Makes Me Sigh, Sometimes Tart

The Invisible Line

I remember the first time I heard Sean call me mom instead of mommy.  It was in the Wal-Mart parking lot.  As we got out of the car, he reached up and grabbed my hand and said in his best grown-up voice, “You better hold my hand mom, parking lots can be dangerous.”

I remember how my ears perked up when he said mom.  It was an awakening sort of sound, like at a wedding when someone clinks a spoon on a wine glass — a sound that rises above and is out of rhythm with the other noise of life and makes you stop what you are doing and take note of the moment.

It seemed that in that moment we crossed over an invisible line – mommy on one side and mom on the other, baby on one side and boy on the other.

But the other day, he slipped up and he called me mommy.  He didn’t even notice it, but I did.

And once again, it was the clear call of a tiny bell that says,  stop and listen, take note.  It was a sweet sweet sound in my ear, to be called mommy again, for the first time in a long while.

I wanted to stand very still and savor the moment because I know I won’t be crossing back over that invisible line into babyhood again. We have gone too far.  And honestly, I don’t desire to swim against the currents of time.

But it sure was nice to visit.

56 thoughts on “The Invisible Line

  1. Oh, we’ve been crisscrossing that line and you have captured that sweet emotion. I’ve always disliked ‘mama’ but Jack will call me that when he slips, and I just smile and go with it because it beats the teen-angst ‘mmmmottthhhher’ that is surely in the wings. Happy week with your baby boy!

  2. My college-aged daughter has started calling me Mommy again now that she is grown up and living away from home. I didn’t expect that…….

    I’m 49 and I sometimes call my mom “mommy” too. I still sit on her lap sometimes too. ~ AM

  3. what a sweet poignant heartfelt post. I am savoring these moments anew with the newborn, but am finding time to remember them more with the older two as well. Maybe there is a slowing of pace that comes with the third that will make all three more enjoyable…

  4. I don’t remember the exact momemt that I went from being “Mommie” to “Mama.” But I remember the feeling well. Like something precious had just slipped through my fingers and, try as I might, I just couldn’t hold on. She was in high school and things were getting ready to change. At 20, she’s my best friend and I love and admire the woman she’s become. But, oh, how I miss the little girl that she used to be.

  5. Going from Mommy to Mom is sweet. Going from Mom to Ma isn’t sweet at all. Seems to happen sometime around the late teens. That’s about the time my Dad went from being Daddy to Pops. I think it’s just some of that teenaged insolence coming through. But you’re a long ways off from that.

  6. All of my children still call me Mommy, even my 21 year old daughter. However, the 16 year old SON just the other day started with the “Mom” thing. I couldn’t believe it. I got a little sad, but I guess I have been more blessed than most to have been the “Mommy” for so long!

  7. “sigh” Yes, these rites of passage start flying by and before you know it, they are all grown up. It reminds me of an uncharacteristic (in my mind’s eye, anyway) skit that Lily Tomlin did years ago where she was on a merry-go-round. She was a very young child with her parents and when it made a round it depicted her as a young girl with her peers, then the next round she was a teenager with her boyfriend, then the next rotation, newly married, followed by the next round with a baby, and on it went until she was old and reclaiming a memory of her childhood with a final ride. To me it captured the essence of life and the swiftness of our earthly existence. It also made me thankful that our heavenly Father has plans for a more permanent happiness. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reminding us to appreciate every minute with our loved ones, no matter the age.

  8. I love how mine always calls me “mama” even though my husband and I refer to me (when with her) as “mommy”. I’ll miss it when it stops!

  9. It’s funny you wrote about this because I was thinking the other day how both of my kids still call me Mommy, even my ten year old daughter, whose friends all call their mothers Mom or even Ma. Makes my heart skip to still hear it come out of their mouths, but especially hers!

  10. I think all moms must notice this transformation. My 10 yr old son will slip up and say mommy, but I don’t want to bring it to his attention because then he might make a more concerted effort to stop doing it. My 7 yr old daughter says mommy more and does it with pride. Of course, I have no worries with the toddler, yet. It is music to the ears so I’m just savoring it as long as it lasts.

  11. My daughters are 16 and 18 so it’s been a long time since I’ve been called “Mommy”. Reading this post made me realize how much I miss it.

