I am the world’s biggest and most obnoxious know-it-all. Whether its politics, random movie quotes, or the capital of Wyoming (which I most definitely did not just Google), I am essentially an adult-size toddler yelling “I know best!!!” in the middle of Target. I hear I’m a joy to be married to.
But, motherhood, Oy. It was a rain on my knowledge parade. If you’ve ever become a mom, you know a few things to be true:
- There is no experience more enjoyable than a kid-free car ride. (Unless you enjoy the theme songs to Daniel Tiger, in which case you are some kind of mom-unicorn hybrid. Go back to crafting things from your recycling bin, would you?)
- You do not know everything. In fact, you know pretty much nothing. Even if you read every book on breastfeeding, baby wearing, making your own baby food, and baby massage, you may still end up crying with your baby in a blood and milk stained robe wondering if you’re really up to this.
Rest assured, mama, you are. No one is better suited for this task than you. God literally selected you out of every woman on this earth and said, “This one. She’s got what it takes. Send her the colicky newborn / sleepless infant / stubborn toddler. She can do it!”
When Finn turned one, I waited to hear him speak. A few things came. “Mama” slid out of his mouth like he’d always known how to say it. One day, he just looked (gazed, really) at me and said it. I don’t remember when that happened. 11 months? A year? I don’t know. I should have written it down in his baby book but I was busy crying my eyes out with pure joy. All I know is that in that moment, and in every moment he’s said it since, I’ve been ready to give him my kidney, a million dollars, and anything else he wants or needs. Except that sugary Mickey Mouse juice that’s bad for him. Sorry, kiddo. I’m the worst.
At 13 months, he yelled “BALL” at the top of his lungs. This became his new favorite word. It was encouraging to know that he was beginning to speak, except no other words, or even sounds, were coming out of his mouth. I’d read enough to know that it wasn’t alarming, but I was concerned. At his 15 month well check, I asked the pediatrician if I should have him evaluated, and she gave me a referral, despite the fact that it was on the early side for us to worry. At 16 months, our long awaited Early Intervention appointment came. They watched Finn play, socialize, laugh, and do puzzles. They marveled at how funny he was for someone who doesn’t speak, and how patient and well-mannered he is. The nicest thing you can say to a mom is something kind about her children. Really, she doesn’t care if you think she’s funny, smart, or more beautiful than Angelina Jolie. But, tell her that her child is remarkable? You’ll make her day.
So, finally, they sat down with me and went over where he was excelling and where skills were lacking. Unconcerned about his behavioral and social skills, they pretty much ruled out needing further psychological evaluation. They also were confident that he had an above-average grasp of receptive language (meaning he understands a lot). But, they did say they were very concerned about his expressive speech. “Very concerned” is the last thing you want to hear about your child. I did a lot of Googling, and basically attempted to get a masters degree in speech pathology overnight. I was repeating words at him non-stop, and he would stare at me like the crazy person I was.
Finn has now been attending speech therapy for about six weeks, and while he’s not reciting Shakespeare just yet, I’m finding he’s initiating (mouthing) words. That’s a start.
If you know me, you know I can be self-depricating about my efforts as a mom. I laugh that I’m not a super chef, or that I don’t make my own baby food, or that I’m not a part of any fancy schmancy mom groups. But, I will brag for just a second. I’m a good mom. I care too much about the sugar content in their foods, I rear-face their car seats, I breastfeed, I read to them, sing to them, dance with them, love on them. I spend a lot of time talking about the things I don’t do – like craft with my recyclables – but maybe that’s a defense mechanism because I worry that I’m not doing enough. I honestly thought Finn’s speech delay was my fault. I didn’t have the right answer for this. I did everything I was told, and yet he still wasn’t talking. It was my fault! I had a second baby. I spend too much time working. I should have been more proactive. Ultimately, none of that was true, but it was easier to blame myself than to admit that there was no reason.
I say all this because I now know how isolating and scary it is to not know the answer. To sit in a doctor’s appointment and meet with specialists and not be sure that you’re doing all the right things. Finn’s diagnosis is still unclear, and they continue to run tests and examine. For now, the goal is just to continue to evaluate him and help him in whatever way we can.
Because there’s one thing I do know, with absolute certainty, and it’s that Finn – in his happy, silly, glory – was hand picked for me.
I can’t wait to hear all he has to say.
But, just look at him. Doesn’t his face say everything?