We’ve been working on speech with our son, who has a remarkable (and sometimes disturbing) capability for receptive language but has been a bit lazy with his expression. My pediatrician said that it can happen with parents who are really in tune with their children’s needs. I think maybe he was trying to make me feel better about Finn being a little bit behind, but I appreciated his effort. We’ve been working on naming body parts, learning people’s names, animal noises, and other assorted phrases (such as “milk please” rather than shrieking and gesturing in the direction of the sippy cup).
He has said “Dada” for a long time, using it as a generic term for parent and sometimes grandparent. He has recently rediscovered “Mama” and much to my delight has been shouting my name with glee every time he sees me. We’ve been trying to get him to say each of our names by asking “Where’s Daddy? Where’s Mama? Where’s Finny?” and in each of those cases, he can point to the right person including himself. When asked “What’s my name?” he can identify Daddy, and can identify Mama. And when asked what his name is, he replies “Mama”. No matter who is asking, no matter how many times we ask, very firmly, very definitely, he has decided his name is Mama too.
I know this is probably just a quirk of the seventeen month old brain, getting names confused, but I know how he feels. I’m working a terrible schedule right now and haven’t seen him nearly as much as I want to, and when I’m at work for the thirtieth straight hour I feel his absence like a missing limb. I keep closing my eyes and remembering when I carried him inside me and his movements were the rhythm of my day. Remembering when he was a newborn and slept only in my arms for his first two weeks of life because we were both too exhausted to stay awake when he nursed. Remembering the first call night I spent away from him and the many call nights yet to come.
It’s been seventeen months since he was physically a part of me but it hasn’t gotten any easier to be away from him. I work an average of seventy hours a week, and on days when I work will spend at most three hours of awake time with him. And yet, the division between us seems to be only physical. When he falls down he still throws himself into my arms for comfort, my belly is still his preferred raspberry target, and he still interrupts his play time just to give me a kiss. I’ve been terrified of ruining our relationship with my awful schedule, but somehow, we are stronger than ever. We are Mama, undivided.
For Mama Says Om.