  12. I have decided that mom doesn’t sound right. It sounds bit like a discordant note.
    But if I have to take mom in order to have two potty trained boys, I will take it.

  13. Awww, AM! Sweet sweet sweet!

    Reminds me of my own grown kiddos. While they usually call me “mom”, they do slip purposefully into “momma” often. Tender moments for sure!

    I would bet you will zig zag across the boy/baby line for many years to come.

  14. Interesting comments. What I picked up on, along with the change of name, was that he seemed to think YOU were in need of protection amid the dangers of the parking lot. A sure sign he’s growing up.

  15. Beautifully written.

    I too have become “Mom,” but every once in a while, my boy slips and calls me “Mama.” Like you, it is a moment that I savor.

  16. My 3-year-old, the one who calls me “Sweetie,” calls his daddy “Uncle Doug” because that’s what how he hears his cousins refer to my husband. And my father is usually “Grandpa,” but sometimes “Gary,” which flows so casually from his little mouth (“Yeah, Gary taught me that”) that it cracks me up. I am still “Mama” to my 1-year-old and just thankful that at least I’m not “Auntie Andrea” to my oldest! He called me “Mom” for a while when he was two and I grieved, but it didn’t last!

  17. My 13 year old son “accidentally” called me mommy the other night when I got home from work. I pretended not to notice. He laughed right after the word came out of his mouth. Then said mommy again in a joking tone.

    I look at him and I can’t believe how tall, handsome, intelligent and annoying he has become. I am so proud and concerned, so overjoyed and annoyed by him. It is truly overwhelming being a parent and yet I wouldn’t trade one single second for the world. I absolutely love being someone’s mom. It is so powerful to realize that God has entrusted me with two of his precious children, to raise, love, protect and teach.

    I hope that Sean’s mommy has a great day. 🙂

  18. Oh yeah, and my 35-year-old husband called his father “Daddy” the other day, and his ever-loving wife teased him unmercifully about it. Perhaps I should rethink my perspective.

  19. I enjoy reading your blog every morning…yeah, I’m a lurker, sigh. You have such a way with words, expressing things I wish I could express. Thank you for sharing!

  20. My 34 year old daughter calls me Mama, my 25 year old son calls me Mom and my 21 year old, when he calls me anything, is either Mom or Mama. My grandkids call me Grandma Margie except for one. She has named me Gremmie. Why, I don’t know. But I love it so I just take it with a smile.

  21. I had a co-worker whose highschool sons still called her mommy. I’m sorry but it sounded a little wierd. My sons (20 & 26) call me mom, pronounced “mum”, and my daughter (24) calls me just about anything to get my attention. I must say I too miss the mommy endearment but alas… “a man shall leave, and a woman cleave.”

    Love you AM

  22. I recently had my heart stop when my 3 yr old said “mom” instead of mommy. I don’t know where he heard “mom’ from. His older sisters age 26,22 & 19 call me mommy or mama. I don’t want to be a mom, I want to be a mommy. 🙁

    Mom, Mommy, Mama, Mum, Ma — it’s all good. Enjoy and treasure each season of your motherhood. ~ AM

  23. I can remember with my first child the time when she was about 18 months and some kid called said about her to somebody else…..”Alice’s mom”. That aged me a few years real fast.

  24. Mom, Mother, Mommy, Mama…I get it all from my 2 girlies, 4 & 2. Very much dependent on the situation and the tone of voice, especially with the older one 😉 Maybe it’s different with girls. My mom was Mama and Mommy well into my teens, albeit it was done more with affection and teasing than seriousness.

  25. Oh, I don’t know about that. Both my kids criss-cross that line regularly and at 41 years old, I still call my mom ‘Mommy’ from time to time. Also ‘Mom’, ‘mama’, ‘Mamasita’ and frequently, since I’m a native NYer, ‘Ma’. But you know what? Because of the love behind it, they all mean “Mommy”.

    Now my husband on the other hand reminds the kids every time they say dad that it’s Daaaddddyyyy. I wish him well.

    Be blessed.

  26. I was never “mommy”, always “mama”. Now that my boy is 8, it’s almost always “mom” But, you know, we still cross that line, back and forth between very small and growing up. I never want to push my boy back in time but, as you said, it’s nice to visit once in a while. Last night, we were talking about funny ways he has said certain words over the years and I realized….he says all of those words correctly now! When did that happen? Oh, yeah, on the way to the “other side” of the line.

