Clinging to Mommy

Written by Emily

“No way, Mom!”

“What?! I’m not Mom! I’m Mommy,” I answered and then buried my face in her belly as I tackled her to the ground.

When she stood up, her cheeks were flushed, and she smiled. The light from the windows made her hair glow.

“No way, Mom!” she said again.

I tackled her again because this was a game now.


Since that day, I catch her playing with her toys. In her imagination, all the kids say “Mom” and the doll house women spring to action when they hear it.


She’s trying it out like new shoes–running and jumping and wiggling until she knows for certain they’ll take her where she wants to go.

Mom. She’s testing its weight on her tongue. She’s seeing if it floats in the air around her or sinks.

She’s two. I’m not ready.

I need more Mommy.

Noah is seven, and Mommy is fading. “This is my mom,” he says to his hockey friends. Sometimes he sighs, “Mo-om” and makes it two syllables when I ask him to straighten up the playroom. Before too long, he’ll roll his eyes and close his bedroom door and by then “Mommy” will be gone.

I’m not ready.

Today, I’m clinging to Mommy. I’m savoring its sound. I’m flipping through the photo albums in my mind and remembering when Ma-Ma was born, the joy in their eyes and in mine–how I clapped and danced to hear it: Ma-ma.  That was me.

And then it was Mommy. Their mouths almost curled into a smile when they said it. It’s the woman I’ve become, the arms at the end of the slide, the fan in the stands, the face behind the camera.

I won’t sit behind my computer with my three nestled in their beds and pretend I cherished every Mommy moment. I didn’t. I couldn’t possibly. There were countless times–some today even–that I wanted to hide when I heard Mommy march, catapult, scream out of their mouths. It’s not always sonorous around here–with the whining and the pitch that only dogs in the neighborhood (and Mommy, sadly) can hear. But my memories are mostly rose colored–as they should be, I think.

A few days ago, when I was rifling through Noah’s “stay at home” folder, I read one of his journal entries, a 100-day of school prompt. Beneath some sketches of a bear and an eagle was this:

I would love to have 100 pets because I love anamals. I would NOT like to have 100 mommys because I have the best mommy ever.

I never know what to do with all of the work my littles bring home. I often wait until no one is looking and toss it in the trash, so we’re not buried alive by paperwork. But not this time. This time I folded the thin paper with huge lines for my boy’s deliberate letters and tucked it into a zippered pocket in my purse. I want to stumble upon it and remember.


“What’s in a name?” some ask. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” promises Shakespeare.

I hope he’s right. I really do. Because I’ll be Mom for much longer than Mommy.

But today, I’m clinging to Mommy. I’m savoring its sound.

20 comments for “Clinging to Mommy

  1. March 4, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Oh, this is so sweet and sentimental. Gosh, how I miss “ma-ma”. Such a sweet sound and I love “mommy” too. My daughter calls “mommy” to me in the middle of the night but I’m usually “mom” now, she’s 6. It was hard when that first became the norm. Hearing my son (2.5) say “mom” is funny because he’s mimicking his sister and knows it sounds funny even to him. I’m all too familiar with “ma-awm!” and even get my first name thrown at me sometimes. But “mommy” will always be my favorite. Your sons journal is the best!

    • March 4, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      The “ma-awm” is so teen angsty, isn’t it? It makes me laugh now, but I’m sure it will drive me insane at some point. Mommy is my favorite right now, but I’m sure Mom will grow on us. It has to, right? We have years to make it fit 🙂

  2. March 4, 2014 at 9:08 am

    So sweet! I love Noah’s note! I have come across a few bits of sentiment like that and it warms my heart and makes me miss those days. I’m so glad you are taking time to savor and cherish all those special moments with your kiddos.

    • March 4, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Mary, I often think of Evan’s poem about peace. Remember that? It was so sweet and lovely and perfect.

  3. March 4, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Oh how wonderful! I love that you did save the journal to “stumble upon” later! I barely remember when I was “mommy”, it didn’t last long at all – but I will admit that I have really enjoyed being “mom”, because with that has come adventure. Once he became old enough to call me mom, then he was old enough for action and adventures and we have had our fair share!
    Enjoy the last vestige of Mommy, and then get ready for the next adventure when you become Mom.

    • March 4, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      There will be adventures with Mom for sure. And there is so much to look forward to. I have you to assure me of that 🙂 I think Mr. T is a very lucky guy!

