I Can't Hear You When You "Mom" Me


Submitted 3 months ago

Side effects of motherhood made include hearing loss.

My older daughter has officially dropped “mommy” for “mom,” which is fine, except my ears do not register this sound.

For nearly twelve years I’ve responded to every “mommy” almost as soon as the word left her lips. Now I’m promoted to “mom,” and folks, I literally cannot hear her.

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It started over summer vacation. I’d be reading a book on the beach, mostly oblivious but half-listening for fights and/or distress, as we tend to do. I’d hear a “mommy” and snap my head up, only to find my kids laughing at me.

“I’ve been saying 'mom' for, like, twenty minutes,” my daughter would say. More like ten seconds, but still, I’d heard no such thing.

Now she'll say Mom. Mom. Mom. and if I don't respond, she gets annoyed and silent. The silence gets my attention, and I"ll say "Oh! Were you talking to me?" So, I'm getting... better? 

You know how baby penguins have a distinct call that tells their parents, “I am yours?” That’s what it’s like. She had a unique “mommy” – slight emphasis on the second half of the word, yet rolled off the tongue so fast that she almost skipped the “M” sound in the middle. I’d hear it and think, that’s mine. I could pick her out of playground mob in a second.

It was also my bat signal; it propelled me to action when she had a question, when she was scared, or when a stomach bug struck in the middle of the night. Without it, I have no sense of urgency. Girl, who are you, what are you saying, and do I need to put down my coffee for this or what?

But mostly, calling me “mom” makes her sound exactly what she is: older. More mature, less needy of me in the ways to which I'm accustomed. I know that’s the whole point. But she’ll never go back to “mommy.” Maybe my ears and heart weren’t quite ready for that. 

I'd better train these ear muscles, though, before she figures out how to use this to her advantage. Besides, I'll always be listening for her.

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