Last Thursday ... after a morning of "Mom's, Mama's and Mommy's" ... I decided to do a little experiment. Just for a fun, I thought I would keep a running tally of the number of times my children said, "Mom" or any variation, "Mommy", "Mama", "Ma", etc. I started this observation at 12 o'clock noon on Thursday, September 9th and kept count until 12 o'clock noon on Friday, September 10th. Now, please be assured that this in no way a scientific study (mainly because I didn't get paid!) but also because I found that my ears are capable of completely tuning out my children and so it's possible that there were more Mom/Mommy/Mama's said and I didn't catch them. It's also entirely possible that I was completely overwhelmed by the constant barrage of Mom/Mommy/Mama's and so lost count. In light of those two facts, please be assured that I did the best I could :).
It was certainly an eye-opening and amusing 24-hours while I was keeping tally. I stuck a piece of scrap paper on the refrigerator so that I would have an easy place to jot down my running count. I figured that I would make a note when I reached "20" ... little did I know that I would reach such a high number so fast! Within the first 20 minutes of deciding to do this little test, I had already counted 20 Mom/Mommy/Mama's ... that's a startling "Mom" per minute! I was amazed at how quickly these "Mom's" were adding up.
At one point, little Ashley said, "Mommy" six times in a row ... and I was sitting next to her at the kitchen table. A few times "Mommy" popped up several times in one breath. For example, "Mommy? Can I can some yogurt, Mommy, with my granola? Hmmm, Mommy?" Sometimes there was a barrage of "Mommy's" with no time for me to actually respond. Sometimes there were "Mommy's" with pauses in between, but she was calling from some other room in the house and it took me a while to get there. I should also note the differences in the Mom/Mommy/Mama's. Sometimes it was a quick, "Mommy". Sometimes it was a drawn-out, "Moooommmmmyyyyy". Lydia was also quite a culprit in the "Mama" department (no doubt due to her limited vocabulary). She was famous for wandering the house, pointing at things and shouting, "Ma" repeatedly. When the older kids were home, it became a bit more of a challenge to keep up with the tally as the Mom/Mommy/Mama's were coming quickly and oftentimes right on top of someone else's Mom/Mommy/Mama's. I had hoped that the older kids would be more conservative with their use of my name ... but I was wrong. (Are your eyes getting tired of reading all the "Mom/Mommy/Mama's" ... I was certainly tired of hearing them!)
Finally, 12 o'clock noon arrived on Friday. I was relieved to see my experiment coming to an end ... but I had a sinking suspicion that it would not be the end of my Mom/Mommy/Mama's. :) Are you ready for the final count? Drumroll please ......
bum, da, bum, da, bum, da, bum.....
My final total for the 24-hour period of observation was: 212 times! That to me is horrifying, hysterical and enlightening all at the same time!
It's horrifying because in reality a majority of this 24-hour period was spent with just two children (seeing as the older two were at school for 8 of these hours). And when you take into consideration that one of those two children is under two-years of old and only has about 4 words (one of them being "Mama") that leaves my poor little four-year old looking pretty guilty! :) Also, it's important to note that during 15 of those hours, the children were actually asleep (either nap time or bedtime).
It's hysterical because: what is the one word that I couldn't wait for my little sweeties to say? Mommy. And now ... it appears to be one of the only words they ever use! Lydia was my only baby that said, "Mama" first. With the older kids, they were very quick to say "Daddy" and much slower to say "Mommy". I would work with them and work with them, trying to get them to say my name. While changing their diapers, I would coo, "Say Mama... Say Mama..." What was I thinking?!?
Finally, it's enlightening because now there is no question as to why I am exhausted by the end of the day! Apparently I am under constant demand of being needed by needy little people! And they are not quiet about it ... they let me know of each and every one of their many, many needs. All the while tagging a Mom/Mommy/Mama on to make sure I'm paying attention. I now know why I am so relieved when the kids go to bed at night ... my ears can get a rest, never mind the rest of me!
Now, just so you don't get the wrong idea: I do love to hear my kids say this precious and privileged name. I just wish they were a bit more moderate in their use and maybe shared some of this "love" with their daddy!
In all seriousness, there is one time that we have trained our kids to use "Mommy" & "Daddy" and it has been a great tool in teaching respect and helping with obedience. We have taught our kids, from as soon as they could talk, to answer us with either a "Yes, Mommy" or a "Yes, Daddy" when we ask them to do something. This response is two-fold. For one reason, we like the idea that this response is teaching them the importance of honoring the authority we have over our kids. God has put us in charge and while we don't lord that over them, we do encourage them to give us the respect we are due. For the second reason, we believe that if they respond with a "Yes, Mommy" we can be sure they heard us and we can also be assured that they are aware of the responsibility that they have just been assigned. Now does this mean it always gets done? No way! But there is a little verbal "contract" that binds them to completing whatever task they have agreed to and we can follow up with an appropriate consequence if necessary.
With our little ones (Lydia, for example) we require her to respond with, "Mama" when we ask her to do something or if she has been corrected and we are asking her if understands what she did. It is terribly cute to see her serious face listening to me as I explain briefly that she can't pull hair and then her sweet response of "Mama mama ma" when I ask her, "Do you understand?" At this point it is our responsibility to see that she follows through with whatever she has been told. Even though it is debatable as to whether or not she actually does understand, we have begun a tradition of respectful response that we can build on as she gets older.
Sometimes, if you can imagine :), the older kids get out of the habit of responding correctly. In these cases, we shake up the response a little bit. Currently the proper response to a request is, "Yes, Mom. You rock!" We've also used, "Yes, Dad. You're awesome!" It's great that we get respect and a shot in the arm! I was thinking the other day that it's about time to freshen up this routine again. I'm considering, "Affirmative, Mom." ... just to hear Ashley stumble over that many syllables. :)