  27. At 46, I still call my mother “Mommy”. So do most of my siblings. My brother has always called her “Ma” and probably always will. And of course, Daddy is still “Daddy”.

    My 13 year old son mostly calls me “Mom”, but I still get a “Mommy” every now and again. But you are right, when they make that change it is a definite moment in time.

  28. My mother wants her grandchildren to call her “Grandmother” instead of “Grandma,” so that’s what they do. I try to always call her “Mother” instead of “Mom” because I think “mother” sounds more respectful. However, my sister calls her “Mom,” and of course loves and respects her just as much.
    I do miss those Mommy days from my grown kids. It is a sweet, sweet time, and you wrote about it so wonderfully.

  29. lOL….to the one whos son calls her sweetie….
    when my 5 year old was just talking a little, we went to wal mart with my husband one afternoon…Chris is prone to focus on things and not realize your talking to him…and so I will often say something to him and use a lower tone of voice and call him honey, trying 3or more times to get his attention before loudly saying his name…

    so we were looking @ the electric cars and Keifer was trying to get his dads attention…it was daddy…dadddy….honey ….honey….KLISS

    and we went round and round with the kids for about a year because they couldnt understand why their cousin got an uncle Chris and they had to call him Daddy…and their argument was but we never got an uncle Chris…

    I would say i am most often called Mama, but its actually my preference anyway so that works for us…

  30. What a wonderful and sweet post. I have also noticed that even my almost adult kids have moments when they slip back into those earlier habits – and I treasure it any time it happens.

  31. The Offspring is five, and he’s right on that line between Mommy and Mom, between needy and independent, between little kid and boy. It’s bittersweet, especially, I think for parents of one: each milestone is all at once the first and the last.

  32. My youngest is turning two today. He sometimes calls me “Mom” because my older kids call me that. I always hope that it doesn’t stick any time soon. I want to be Mama and Mommy for a little longer.

  33. Once in awhile, when my 15 year old is feeling endearing, he will call me “mama”. Can’t remember the last time someone called me mommy – so good that you noted that moment. Mine is lost to me. So, does this mean that at some point this blog will be called “Antique Mom”?

  34. My little boy of 14 and I had a discussion on the way home from church tonight about the fact that he doesn’t like to talk to me anymore. I do hear a loud MOM several times a day, usually to come do his bidding. At least he said it wasn’t just me, he just didn’t like to talk and his voice is so deep now. I miss the little boy!

    I’ve left you a little something over at my blog tonight.

  35. I’m extremely aware of the mom vs. mommy situation; my older child, 5 calls me mom most of the time. If she wants something she I’m “mommy”. But I’m exclusively “Mama” to my 2YO. I’m grateful to my older daughter to help me be aware of this, so that I will cherish for as long as I can.

  36. My oldest calls me Mother, which I don’t care for. He’s dating a woman who is older than I am. Now when she called me Mom, well, there were some ruffled feathers. She brought her grandson out here and told him I was gr-grandma. That just did not make my day. I’m only 47! My other kids call me, Mom, Mommy, or Mama. I’m Mee-maw to my oldest granddaughter, Maw to her brothers and Mam-maw to the other 6.

  37. My son used to call me mommy but now it’s mama. I prefer mommy but I’ll take that over Mom. I still call my 70 year old father, “daddy” and my 65 yr old mother, “mommy”. They will always be my mommy and daddy, no matter how old I get.

    I do remember in high school and college the remarks I got from my friends when they heard me call my parents those names.

  38. I was thinking about this today. I remember being in college and getting really sick, like border-line admitted to the hospital sick. Dr. agreed to let me go home for the weekend, but if I hadn’t shown improvement by Monday he was admitting me. Bad case of bronchitis moving to pneumonia. Anyway, I remember being on the phone w/my mom & crying to her that “I wanted my Mommy. Cause it doesn’t matter how old you are, when you’re sick you want your Mama to come take care of you.” I knew she liked hearing that, even though I wouldn’t hear of her making the 3 hr drive to come take care of me. All I was doing was sleeping.

    I still call my dad, Daddy-O. A little nick-name I gave him during my teenage years.

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