I talk a lot. I think it is likely the thing that drives my husband most crazy about me. I always need to talk about ‘it’ – whatever ‘it’ is.
I have a master’s degree in communications, for goodness sake. I spent a decade in PR and non-profit development building relationships that I maintain even today. As the legend goes, I talked enough for my little sister when she was a baby that she just pointed and expected for me to say it for her.
I am curious about people and want to know more about their stories. I love a reason to ask someone questions.
Don’t ever tell me a secret because I can’t keep a thought in my head. I can’t help it. It’s like my brain is producing so many thoughts all day long that I have to get rid of some and make room for more.
I talk to the kids all day and narrate my every move. I have a giant roll of paper that I tear sheets off of to hang on the wall and its full of my ideas. There are usually sticky notes everywhere with my thoughts on display. I use a dry erase marker to write things I thought of and don’t want to forget on my bathroom mirror after I get out of the shower. There are no less than four notebooks in my house, purse and car that I write in when there is no person there to share with.
We took all three kids to the pediatrician yesterday. The younger two were scheduled for wellness checks and all three of them were getting flu shots.
“Alright, everything looks great, Mom and Dad. Do you have any other concerns?” the doctor asked.
“I do, actually,” I said, feeling a lump in my throat start to swell and tears start to form in my eyes. “When will she start talking?
“I mean, she is working on learning sign language at school and can communicate with us some, but she just gets so frustrated when she can’t tell us what she wants.”
I have been watching her for months try to communicate her ideas, concerns or ways she thinks she can do it better with us. We just aren’t getting it and she gets so upset.
At least one night a week, she has an epic meltdown where she is all covered in tears and snot and holds her breath until she can’t stand it anymore because she is trying to tell us something. It takes pulling her into her dimly lit room to rock in the rocking chair for an hour to calm her down.
I don’t mind taking the time to snuggle with her, I actually enjoy the one-on-one time. When she is calm, she makes requests and I sing songs while she signs the words. I get some of the biggest glimpses of relief when she relaxes and knows that I am trying to help.
But I wish she didn’t have this obstacle. I, literally, can’t imagine what she is going through and it would personally be one of my worst nightmares.
“I just want her to talk. It is really important to me,” I told her doctor, fighting not to cry in my facemask.
I know that she is on her own timetable. I know that she has been working so hard to learn how to walk and that kids can focus on mastering one skill at a time when they are little and their brains are absorbing so much. I also feel guilty for wanting more from her when she is doing her very best.
I got an email from her teacher last week that said, in part, “It feels like lightbulbs are turning on for her and she is giving it all she’s got! We are so proud of your girl!” I printed it out and hung it on my wall. It makes me cry every time I look at it.
It is so hard, in this life, to see the progress because of all of the struggle. Always there are ideas in my head comparing her to other kids or comparing myself to other moms. I second guess and doubt every move I make with her. There are sleepless nights and daily there are new fears about the future.
“You can’t properly worry about Ellie because you don’t know her future, Heather,” my therapist reassured me. “What if you’re just wasting your time and she surpasses all of your expectations?”
A couple of times a month, my laptop and I sit in the car in the front yard and I meet with her through teletherapy. Last night when I came inside from our appointment, my husband told me to “watch this.”
He was holding Ellie. He took my car keys and rolled them up in the bottom hem of Ellie’s shirt. He put one hand out to the side and said, “Ellie, where is it?”
“Where is it?” she said back, clear as day, arms out and palms up like a teacup spout with a sneaky smile.
“I thought you might like that,” Ben said to me with a wink.