How sweet! After Richard Engel‘s 3-year-old son, Henry, called him “Dada” for the first time, he wrote the sweetest essay about how it felt to hear his son with “special needs” acknowledge him as his father.

“His physical and mental development aren’t on pace with other children. So when I got the Dada from him, I went a little wild,” the journalist, 45, wrote in an essay published on Today. “To parents with typically developing children, a little Dada may not seem like a big deal. But for me it was a validation, an acknowledgement that he’s in there, knows me, knows that his mother and I are forces for good in his life, and above all, that he loves us.”

Richard explained that even though his son has tried to say “Dada” before, it didn’t quite impact him the same way it did when Henry fully pronounced the word. “Henry had made the sound before. ‘Da-Da,’ or ‘Ga-Da,’ and even vaguely made it about me, when I was in the room with him or holding him close to my face,” he said. “But this time it was stronger and more decisive. Dada was a single word and he was clearly looking at me, talking to me, addressing me.”

The NBC News chief foreign correspondent, who has been married to Mary Forrest since 2015, said his son is “probably not going to walk, probably not going to speak, probably not going to have any mental capacity beyond the level of a 2-year-old,” he knows that he will cherish any moment that he can get with his son.

“My world lit up,” he said about his son acknowledging him. “It was something I’d been waiting for for years!” Don’t worry, Mary, we’re sure you’re going to be getting a “Mama” very soon! “I hope one day she’ll just get a ‘Hi Mama, it’s good to see you,’ like my Dada,” Richard gushed. “She deserves it. She really does.”