Sometimes She Calls Me Mama

It is my suspicion that my husband thinks I coddle Katie too much.  My husband has never really said those words, but I can tell by the way he looks at me.  Granted, Katie is almost four years old.  She is certainly not a baby anymore; she is not even a toddler.

What my husband doesn’t know is… sometimes she still calls me mama.

It’s the way she says it.  Ma-ma.  Slow and precise.  Each syllable deliberate, much like it sounded when she was just a wee baby learning to talk.  Ma-ma.

Take last night for instance.  We put Katie to bed with a kiss and a hug.  We closed her door softly behind us.  Ten minutes later, she was calling.  “Daddddddy…”  This stalling technique has been in full swing for about three weeks now.

“I’ll go,” I said to my husband.  He gave me a leave-her-alone-and-she’ll-stop-calling look.  I went anyway.

I nudged Katie’s door open and peered into the darkness.

“What is it, Katie?” I whispered.

“I’m firsty, Mama,” she replied.

“No more drinks, Katie.  It’s time to go to sleep now.”

Firsty rhymes with wirsty and mirsty,” she observed. I did not reply and started to back out of the doorway, pulling the door shut.

“My knee hurts,” she tried again before I could make my exit.

“Close your eyes, Katie.  Go to sleep.”

“I hot, Mama,” she pleaded.

I crept over and sat gently on the side of her bed, rubbing her back and telling her to think happy thoughts.  Her unruly hair formed a tangle of curls around her face and my hand drifted up to smooth the curls.  Katie giggled at my ticklish touch and I giggled back.  She still laughs like a baby, from deep down in her belly sometimes.  I watched her eyes start to droop close and felt mine start to do the same.  I sat in silence for a long time, just staring and watching her breathe.  She smiled up at me, and in her face I could still see the chubby-cheeked baby she once was.  I could also see a glimpse, ever so slight, of the girl she is becoming.

My husband thinks I coddle her.  He doesn’t know that Katie is right on the edge, caught somewhere between baby and girl.   He doesn’t know that if you look at her long enough, you can see both her past and her future.

“Time for sleep, Katiebug,” I whispered.

“Okay, Mama,” she whispered back.

He doesn’t know that sometimes she still calls me mama.

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19 thoughts on “Sometimes She Calls Me Mama

  1. What a lovely post, Dana. Once again, you capture the specific love you feel for your child but also the more general love of parents for their children–and the twinges of loss and pride as those children grow and change. Personal yet universal. I love the line: “He doesn’t know that if you look at her long enough, you can see both her past and her future.” My children are all in college now and two of them still call me Mama…and I love it!

  2. This is very touching. I grew up with a family who doesn’t express their selves. I feel envious when I go to my friends house and I see them kiss their mother and their mother will kiss them back. I also want to do that. And I want my mother to do that to.

  3. Beautiful. Katie sound a lot like my little girl, who is not quite so little anymore at 7, yet still calls me Mama. I never asked to be called this and for the first several years of her life it was Mommy. I think she heard her cousin using this term with my sister and liked the sound of it and so it’s been Mama for the last 3 years or so. I love how it makes me feel and I love that she still insists on using it as she grows wiser and more mature with every passing day. Hold on to this as long as you can and thanks for brightening my morning wigh this lovely post.

  4. What a beautiful post, Dana. Four years old is a tipping point. The baby is still there. It’s important to hold on to these moments. Enjoy it. And reflect on it. In the moment and in writing. This is the stuff that matters.

  5. Beautiful moment of the heart captured with words. These are the moments that get lost in the task of daily living and raising of children. I hope you have that delightful laugh recorded so you can revisit the sound for years to come.

  6. I love the tender moment you captured. Before you and Jerome know it, Katie will be a teenager. Savor these moments. A little lovin’ from one’s mama never hurts.

    Btw: I loved this – Firsty rhymes with wirsty and mirsty.”

  7. There is that time you described, and now you’ve captured it so poignantly. My youngest granddaughter (4) is that age, & still likes to be carried sometimes, & they do, knowing that too soon, she won’t ask. The six year old is not asking, off on her own adventures, starting to pull away. You’ve got it just right, Dana.

  8. You are so right… at this age you can see both the baby and the girl. I am always amazed at that! Love that rhyming of firsty! I am forwarding this to my daughter who has a 4 year old son. We are just now seeing the “boy” in him, but there is still a lot of the “baby” there.
    Thanks for sharing such a sweet moment!

  9. Awww, such a sweet post! I can picture you and her in her bedroom perfectly. And I love the idea that you can see her little baby past and her big girl future! As a new mom, I imagine this is how I’ll feel someday! (Really, I already do… she has already changed so much from when she was a newborn five months ago!)

  10. My ten year old calls me Mama still and it is one of my greatest joys. He says it when he isn’t thinking about what he is saying. It’s his heart speaking, I think. She will not be who she is today, tomorrow. Love who she is now as ferociously as you can. You are right, it is not coddling.

  11. I am certainly no expert Dana but, I think enjoy the the “coddle” times as long as she wants/needs her mama 🙂 They grow up so fast and there’s plenty of time for her to be grownup.

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