Last week, our family had major cause for celebration. Ok, maybe it was just ME celebrating, but my husband was genuinely supportive in his enthusiasm. And Emmy seemed amused at the sight of me jumping up and down.
The cause for all this merriment? After close to sixteen months of waiting, I finally heard my little girl call me “mama”.
Are you like me? Did your child learn how to say “Dada”, “ball”, “no”, “thank you”, “please”, “bubble”, “apple”, “up”, “Elmo”, “cow”, “this”, “uh-oh” and “unintentional disregard for she who changes my diaper every morning and night” (ok. not really.) before he/she spoke the one word you’ve been waiting anxiously since their birth to hear?
Then you know my previous pain, and the utter joy I feel now. For months on end, I have had to share the nickname “Baba” with my mother-in-law. I LOVE my mother-in-law. She watches Emmy three days a week (and more when Em is sick), is our “go-to” babysitter for date nights, has been my confidante on several occasions, and is generally incredibly generous with her time and love. But as much as I love “Baba”, I really haven’t loved having to share her identity.
I have had the following conversation with Em on many occasions:
“Emmy, who is this?” (pointing at my husband)
“Emmy, who is this?” (pointing at Elmo)
“Emmy, who is this?” (nervously pointing at myself)
“Actually, it’s Mama, Emmy. Can you say ‘Mama’?”
“Can you say ‘Mama’, Em?”
“No. No! Babaaaa!”
It’s actually been quite funny, but in one of those ha-ha-hilarious-yet-soul-crushing kind of ways. I know it sounds a little silly, but my daughter’s refusal to say “mama” made me doubt my aptitude as a mother, and I started to question the cause. Was it because I was a working mommy, and couldn’t spend every waking moment with Emmy? Was this Em’s passive aggressive way of telling me I needed to show her even more love than I already do (hard to imagine this would be possible)? I knew in my MIND that Emmy’s language was developing beautifully, and that she meant no personal offense in choosing to say other words first, but my heart really REALLY just wanted to get confirmation. I needed to know I was “mama”.
And then, this past Friday morning, as I was changing Emmy’s diaper, she did it. In a small voice, barely audible, she gave me the greatest gift wrapped up in two little syllables. With a knowing smile, my daughter gave me my mama-name.
If you are a mommy who has yet to hear your child say YOUR mama name, keep the dream alive. As I’ve learned, all the built up anticipation and agony you’ve been experiencing just makes the moment you hear your child say your name that much better.