Since my last post on the topic my toddler, now 16 ½ months old, finally seems to get who ‘Mama’ is. She is able to point to that ‘Mama like figure’ in the bedtime storybook, say ‘Mama’ and then point at me with a jab of her chubby finger. When faced with real persons, she can now point at the right person (which is me most of the time) when asked. As a mother, I’ve found I really delight in hearing my little one call me and recognize me for who I am!
Lately, I’ve also noticed that the way my toddler calls me is quite distinct, because of her own special voice and emphasis on these two little syllabus. I remember hearing at church a 20 month old girl cry out ‘Mommmie’ and once at a library Book Babies’ event, I heard a 15 month old boy wail out ‘Maaaaa!’ when he saw his mother ‘walk away’ from him. All this has made me wonder whether each child’s call to his/her mother is distinct, and whether we as mothers also over time develop an ear attuned to our own child’s call.
When I was a teenager, I remember attempting to test this theory out. My mother and I were out shopping in a department store and I was trying to get my mother’s attention. She was just at a few clothes racks’ distance away. Instead of calling her the way I usually do, I decide to try a few other phrases first. I said, “Mother” a few times, then “Mom” a few times, then even “Mommy”. She never responded verbally or even looked my way! Finally, I resorted to the usual “Mommyiah” phrase and then she immediately answered back!! Go figure.
Now that I am a mother though, I can see how subconsciously over time we can become attuned and accustomed to our child’s cry—especially if we have to listen to it multiple times a day and multiply this by so many years. I feel pretty convinced too that each child also develops over time a slightly different and unique ‘mommy’ call. What do you think?