Around Fathers Day, Man decided to give his daddy the best possible gift. He’d been babbling for months, but for the first time ever he looked into his father’s face and, with complete recognition, said, “Dada.” From that day forward every time my husband would walk through the door Man would call to his “Dada” while screaming with excitement.
Soon afterwards he also began to call our dog, Dixie, by name – it actually sounds a lot more like “Disi” – but it was definitely her name, and definitely intentional. “Disi!!!” he would call out throughout the day as he tried to get her to play with him (she continues to have little interest in his existence…unless he is eating, in which case Man is her favorite human). “Co-te” came next, that’s Cortez; he’s the bird. So basically we had “Dada”, “Disi”, and “Co-te, ” the whole family…. but no “Mama”. He didn’t even have an “m” sound.
This pissed me off, it pissed me off A LOT, especially when he would look at me during the day and say “dada”. “No my love, I’m mama—the one who carried you, bore you, and devotes her entire life to taking care of you.” I am a Speech Therapist by training so cognitively I understood that “mama” was much harder to pronounce than “dada” – but emotionally it still hurt. I mean I was the one who chased after him all day, every day.
That’s right, me, Mama, the one who tries to wipe your butt as you crawl away 20 times a day (because you poop more than any baby I know). The one who cooks your meals and then makes you something new after you have thrown your original dinner on the floor, or fed it to Disi. Mama, the one who rocks you back to sleep three or four times in the middle of the night when you are teething? Yeah, you heard me, MAMA.
I started to develop a complex; I even began to convince myself that he had little interest in me personally. That I was merely his waitress – a woman who happened to be at his beck and call but required no emotional attachment. (There was one silver lining to this – Man would often call for “dada” from his crib in the morning. This was especially helpful on weekends at 6:30AM: “Honey, he’s calling for you, go get him while I stay here and sleep!!”)
And then this morning, out of nowhere, he called me Mama and my heart melted.