I answer to many names: Rachel, Rach, Mom, Mommy, Love, Sweetie, Friend, Hon and even Hey You. There is one name however that I can’t seem to wrap my head around. You would think I would be used to this name, as it’s technically been mine for nearly two decades. It’s Mrs. Lesser, and it sounds more like the name for a cartoon character version of myself than the actual person that I am.
I officially became Mrs. Lesser when I got married at the ripe old age of 25. I wanted to have the same last name as my husband and also the same last name as my then imaginary children. I felt like each member of my family should be on the same team, and if one day we got t-shirts with our last names on the back of them and wore them together, that they would match. Note: we have never bought those t-shirts, and I doubt we would wear them at the same time if we ever did.
It took the first few years of my marriage for me to get used to people calling me Rachel Lesser and not by my maiden name, Rachel Levy. I still have many friends from growing up and from college who call me by my maiden name, and so too many friends of my parents. That’s okay with me. I take pride in being known as the Levy’s daughter. Of course I take great pride in being known as my kids’ mom. That’s actually another name I would answer to.
But at my kids’ school, that’s not what they call me. They call me Mrs. Lesser — all the time. The first time I emailed one of my kids’ teachers to ask her about visiting the class as the mystery reader, she wrote back to me with the following salutation:
“Dear Mrs. Lesser,” Did she not notice that I signed my email to her as “Rachel”? And did she also not notice that she is almost a full generation older than I am? I wrote her back to confirm my school visit — again signing off as me, “Rachel.” And again she wrote me back addressing the cartoon character version of me: “Dear Mrs. Lesser,” I felt like I was becoming pen pals with Mr. Short Term Memory.
Most of my kids’ good friends call me Rachel. I have trained them to do so. But there are a bunch of them that call me Mrs. Lesser. They have been instructed by their parents to use my cartoon character name as a sign of respect. I get that — completely. I’ve introduced my own kids to many adults using the Mr./Mrs./Dr. title. Those titles are for there for a reason. They are in fact signs of respect. They create boundaries, a society for us to live in — one that is not an anarchy.
And then it dawned on me, Mrs. Lesser is just a title — and kind of a made up one at that. Mrs. Lesser seems just as ill fitting to me as if someone addressed me as Your Majesty Her Royal Highness, Madam Secretary or Dr. Rosen Rosen.
I have since learned to embrace this made up title. I even sometimes sign my emails to teachers using my official “Mrs. Lesser” title, giggling to myself as I type away. I also bust out in a big smile when I run into my kids’ friends around town and they greet me with my title.
“Hello, Mrs. Lesser,” they say. I’m half expecting them to tell me how lovely I am looking a la Eddie Haskell to Mrs. Cleaver.
That’s me “Mrs. Lesser” — the cartoon character mom coach for Team Lesser. It’s a good job. It’s a good title. I’ll take it.