At some point, she said, Momma.
I say that as though I don’t know exactly when it happened. As though I I hadn’t been waiting for that moment since I first peed on a digital stick and it said: Pregnant. She was 18-months old. It was the week before the Super Bowl, a few days after my birthday. She said it nonchalantly, as though saying momma were completely ordinary for her. As though she had been saying it for half her life, which is exactly how long she had been saying Dadda, which was eventually replaced with Daddy.
I loved being called Momma, but it wasn’t meant to last. These last few months have been marred by the constant arrival of teeth. From 12-months to 19, she had exactly four teeth. Sweet little beaver teeth in the front of her mouth. Plenty enough to tear off food and mash with her gums and jaws, but poor substitutes for the tongue controlling bicuspids and sound vibrating molars she has sprouted since turning 1 1/2. And with all of those teeth has come a slurry of words. She was a formidable gesturer and grunter (Ohhhh could she point, scowl, and squawk) for as long as I can remember. But those grunts and points have been replaced with This and That. Her musical Uhhh-OhhooOOhhh now has tons of explication. Things GO Up! They Fall Down! What was once merely Ow, is now Knee hurt. Hurt my leg.
And in all that need for clarifying her thoughts, for speaking so that she might be understood, for annunciating, Momma vanished almost as quickly as it came. Two weeks ago, she beckoned me from another room by shouting, Maaah-mee (she says it deep in the throat like that, the ah-sound coming out like the catcalls of brown-skinned day laborers). And ever since then, it’s been my name.
I will always be her mommy, but I miss being her Momma.