If I could keep track, I'm pretty sure I would count that my daughter, S, age 2 years and 9 months, says the phrase, "Hey Mama" an average of 3.8 million times per day. "Hey Mama, can I have one of these nice blue balls on my birthday?" "Hey Mama, maybe tomorrow I can wear a princess dress and go to Cinderella's Castle." "Hey Mama, I wish I had long ears like Olivia." You get the idea.
In fact, "Hey Mama" begins most of S's spoken sentences these days, sometimes even when she's talking to Dada, go figure. It's like she's on autopilot. And of course, if I don't respond right away, "Hey Mama" will repeat itself louder and louder until one of three things happens: 1) I give in, interrupting whatever I was doing or saying to give her my full, undivided attention, 2) she starts crying because I'm ignoring her, or 3) "Hey Mama" reaches a frenzied pitch until her head explodes. Ok, so usually it's option #s 1 or 2, but I wonder sometimes if #3 is close behind.
Most days, I have a good amount of patience for these rapid-fire inquiries and musings. Heck, sometimes I even impress myself with my patience. "Yeah S?" and "Uh huh?" are probably my most frequently uttered phrases in return to my little chatterbox daughter.
But occasionally, I need a little breather. Occasionally, like Friday.
That day, S hit the ground running even harder than usual. The "Hey Mama"s began before 6:30 a.m. and only picked up speed from there. By 9 a.m., she was at full tilt, and I was desperate for a change of scenery, so I scooped her up into the car for a trip to IKEA. But silly me, IKEA is like crack for a 2-year-old, and somewhere between dipping french toast sticks in the restaurant and jumping on one of the beds in the children's department, I think S went a little crazy. At one point, she was twirling around one of the tiny model bedrooms, singing something about dragons at the top of her lungs while I stared at her in disbelief.
As much as I love a good IKEA trip, taking one with a crazy preschooler is not ideal. So I grabbed the baskets I had come there for, bribed S with some new hooded bath towels, and got the hell out of dodge. On the way home, S actually napped for a bit, giving me a little time to decompress before returning home.
But then she picked up where she left off, and the "Hey Mama" litany began to break me down. At one point, I was on the phone with the window shade guy, trying to schedule an appointment for him to come and measure our windows, and all I could hear was "Hey Mama." So I admit, I did it: I raised my voice and yelled a little. I told her to knock it off. I told her she needed to wait and to be patient and then Mama would talk to her.
And of course, she cried. And of course, I felt awful.
I don't know, is it possible to teach a 2-year-old patience? I certainly hope so--because she really could use some. But in the meantime, I'm going to work on taking deep breaths when I've heard one too many "Hey Mamas." And I'm going to try to appreciate that S wants to share every little thought with me, and that to her, I'm the most interesting person to talk to in the world.
When you think about it, that's really not a bad title to hold.