“mama” to “mom.”

a newborn asks for nothing. well, except for his Mama’s body {swollen, first around the middle, then later, in her chest}, her mind {anxious with worry all the time, except when she remembers to breathe}, and her nourishment {which, for my babies at least, are seasoned with Nacho Cheese Doritos, peanut M&Ms from a large yellow bag, and a taste – or three – of red wine.} a newborn doesn’t ask for his Mama’s heart, for her soul to ache with each milestone reached, each gurgle and snort and sigh; these, she gives freely.

a 2.5 year old, on the other hand, asks for everything, from the toy Lightning McQueen car at Target to the first, second, and last bites of his Mama’s supper. he, like the newborn, got his fill of his mother since birth, yet his 2.5-year-old self has since armed himself with an independent mind and a stubbornness that rivals only his mother’s. it’s this recently-realized autonomy that leads him to christen the woman formerly known as “Mama” with a new name altogether – “Mom.”

of course, this moniker of “Mom” arrived all too soon for the mother in question. you see, while “Mama” inherently points to a sense of youthful innocence, both on the part of the word’s user and its counterpart, the term “Mom” colors it all differently. unlike “Mama,” “Mom” is a term that’s reserved for three types of exchanges: 1) for exasperated teenagers {“oh, Mom!”}; 2) for whiny children in dire need of a sleepover with Jenny or Jerry or whoever’s the friend of the minute {“please, Mom?”}; 3) or for twenty-somethings who see “Mom” pop up on their iPhone and click “Ignore.” thus, since this 2.5 year old is neither an adult nor its pre-pubescent opposite, and since sleepovers in his mind mean snuggles in the “big” bed instead of his own, the name “Mom” should not escape his mouth for, say, at least five years. but, the mother hears it at almost every turn in nearly every situation.

“i need juice, Mom.”

“sorry, Mom, for hitting.”

“wanna watch Blippi on the iPad, Mom.”

and yet, the exception to the rule, the asterisk in this 2.5 year old’s reincarnation of his “Mama,” is one single, solitary phrase:

“snuggle Mama.”

uttered in moments of discomfort or pain, of unfamiliarity or stress, “snuggle Mama” is always accompanied by big, brown eyes that pierce the soul and outstretched arms aimed in her direction. and, for a moment, all thoughts of the word “Mom” – and the cantankerous exchanges that this word brings along – dissipate. as the mother – no, the Mama – takes her boy into her arms, her only concern is for her son, even though he’s guaranteed to ask for something soon, even though he’s destined to use the forbidden word of “Mom” again.

oh well – – there’s always hope for the newborn.

About Sara

Sara works in higher education, but she's most proud of her role as a Mama to two precocious boys, Lionel Conner, age 4, and Quincy August, age 2. In honor of turning 30 in 2016, she pierced her nose to "keep her young." She loves watching guilty-pleasure television, writing about motherhood, decorating her first home, sipping red wine with her husband Jordan, and chasing after her sons.
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