I was first called "Mommy" on my 28th birthday. I had already been a mother for over three years, but my oldest child had a moderate speech delay that kept him on the toddlerish "ma-ma" longer than is probably typical. But on that day, my birthday, my preschooler suddently piped up with a heartfelt "Mommy!" What an amazing birthday gift, I thought to myself. I was relieved at his improving speech patterns, of course, but more than that, I felt I had joined a revered club. I was somebody's mommy.

Boy, was I ever.

That was August of 2000. In addition to my "mommy"-saying preschooler, I had a lightning-fast 18-month old toddler who never met a surface he didn't try to jump off of. When I wasn't wrangling him off the furniture, I was dashing to the bathroom, sick as could be from the third little person growing in my belly.

I built spectacular Thomas the Tank Engine tracks. I could change a diaper in the dark in under 30 seconds. I could nurse a baby in a moving car without ever unbuckling him (don't ask). I went to playgroups, library story times, and I was never more than three feet from a box of wet wipes.

I was Mommy.

I wonder how many times I heard that word? Mommy, I'm scared. Mommy, I'm hurt. Mommy, he hit me. Mommy, it's my turn. Mommy, what's that? Mommy, how does it work? Mommy, I'm hungry. Mommy, I want that. Mommy, I don't want that. Can I, Mommy, please, please, please, pleeeeease? Mommy, watch this. Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy.


It was beautiful to me, most of the time, except on the exhausting days when I wished everybody could develop laryngitis all at once. I could hear it and know instantly who was saying it, what he needed, and precisely where in the house he could be found.

Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy. Hubs and I would hear it from the backseat on long car trips. He would look at me in amazement. "Do they always say your name that much?" he asked. I nodded.

And then, shockingly, just around the time the firstborn suddenly shifted to "Mom", the surprise fourth child arrived to add her voice.

Mommy, mommy, mommy. It was my music. My theme song. The soundtrack of a season that has followed me until this, the approaching summer of my 41st birthday.

"I need to ask you something," my youngest child said to me last week. She was very serious. I sat down.

"I think I'm one of the last of the second graders to say 'mommy'," she explained. She paused pensively. "Would you mind if I just called you 'mom' now?"

It is touching to me that she would ask. I guess she needed to make it official, with a pronouncement. She's her mother's daughter, after all.

I smiled and shrugged. "Call me whatever you want," I told her. "I'll come running."

She kissed me and hopped up, off to the next thing. But I sat for a second more, mentally placing a bookend. I guess that's that.

It's funny how the little things are sometimes so big. It's just a name, a word I've heard so many thousands of times it's a wonder I could hear it at all. But that's the job, isn't it? We are what they need us to be, and their name for us reflects that.

Call me whatever you want. I'll come running.

Thank you for my sweet mommy years, kids. Thank you for letting me love you and comfort you like only a mommy can. Thank you for growing up into people who can cut their own meat and wipe their own nose.

I love these days.

12 thoughts on “Mommy

  1. Barbara H. says:

    Very sweet! Funny how we long to hear “Mommy,” then sometimes get weary of hearing it, then miss hearing it. I don’t think they’ll ever outgrow “Mom” though.

  2. stephanie says:

    You’re writing has always made me both laugh and also get a little teary… however knowing your precious kids makes it even more wonderful to read. Miss you and your family!

  3. Kristen says:

    Aand you’re back. I started reading your blog when my first baby was born and I didn’t know which way was up. Today is that baby’s seventh birthday (i have three now) and now I’m crying in the school pick up line. You have a gift…keep using it!

  4. Jai says:

    It is SO good to see you back!! I was JUST talking about your blog last night and decided to google and see if anything new was there! Imagine my surprise. It seems a lot has changed in the bloggy word, but it is good to have one of the “originals” writing again.

  5. Deborah says:

    Oh, this pricks my heart. My oldest is in second grade, and my youngest isn’t talking yet, so hopefully I still have years of “Mommy” left, but I think my 8 year old has pretty much transitioned to “Mom.” He seems so big to me lately.

  6. Melissa says:

    Hi, Shannon. It’s Melissa (formerly of Breath of Life). So glad to see you’re back to blogging some! Your re-entry post hit home with me, as I’m trying to find some MUCH-NEEDED balance in my social media presence (thus, the new blog, A Quiet Life). Anyway, I’m popping in to say don’t be surprised if your girl continues to call you Mommy every now and then. Never in the presence of anyone else of course! I speak from experience…

  7. Pam says:

    When my granddaughter was little (she’s 15 now) she would ride in the backseat and say “Nana….Nana….
    NANA “. I would say …..yes …..yes…..yes…..and she would say “Oh I forgot”

  8. Susan G says:

    This makes me smile. It’s funny, I have always been Mama and my boys (15,13,& 11) continue to call me that while my eight year old daughter has been calling me Mom more and more lately. My five year old daughter is betwixt and between Mama and Mom. I’m just happy to have reached that stage that they can all get themselves ready and down to the car when it’s time to go leave. 🙂

  9. sherry says:

    Where we live, in the country in Ireland, it is very common–albeit strangely odd–for adult children to refer to parents as Mammy and Daddy. It is odd and I doubt that my girls will follow as we’re ‘blow ins’ and don’t capture the culture 100%. My eldest (10yo), who see herself as American, calls me Mommy and my youngest (8yo), who could care less about identities, calls me Mammy, a distint Irish naming. I, too, come running regardless of what they call me. x

  10. Aunt LoLo says:

    This is just fabulous. There is certainly a season for everything….and I’m grateful for these Mommy years while still being excited for the future. 🙂

  11. Hub City Girl says:

    Awesome post! Really makes one appreciate being called “Mommy” that much more. I love how you write. So glad you’re back!
    By the way, I think some of your posts need a heading of “Warning: you might need a box of tissue for this one” LOL I say this in a good way 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s