Oh to be someone’s “mama”

About two weeks ago something awful happened: My not-yet-two-year-old started calling me "Mommy." And for short? "MA!"

After being called "Mama" since she was, oh, five months old … being called "Mommy" was an unwelcome change. It sounds too grown up. It sounds too formal. IT IS NOT MY NAME.

In the morning instead of hearing a sleepy "Moommma" from around a pacifier, it was "MAAAAAHMEEE!" Instead of hearing Syd's two favorite questions: "Mama, show?" (watch Sesame Street) or "Mama, cooler?" (color), it was "Mommy? Show?" or "MA! Cooler?" This is something teenagers say, right? Like, "Hey Ma, toss me a root beer will ya?" and "Mommy"? This is for elementary school kids. Not toddlers who are still in diapers. Who wind their baby fingers through your hair as you rock them to sleep at night. NO NO NO.

I reluctantly accepted my new name. I decided that whatever my daughter called me was fine, so long as it wasn't "Manda" (I'm sure one day she will try and call me that). Whatever she calls me, I'm her mother. As many times as I said "no, I'm MAMA!" her reply would just be a sly smile and the response "MOMMY!" So I let it go. Our names were now Mommy and Daddy. That's ok. I wrote it above a drawing of stick figures of our family as we sat at her picnic table one morning and pointed and listed all our people and dogs. Not so bad.

And then a few days ago my Sydney woke up with a stuffy nose and a little cough. Her forehead warm in my hands as she clung to me, her flushed cheek pressed into my shoulder. When it was time for Daddy to have a turn she just clung tighter and whispered into my ear, "Mama."

My heart fluttered at the sound of my old name. I wondered if it would stick.

And all that day it did. I was "Mama" once more. I reveled in what I assumed was a temporary reversion for comfort's sake.

And then the next morning? I heard the sweet sound "Mooommmma?" calling to me from my daughter's room.

And the next day? Again.

For however long, I'm "Mama" again (but if I'm honest? I hope I'm "Mama" FOREVER). What a sweet sound to hear my baby girl, my firstborn, murmur those two insignificant little syllables. Like the smell of her soft baby hair, or her sweet sloppy kisses, or the feel of her tiny hand in mine … I will soak it up as long as I can.

Oh to be someone's mama. Her mama.

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4 thoughts on “Oh to be someone’s “mama”

  1. Elsha says:

    Whenever I read “Mommy Mine” to Kalena I substitute Mama for Mommy, just to encourage her to continue calling me that.

  2. Cara says:

    I too love the name “mama” but when my three year old turned two she started just calling me “mom.” It was heartbreaking in a way that probably shouldn’t feel heartbreaking but does nonetheless. But that’s just how she rolls.

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