What It Means to Be His Mama


It’s his best word. He has been saying it since he was 10 months old, back when he was just a baby. My baby always but a baby baby then. It sounded as it should back then, and now it sounds perfect for a not quite 3-year-old. Except, it travels alone. Just Mama.

What better word to hear than the one that links us together? He can try to say his own name and gets out the first letter of Amos. He has a few more m words and can sign please and thank you, nod yes and no. He can say a rendition for up and out and nana for banana. Each morning when I hear him stirring, I creep into his room and he mock jumps in his crib, grins widely and says, “Mama!” like he is so surprised. Every morning I find him standing there, happy to see me, all his blankets thrown out of the crib. Just Amos and Mama.

Yesterday evening I had gotten them all to bed early. It was still light, my middle son had exclaimed, but I was tired as were they and before 8, all were asleep. I made my way to the deck by the beach and got settled to write a bit and think. Think as I listened to the ocean without chasing a little person on the beach or watch bigger people surf and boogie board. I sat quite a while and, after an hour or so, made my way back inside to take a shower and go to bed early myself.

Mama. I heard it not once but twice. I have never heard Amos call for me. The “Mama” I am used to is always in response to my greeting, and rarely does he repeat it. He was calling for me and crying. I turned off the shower and found him standing in his crib, snuffling, and he said Mama again. I picked him up, gathered his gulping self close to my own body, and crooned words of love to him. Mama, he had said over and over, and I was so sorry I had not been there.

To be Amos’ Mama is to be his lifeline, and whether or not that means I’m doing something wrong, I just can’t not connect him to the world right now. This summer has been one of love and adventure and pushing him to explore, but it has also been one of gathering him close to me so very often and kissing his head and letting his silky blond locks fall through my fingers. We tote his blanket nearly everywhere, and I am available for the taking as his safe place, a refuge in the world where he struggles to find his bearings.

I am his Mama. A Mama. The mama of a boy who loves life better than anyone I’ve ever known, and I want him to know I will always come when he calls. I will always be his Mama.

The author's son Amos, smiling and standing on a beach shore

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