  4. Cathy
    March 4, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Kate, you offer great words of reassurance! At my age, I appreciate any and all terms of endearment. I’ll answer to “Hey, you!” if it gives me more time with my grandkids! But looking back, mommy times still pull at my heartstrings.

  5. Kelley
    March 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Em – this is such a wonderful piece. I loved every word of it!

  6. March 4, 2014 at 11:56 am

    OMG, I really wish you hadn’t written this piece, because it made me cry. Sometimes when I allow myself to think about things like this, I wonder how people can possibly live through the transition. In 18 years, how will I possibly adapt to my son preferring to see his girlfriend and forgetting to call home at least once a week? How? How does one deal with that? How can someone live with being the needed mommy and then suddenly an afterthought? Our children move on to other things that are fulfilling. They go from Mama to college fun to romantic love to their own children. But what consolation does Mama get? An empty house? Empty arms.


    • March 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      I am so sorry! I don’t know how one deals with it…stalking maybe 🙂 The truth is, these transitions grip at my heart, and I see them happening daily. The good thing is that there are so many fabulous memories to sustain us. The letting go is all part of it, isn’t it? And you have a perfect partner in all of this…so there’s that 🙂

      • March 4, 2014 at 9:00 pm

        That doesn’t help! Wahhhhhh! Don’t grow up!!!! 🙂

  7. March 4, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I’m nowhere near parenthood, but your writing takes me there. It’s full of emotion, and I remember how my mom felt when my brother called her mom for the first time. (I still call her mommy. lol) You’re writing is amazing.

    • March 4, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Oh! Thank you for the compliment! I truly appreciate it! And thank you for reading and commenting and finding a way to connect. Have a fabulous Tuesday…you’ve made mine 🙂

  8. March 4, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    One of mine is 18 and nearly gone. I remember everything, and as I feel my heart break wide open, as if the sun is rising through it, all those memories flood me and I bless his back as he walks into his life, and thank everything that I’m seeing this day and that I did not have to bury it, because sometimes mommies have to.

    I felt his whole life unfold with his first fluttering kicks.

    As I did with my younger two. And I held on to everything I could

    Thank you for writing this, it reminded me, how much I can hold.

    And that’s bigger than any loss.

  9. Pat Lutz
    March 4, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Love reading your stuff but especially today as I reminisce on my daughter’s 21st birthday. Getting somewhat used to her not being here to celebrate the day (I guess) since this is the third one she’s had in college. As I read your piece, I welled up with tears but smiled as I thought about the few notes that I stow away where even as an adult she says, “I love you, MOMMY” Thanks for sharing your elegant gift of writing and your beautiful gift of motherhood!

  10. Kathleen Gallo
    March 5, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Precious memories! I am so thankful the Lord blessed me with 4 of them who called me Mommy – then Mom – then some Mo, (>:) and now I get to add Grandma/Ama to that list – Oh, the joy – just CALL ME !!

  11. March 5, 2014 at 12:40 am

    Emily, I always just love reading your posts. I feel like we’re in the same headspace a lot of the time. Lovely piece. I am clinging to being Mommy, too.

  12. March 5, 2014 at 12:49 am

    Oh, so true!! I’ve reached the point that my 17 year old attempted to call me “Angela” recently. Some of his friends call their Moms by their first name but I nipped that in the bud! I told him I called my Mom “Mom” until the day she passed away and that I would always be Mom to him. I just can’t go there. 🙂

  13. March 5, 2014 at 11:42 am

    It’s almost funny how it’s gotten to the point where I brace myself as my eyes start to well up as soon as I read “Written by Emily”.

    I can totally relate this as a dad, daddy when I’m lucky. (#dadmoments?)

    I’ve intentionally tried to raise my kids, now 10 & 6, to be independent thinkers and resist peer pressure. And I’ll admit here that a semi-secret part of my motivation has been to resist the peer pressure to pull away from me affectionately. We’ll talk about standing up for what you believe in and feel, and included in that is giving your parents a hug.

    I’ve been extremely successful so far with my 10 year old son. He will still spontaneously hold my hand even though none of his peers do the same. (Okay, admission number two: I’ve also suggested that being proactive and appearing strong about his emotions will look better than being embarrassed when if I publicly insist he give his daddy a hug like he always does.)

    It’s too soon to judge with my 6 year baby girl. She’s far my contrary than my son. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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