On Saturday, Sylvia said "Mama" for the first time. She is 21.5 months old. Her first word was "Jiggs" (our dog). Her second word was "Dada," which she has been using correctly and effectively for about a year now (though it morphed into "Daddy" as she started to use it more purposefully). Yet I, her mother, had not yet been named.
I like to think it's because I was always there. Mama is the expected. She does not need to be named because she is never unreachable. Mama is omnipresent, omnipowerful, encompassing all names and expressions. Or something like that.
Last month, I tried hiding from Sylvia to see if she would call for me. She ran around the house, growing more and more frustrated before yelling "Daddy! Daddy!" and melting into tears. Then, of course, Mama swept in to make things right. Who needs a name for the person who never truly leaves?
But Saturday, while on a family walk, she started babbling "mamamamamama." I asked, "Where's Mama?" (a game she knows well), but this time when she pointed to me she said "Mama!" About 10 minutes later, she walked into the living room, looked at me, said "Mama" and came over to crawl into my lap. Readers, I kid you not: my heart grew three sizes that day. When I carried her upstairs for her nap, she said my name softly a few times as she nuzzled against me, and I let loose a few tears.
I have been a mother for 21.5 months. I have dealt with all the emotions that go with that: the incredible love, the overwhelming frustration, the pride, the guilt, the terror, the joy. But being called "Mama" elicited a whole new wave of wonder, adoration and humility. I'm someone's mother. I'm Sylvia's Mama. Wow.