Tomorrow marks 3 years of motherhood for me. Elijah came into the world in true Elijah fashion on November 10, 2013. My labor was only 2 hours, this little boy was in a hurry to get here and hasn’t slowed down since.
Of course you have expectations for you children, and some of those things I think you even take for granted. Age 2 has been challenging for us. I know it’s hard for everyone, terrible two’s right? But Elijah has had some speech delays that have made some things extra hard.
I wrote a post called “My child does not sleep through the night” about our challenges in getting him to sleep and stay asleep awhile ago. I guess what I’m finding out is that he has his own way of doing things. I’m learning to love and embrace the wonderful child that he is, instead of the one I thought I’d have. I’m also just accepting the fact (with bleary eyes), that I haven’t slept more than a few hours at a time since little Liam joined the fam 7 months ago.
We’ve entered into this “world” of therapy, one I just assumed we would never be a part of. You always think it’s someone else’s child. Or that you’d be taking him to gymnastics twice a week, not different clinics. We made the decision to do speech therapy because up until recent weeks, Elijah didn’t have any words. The few he knew, he lost. For awhile, he wouldn’t even attempt to imitate us which frustrating and sad. It took me 3 weeks of trying everything just to get him to stick his tongue out. Our speech therapist said Apraxia, a motor planning problem. He know what he wants to say and do but has a hard time saying it. I’m happy to say he’s come along way in a few months, knows about 25 signs and is finally saying some words and imitating us. But as you can imagine, it hasn’t been without it’s challenges.
We started Occupational Therapy too. All of it has been humbling. Sometimes you wonder what you’ve done wrong. Everyone else’s kids just start talking on their own. Why do we have to work so hard day in and day out just to teach him sounds? And of course lots of people have said their kids didn’t talk until later, I think it’s just hard when you are in it day to day.
And then there’s his legendary energy 😉 It makes me laugh and somedays it makes me want to sleep for a month. We are learning that he requires incredible amounts of sensory input, whether it be jumping, climbing, crashing, throwing, chewing, swinging, etc. You can imagine what this looks like if he’s cooped up inside for any amount of time. Bringing him places is hard sometimes too. A lot of other kids his age are talking in full sentences and sitting in one place doing an activity. Elijah? Well he has things to do, people to see, places to go, and not much to say.
On the worst days we wonder, is it something serious, something with social stigmas. On the best days, is all this therapy really worth it? Won’t he just eventually regulate himself and start talking? Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. I never got to hear him say he was ‘two’ , or hear him say that ‘mommy had a baby in her tummy’, etc. But then I think about Liz. A girl we see at Occupational Therapy. Confined to a wheelchair, unable to control her movements or speak. I see her mom carrying her as my Elijah zooms past her on his own two feet with a smile that lights up the whole place. He’s my gift from God. Its not my place to compare. Something I think I’ll always struggle with.
I almost cried tears of joy the other day when I went to take his picture and he said “CHEESE” with a big grin. All on his own, no prompting. I felt so proud! Maybe that moment wouldn’t have been as special without some of the struggles.
Maybe he isn’t ‘normal’, but maybe the world has enough ‘normal’. Maybe one day I’ll be so happy he didn’t fit the mold. That instead of coloring outside of the lines, he colors on the back of the picture (true story). Sometimes I wish things about him were different, sure, but then, he wouldn’t be him. And I’m completely in love with this little boy. He’s funny and bright and so very loved. Instead of worrying about the unknown future of his development, I want to be excited to learn what he’s good at. I have a sneaking suspicion that this therapy, these delays, are more about teaching us how to love and raise Elijah than to ‘fix’ something that’s wrong with him.
It’s a hard thing to navigate, professional opinions, prayer, input from people who love him and know us, our own gut sense as parents. I think all parents have felt the weight of the responsibility of raising humans. What if I don’t get it right?
What if I overlook my little Liam in this season? What if I miss soaking in how cute and little they are because I’m so worried about the dishes spilling out on the counter? Do I pray enough? Am I good example or just a hot mess?
Can’t be perfect, but I can be present. I can give them 100% of what I have today. I can trust that God has a plan for their life and rejoice that I get to be such a big part of it. I can encourage Eddy, my partner in crime, and bring love and laughter into our home.
Elijah changed my life forever. Liam did it again. Most days I’m exhausted by the end of it, but I think of their faces as I’m falling asleep and I can’t help but smile. And thank Him for mercies new every morning. Not that I’ll get there without seeing one of their faces at least once in the night 😉
This quote says it all today: Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you’d have. It’s about understanding your child is exactly the person they are supposed to be. And, if you’re lucky, they might be the teacher who turns you into the person you’re supposed to be.