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Playing Favorites

I’ve finally had a chance to look at
the results from my most recent poll – What was baby’s
first word?

And it’s good to know I’m not
the only one who got left in the dust.

Overwhelmingly, “Dada” was
baby’s first word, with “Mama” coming in a
distant second.

Before I got pregnant, everyone told me
baby’s first word is usually “mama”; I assumed it
was because that’s the person baby’s around the most.
After I had Maddie, though, the truth came out. I had mom after mom
confess to me that baby’s first word was

Why didn’t anyone admit to this

In spite of what all the Hallmark
commercials want you to think, it seems “mama” is not a
sure-fire first word. For our household, Maddie began saying
“dada” a good week or so before saying
“mama”. When friends find that out, they look at me
with a mixture of horror any sympathy.

“What! Maddie’s first word wasn’t Mama?
Didn’t that make you feel awful?”

No, actually, it didn’t.

The way I see it, Maddie hear the word “dada” way more
than she heard “mama”. Why? Because Mama doesn’t
talk about herself! She talks about Dada: “Dada’s at
work! Dada’s going to have lunch with us! Dada’s coming
home!” As far as Maddie was concerned, I was the large,
unnameable, immovable presence in her life. I didn’t require
much thought at all, much less a name; I was simply always

And that’s fine with me. Being taken for granted in that way
– having my child never worry or wonder where I am or even
need to spare much thought for me – was actually kind of cool
at that stage. It said I was doing my job well.

Of course now, in the middle of a Sick Baby Marathon when Maddie
only wants Mama and I’ve been holding her for nine hours
straight, I’ve got a different opinion. Sending my husband
into the wailing baby’s room in order to give me a couple
hours peace, only to hear over the monitor as Maddie catches sight
of Brian: “No no no no no! I want mama!” doesn’t
send a warm, fuzzy feeling all over me.

It sends resentful, begrudging
thoughts-about-whiskey-in-baby’s-milk- type feelings all over

By and large though, I still get a thrill when she talks to me by
name. Early mornings when we’re both there to get her
dressed, Maddie lies happily on her changing table pointing back
and forth between me and Brian: “Mama. Dada. Mama.
Dada.” She doesn’t get tired of putting order to her

And we don’t get tired of hearing it.

Except at 2 a.m.


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