Just over a year ago, LO was still sleeping in his crib when he wasn't co-sleeping with us. (Basically, this means he spent a grand total of 17 minutes per night sleeping in his crib, but it was progress).
The child woke up in the middle of the night one fateful evening and cried quietly for a moment. This was enough to wake me up, so I was fully awake to hear him clearly call out "Mommy?" when I didn't immediately come get him.
Of course, this melted my heart. It was the first time he used the definitive word Mommy in my hearing. Even though I have always referred to myself as Mama to him, I loved hearing him say Mommy and knowing that it was his special name for me.
Of course, none of that heart-melting was enough to make me want to get up.
I made J go.
He got the child and brought him back to our bed so I could nurse LO back to sleep. Mommies have to rest, after all.
Since that particular night, I have heard Mommy only a handful of other times. It's as if the word has disappeared from LO's vocabulary, and he relies on a basic M sound to refer to me.
This is not really a big deal. The child is speech delayed, as much as it has been difficult for me to accept that fact. We know he can say Mommy (and kitty cat and juice and applesauce and other words that have since disappeared) and we know that he understands language very well and we know that he's working on talking, at least when it suits him.
And yet, I think back to that one wee hour call of Mommy all the time. I keep wondering, what if I had gone to get him and reinforced his calling for Mommy with the appearance of the woman herself?
Maybe he wouldn't have lost the word.
Maybe he would have had the reinforcement he needed to hold onto his vocabulary rather than letting it melt away like the snows of yesteryear.
Maybe getting my lazy ass out of bed that night instead of making J do the dirty work would have been the difference between the child talking now and the child having weekly speech therapy lessons wherein he learns new words that we never hear again.
Of course, I know this is stupid and irrational, not to mention mother-blaming. In the modern world, we're all very quick to blame mothers for any and every problem a child has, which means that 21st century motherhood has become an impossible task because there is nothing in between doing it perfectly and fucking it up beyond all recognition.
And yet, I still come back to that night in my mind. I loved that he called for me. I loved hearing my name from him, even though it wasn't even the name I had chosen for myself. I'll happily be Mommy rather than Mama if that's what he wants to call me. I felt so close to him that moment, and yet I had Daddy get up to go to him instead of dragging myself down the hall.
Maybe LO didn't know how much it meant to me to hear him.