That’s just about how much time I’ve spent with my kids since each of their births.
All the time… give or take an hour here and there.
So, you’d imagine my surprise when my first-born started making words and the first noise out of his mouth was… yup, you guessed it, “Dada.” Thinking back on it now I wasn’t even surprised. Disappointed? Oh yes. A bit heartbroken? Undeniably. For months, I’d been waiting to hear this baby’s sweet little voice call for me, “Mama…” I could hear it echoing in my head, magical words, as he validated the time I’d spent doting on him with 2 little syllables. But no, Mama was not to be… not for a long while.
I shoved my insult and disappointment aside, “After all, he’s just a baby. He’s not doing this on purpose,” I thought.
Of course, my husband was elated. “That’s right buddy, I’m Dada.” I let him revel in his babble victory. Watching his face beam with pride, knowing that eventually, when the Mama finally came from my infants lips it would be so worth the wait.
As days passed, I started noticing that Dada didn’t mean, “I love you, Daddy.” Quite the opposite, Dada meant everything and anything.
Reasons my baby is yelling Dada:
The bag boy at the supermarket talked to him while bagging our groceries.
The sun hit his eyes in that special way that he could still see.
I gave him mashed banana.
He spotted me, his Mama, after waking up from his nap.
He’s about to get a bottle.
Someone picks him up.
He’s found the tag on a toy.
He’s about to eat dirt, a hairball, or plastic.
So this got me wondering. Which came first the Dada? Or the Dad?
I could just imagine a Neanderthal family: sitting in their cave, the fire toasting some dead animal and their caveman baby opens his mouth to let the first sign of verbal communication fly… “Dada,” he exclaims! And that’s when the patriarch of the family stands over the fire, bangs his fist on his chest and declares, “Me, Dada!”
Sounds about right.
As I had a second child, and then I third, I watched them all babble the same words first… everything started with Dada. My caveman theory left me feeling less empty. That, and the fact that the Dada babble seemed to mean everything and nothing all at the same time. But when each child finally looked at me with their chubby little faces, light dancing in their eyes, an out stretched hand as they shrieked, “Mama!!!” I knew they meant it. I knew they meant me.
Now? I’d currently pay good money to go 20 seconds without hearing someone yell, “Mom, Mom, MOM!”