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.



Filed under Motherhood

5 responses to “Divided

  1. oh boy, can I relate to this, being a mama and all…

    thank you,

  2. This post hits a chord with me as my 18 month old son is a little man of few words. He understands almost everything i have tried to convey to him – points to pictures accurately after i say them and ask him to find them – but he really only has a couple of dozen words under his belt. His two favorite being car and ball and Umm ( for cat ) . I taught him a bit of sign language when he was smaller and he makes himself understood fairly well by gestures , but not so much with words.( intelligible ones , that is ! )
    I am assured by his Pediatrician that he is NOT developmentally behind that he just uses different skills to communicate and is advanced in other ways.
    All babies find their way eventually to verbal language- if talked to and encouraged enough.
    Give your son time and before you know it the words will start spilling forth like rainwater.
    For now , enjoy the kisses…

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  4. Aww, brings back sweet memories. I’ll share with you a story about the Unreliable Narrator. When he was getting to be about 20 months, I started to feel edgy. He had some words, but not many. We also took a “baby signs” ASL sign language class together, so he had lots of signs. With quavery (and definitely first-time mama) voice that just barely choked back sobs, I confided to HB that maybe our son had a developmental delay. (I make fun of myself because, well…it’s just so easy to do. :)) Why wasn’t he talking much?

    His language explosion didn’t happen for another couple of months and since then, the dear boy just never. shuts. up. He’s 4 now and wears out my eardrums with nonstop questions.

    Give it a little while longer and see if using basic signs (more, milk, up, airplane, etc) doesn’t help smooth over the gaps between expressive and receptive for now. I’m willing to bet his language explosion is on its way.

    P.S. At 4, the Unreliable Narrator still has a very special relationship with “tummy.”

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