"He was slow in learning to talk. 'My parents were so worried,' he later recalled, 'that they consulted a doctor'...He had such difficulty with language that those around him feared he would never learn." (Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson)
...when a baby is born, you count their fingers, their toes. You watch their chest moving up and down, up and down. And you breath a sigh of relief because they are here and they are perfect.
Charlie at about ten hours old.
You have dreams. Small dreams, big dreams. You see pre-school, kindergarten, baseball games, the prom, dropping them off at college, grilling them for their first interview, moving them into their first place, meeting "the" girl, helping them pick out a ring, yourself in a hideous mother-of-the-groom dress, a grandbaby, them dropping you off at the old folks home...
And then those dreams...They start to adjust...You see, Charlie will turn three in April and has never, not once, looked at me and said, "mama." And it makes every thing inside of me hurt.
When I hear a baby's innocent babbling of, "mamamamama" at a restaurant, something inside me hurts. When a friend talks about her daughter reciting the alphabet, something inside me hurts. When someone complains about their child not "shutting up" in the backseat, something inside me hurts.
A few months ago, we were at the store and he spontaneously said, "Hi," to the checkout clerk, who looked at me with pity as my eyes welled up with tears, not sure why I was crying about a toddler's innocent "Hi." It was the very first time I had ever heard him say a word, a real word, unprompted.
He has his own language, his own way of communicating with us. But it is not words. He is receiving speech therapy twice a week, which will increase with his upcoming birthday.
Everyone says, "He will be fine." His pediatrician, his speech pathologist, random people on the street. And you probably will too. But I am his mom and when it's your child, "He will be fine" is not good enough. I want a crystal ball to show me.
He is loved. Oh God he is loved. He is sweet and kind and has eyelashes a grown woman would kill for. And as my friend Sharon said last week, you can see right to the goodness in his heart when he smiles. But I am filled with worry. I worry when someone looks at him sideways in a store when he is talking his language. I worry about how other kids will treat him. Kids are mean. I worry that his life will be too much therapy and not enough fun. I worry that I am doing something wrong, something so so so so wrong and that's why he's not talking.
But most of all, I worry
I don't care if he ever scores a homerun. Or if I never have to wear a hideous mother-of-the-groom dress. I just want him to talk. That's it.
I wrote this post a long time ago and have gone back and forth about whether I wanted to publish it or not. But in the end, I realized that more than anything, this blog is my memory-keeper. Years from now when Charlie is defending his Ph.D or making a speech at his wedding, I want to be able to look back, read this, and say to myself, "He is fine."