I derive a large part of my identity from being a mother of young children. I've lived so long in a child-proofed house that I regard electrical outlets without safety plugs as unattractive and slightly menacing. I've just recently graduated from the phase when I quantified a child's age in months, not years.
My kids -- like your kids -- are growing up. Three months ago, our youngest daughter turned two. She's full of talking, yet still short on having many clear words. She calls me Mama. My four-year-old calls me Mommy. My seven-year-old calls me Mom.
It normally sounds like Mom-Mom-Mom-Mom-Mom-Mom, hey Mom, can I tell you what? But that's beside the point.
Being Mom is different than being Mama. It's wonderful -- and it's a title that I'll proudly wear for all the years of my life. I just hope to never forget the sound of those little voices when they said their first Mama's.
As I was sorting through my daughters' closets last week, I realized that there's only once piece of clothing still in circulation that resembles anything baby-like. It's this dress, a dress that makes the tiny wearer look more like a doll than a real child.
My older two girls wore this dress, and now my youngest prances in it. I watch as its billowy fabric moves in synchronization as the wind blows through her never-yet-been-cut wild hair.
Oh, little ones. I'll always be your mom. And I'll always treasure these years of having been your mama.