly and her memories sometimes fail her. On my mom's good days, I call her "Mootie", a pet name from my childhood. This is a derivation of the German word for mother, 'muter'. On days when I really need her to be my mom, I call her "Mommy". On her bad days, when she talks to me as though I were someone she has strong negative feelings towards, I call her "Shirley", her name. These names I give my mother are not because of her changing moods, but to protect myself; if she thinks I am someone other than her daughter, I do not want to confuse her by calling her Mom. There are times she seems to need to vent her rage from her past, and if she thinks of me as one of those people who hurt her, then I think it is good for her to vent—as long as she is not just dumping on me, her daughter. So rather than a punishment, I call her her name for clarification, and I no longer try to correct her.
She's been dead for almost 10 years, so I don't call her much of anything---but I do salute her with a glass of ice water every Mother's Day, because I hear people where she is want it.
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