Yesterday, when I arrived at day care to pick Pumpkin up, she crawled towards me with a big smile on her face, as usual. When she reached me, she clearly said "mama". I got a big smile on my face, and picked her up. She put her arms around my neck, grabbed my hair, and said "mama" again.
It was the first time that I actually believed she knew what she was saying when she made that "mama" sound. In fact, it was the first time I thought she said any actual word. She has been saying "mamamamamamama" for quite a while, and "dadadadadada" for even longer. But it always sounded like babbling to me. This time was different. One of the other mothers in the room clearly thought this was a real word, too, because she said to her (much younger baby) "when are you going to call me Mama?"
The happy feelings from this moment (her first real word was "Mama"? How cool is that?) served me well through a rather difficult solo evening. She was a bit cranky and had a short attention span. First she wanted to dance to music, then she wanted to read, then she wanted a cracker (which I took to mean she wanted dinner, although I suspect she really just wanted a lot of crackers). She wouldn't play while I ate dinner. She kept pulling on my leg and whining, and arching her back and flopping around when I tried to set her down with a toy. I finally got her to play with her push walker toy, but she had zero patience for it when she drove it into a wall or piece of furniture and it stopped moving. She'd screech until I came and redirected it so that she could move again. It wasn't a peaceful dinner.
Her crankiness continued to bathtime, which is normally one of her favorite times of the day. She screeched at me and bit my finger when I tried to brush her teeth. She cried when I undressed her and fussed at me when I tried to keep her sitting down in her tub. She wanted to stand up and beat on the built in shelf on the wall. She was finally happy playing with a big plastic measuring cup- she liked to stuff one of her beloved rubber duckies into the cup. She probably could have played happily for hours. Certainly, she didn't approve of my decision to take her out and dry her off, although she did calm down a bit after a few verses of "Five Little Ducks" (actually, the first two verses over and over, since those are all I know). She likes it when I sing "quack, quack, quack".
I read her several stories, and then put on the music to rock her to the drowsy pre-sleep stage in which we like to put her down. This didn't go so well. I got her pretty drowsy, but she didn't stay that way when I put her down. After an hour of her sitting or standing up in the crib, and me lowering her back down, I finally caved and picked her up again and rocked her all the way to sleep. She was asleep within 5 minutes. I am beginning to think that I don't care if she goes down awake or not- or at least not until we're out of whatever developmental spurt is causing all of this angst.
Anyway, you can imagine how pleased I was when Hubby came home, and refused to agree that "Mama" was her first word. But it was late, so I let it pass, thinking maybe she'd give a repeat performance today. She did not say anything when I picked her up from day care. She just gave me her usual big grin and what we euphemistically call "love pats" (she leans back and flaps her arms in front of her, slapping the chest and/or face of the adult who holds her, until she decides that is enough, and leans in for a big hug). I was a bit disappointed, but quickly forgot all about it during my hellish commute home. I'd picked her up a little late due to a work function, and paid the price in traffic. Hubby beat me home, so took Pumpkin while I got changed.
When I came back into the living room, she clearly reached for me and said "Mama." However, even this didn't convince my doubting Hubby. I think he's just jealous that she's not really saying "Dada" yet. I think she's experimenting with it, but he's a bit more reserved than I am, and is just not reacting with enough glee to cement the association.
So I say we have a first word to log in our baby book. He disagrees. But I keep the baby book, so I think I'm going to win this one.