Small words, no more than 6 letters spread over 2 syllables. But the concept is huge. As I've mentioned, my mother- by that I mean the woman who gave birth to me- left when I was 2. I had a mother figure in my paternal grandmother. My dad and I lived with her and my step-grandfather for a couple of years after the divorce. Later, I had a stepmother for a few years. Even though I did call her mom for a while, I never really had one.
Sometimes family members would slip and refer to my grandmother as my mom. I always corrected them that she was my grandmother. Frankly, being confused with the woman who gave birth to me is an insult, but even separate from that, it simply wasn't to be. I didn't have a mother and no amount of pretending would change that.
The word has more power in my life that I even recognized for a long time. I'm a member of a number of a number of message boards, many of which are parenting based. That means a lot of user names in the vein of "MommyToTwelve" or "BufordsMom". I never, ever shorten those names to "mom." They might get to referred to as "Buford's" or "Twelve" but never do I use the word mom except when I actually mean mother. I would be a better Christian if I only used the Lord's name in vain as often as I do the name "mom."
When we began our quest to have a baby, I daydreamed about the day that our child would call me momma. I thought about being greeted with a cheerful "MOMMA!" and even about the the plaintiff wail of "maaaaaaaaaammaaa" after a skinned knee or bumped head. There was a night in the PICU where I could hear a child crying for his mom. My heart broke that, while his mother was there, she couldn't fix whatever had landed him in the PICU. But still, I thought about the day that Robbie would call me mommy.
When he started babbling, one of the first consonants he said was m. I knew it didn't mean anything, but hearing it still filled me with joy. And then he learned how to make the d sound. Since then, everything has a d. Kitty is "Diddy." Thank you is "Dah ooh." Recently he started really saying dada. Then he started greeting David "hi dadda!" It's as sweet as it could ever be, but I also was a little jealous.
David's been great about it, of course. He encourages him to say mama repeatedly. He asks Robbie where mommy is and Robbie dutifully toddles over and pats my leg proudly. Robbie escorted me to the chiropractor earlier this week and the doctor asked Robbie where I was and Robbie came over and poked me in the neck. He knows I'm his mommy, he just can't say it yet.
It strikes me as a little funny now. I avoid the word like the plague for most of my life, focusing so much on the meaning. And here is Robbie, clearly understanding the meaning, but still we don't have the word. It's a little Karmic, I must say.
Over the weekend, I was pretty sure he was starting to call me dadda, too. Then I decided it was just babble. I was just looking for more meaning in random sounds. I shook it off and reminded myself that he'd say it when he was ready.
The last two nights, Robbie's been in bed before I got home from work (This shift sucks.) Last night when I got home, though, I could hear him babbling softly to himself, still awake like the naughty imp that he is. I snuck in and gave him a kiss, retucked him and wished him sweet dreams. Tonight, however, when I got home, he was very quiet. David said he thought Robbie was asleep, so I crept stealthily towards his room and gently pushed the door open. Immediately I saw a little arm moving far too animatedly for a sleeping boy.
I said aloud "Nope. He's up." and flipped on the dim lamp in his room.
The moment Robbie heard my voice, he sat straight up and beamed. He clamored to stand and reach for me. With his voice full of cheer & surprise, he shouted "HI DADDA!"
What could I do but laugh? Maybe mommy isn't such a great word after all.
--Trish (Dadda #2.)