For a while I chalked it up to the newness and the language barrier. I wasn't Mama yet, or even really mama with a little m, but this was a title of honor. You don't just simply get it from these kiddos from hard places. You have to earn it. For a long time there was a language barrier and once the language issues started to subside it became an anatomy barrier (cleft lip meant she couldn't make the "mmmmmm" sound necessary for the word Mama). So she didn't say it then, either. Then she had her surgery in late April and immediately upon leaving the surgery we rapidly heard her ability to not only make the "mmmm" sound, but to also say the word Mama. She could say it, but now it simply became the truth. She didn't say it. That was hard in a way that is difficult to describe. Remember bringing home a newborn baby and being completely sleep deprived and yet pouring all you had into that little person? Remember how you got nothing in return? And it is hard. Then, one glorious day that baby looks into your eyes and a smile emerges. And it is all worth it. It has been that kind of hard, knowing that Hannah could call me Mama, but that she wouldn't. I knew not to get too worked up over it because just like that first smile, I knew it would come and it would be glorious and good and worth the wait.
To help her along with her identification of me as her Mama, I started requiring her to use my name to ask for things since I knew she was capable of saying it: "Water please, Mama!" "Thank you, Mama!" "Up, Mama!" "Night, night, Mama!" I'd have her repeat me like a little parrot and she would do it willingly. Just not spontaneously.
Last week something happened. I noticed it for a couple days and said nothing about it. When Chris pointed it out to me, I knew I wasn't delusional and it was really happening. I became Mama. With a big M. HER Mama.
It did not start slowly or gradually begin to emerge. Nope. One day it wasn't there. The next day? Suddenly, I am MAMA. She uses it fast and furious for all that she needs. "Mama! Mama! Maaaaaaa! Mammmmmma!" I need a drink, I need a snack, I am done napping, I am hurt, I am sad, I need your attention! MAMA!
I wrote this in my previous post about being known as Mama:
Oh, sweet Hannah. If only you knew who I was, what my intentions are, or what the bigger picture is. All I have for you is the best I have to give. All I have for you is for your good. Little girl, I see the tiny bricks being laid. I know the day will come. It won't just be a glimmer of a moment or as fleeting as the wind. You will know. And I will know. I am fully your Mama. Not just a Mama. Yours. And your lips will utter it with full assurance, "You are MY Mama." And the doubt will be gone. And the grief will be just a quiet murmur in the background of life. You will be secure in the arms or your Mama.
The grief is still there and while I wish I could say at this moment it is a quiet murmur in the background of life, it isn't, but it is getting there. But I can say now with full assurance, I am HER Mama. Hannah's Mama. And she knows it.
On the road weary days when I am running out of steam to run this race, I can take a deep breath and know. She knows. I know. Hannah has a Mama. And it's me.