As I was walking up our front steps tonight with our oldest son, 6 year old Cody, beaming brightly as we returned home from his soccer game…my darling hubby greeted us at the door, with our waving baby girl smiling brightly in his arms, & our darling Evy at his side…and there IT was again: that bittersweet sting in my heart. It came to attempt to spoil my happiness. That sting first came around just a few days ago, buzzing around me like an annoying fly (more like a wasp, with a razor sharp stinger), in West Edmonton Mall–and apparently it followed me all the way back home to Manitoba.
It’s the sting that you feel when your barely 11 month old baby girl can do things, and communicate with you in ways, that your sweet 3 year old boy still cannot. (And maybe will not…ever.)
As we walked through West Ed Mall just a few days ago, heading back to our vehicle following a family-fun-filled afternoon at their huge water-park, Lydia began waving at people. Totally randomly! Anyone, whether they looked her way or not, received one of her adorable, brand new little waves. (She rotates her tiny hand around at the wrist, almost in circles, with her big blue eyes shining like diamonds, and it’s absolutely adorable if I do say so myself!!) It was the cutest thing!!….and yet, I felt a pang of pain in my heart. A voice inside my head said “I wonder if Evrett will ever wave like that?”. The voice stole a piece of my happiness that day; in a moment when I should have had the motherly luxury of enjoying my baby girl’s first REAL waves, I was worrying about Evy instead.
I felt so ashamed of myself.
Upon returning home, within only a day or 2, sweet Miss Lydia had yet ANOTHER surprise for us: she started WALKING!!! As Scott arrived home for lunch yesterday, she did it! I sat with her in the rocking chair, facing the ottoman on which Scott often seats himself to remove his steel-toed work boots, and she squirmed to get down. (Something she does very often, so I didn’t think much of it) Instead of squawking to be immediately picked back up, as she has been driving us insane by doing for WEEKS now, instead she walked steadily…3 steps over to her daddy!! Amazing. Our baby girl is not such a tiny baby anymore…toddler-hood is now right around the corner! Our hearts melted as we witnessed this huge leap on her journey…
<Evy was quite wobbly on his little legs for MONTHS when he began walking…and he didn’t begin walking until he was nearly 16 months old…I should have noticed those things…>
The voice shattered a tiny fragment of my happiness yet again. How could I let it do that? Here, our baby girl is doing amazing things…and I’m ruining the moment. Once again, that heavy sense of shame settled over me.
Lydia is beginning to call “mama” and “dada” when she wants something from her crib. Evrett has never done so…
Lydia is starting to repeat more than one word at a time…tiny sentences such as “hi dada”…. I still struggle sometimes to be %100 certain that Evrett is saying real words…
Lydia is successfully using a straw sippy cup, eating new foods with us at mealtimes, and communicating more strongly as each day passes…My poor bug…. she is going to surpass him in many ways, probably even sooner than I had thought…
That damned voice!!
And the shame….man oh man… the shame of worrying about Bug when I should be rejoicing over Lydia. The twisted shame of accidentally comparing 2 of my precious angels when I never intended to do so. I love each one of them so deeply, so wholly…
shame. shame. SHAME.
I asked Scott as we drove back to our hotel in Edmonton the other day: “Does it ever hurt you inside that Lydia can do things that Evy still cannot?”. His answer was very centered, truly calm, and crystal clear with zero hesitation: “Nope”. This was bewildering to me!! How could he NOT be more worried? And then he explained that what had scared him most of all was the black hole of time (which was MONTHS long!) in which our darling Bug barely seemed to be present with us. He would be in the room…but also be light-years away. He barely ever cared about our attention, and eye contact was extremely scarce. It was as if we had lost our darling sunshine. THAT was Scott’s biggest fear–that our angel would never care about our presence, that he wouldn’t NEED our attention, wouldn’t NEED our love. Since our medical journey and various therapies began in October, it is CRYSTAL CLEAR that is not the case at all. Our sweet Bug adores us, he shows us all the time, in his own wonderful ways. He seeks out our attention, he goofs around just to see us giggle with him, he speaks to us (even if we can’t always understand just yet), he plays with us, he hugs & kisses us, snuggles right up in our arms…and his gorgeous blue eyes speak 1001 words.
Now THAT was a fresh perspective. And it took the dreaded voice in my head down numerous notches. I asked Scott to lovingly remind me of this whenever I begin to get caught up in my worry, and he lovingly agreed to do so 🙂
As we continued our journey across provinces back home, we made a stop in Saskatoon to visit with one of my very best friends on this whole planet, her husband, & their 3 wonderful little girls. The men took the 4 oldest kiddos down to the water-slides in our hotel that evening, as Chels & I visited with the babies in our room. (Thank you gentlemen!! That was a much needed break!) We had an absolutely wonderful evening full of catching up, children’s laughter, stories, and making plans for future visits…what DIDN’T dawn on me until the next morning was how grateful I truly was: Evrett may not be consistently waving at people randomly in malls as Lydia does, but he CAN go swimming. He CAN go down water-slides, and man does he love them!!! He CAN run around with Chelsea & Adam’s little ones. He CAN walk around West Edmonton Mall with us. Not every child is so blessed. In fact, as we were entering the huge water-park in Edmonton, another child was also on his way in. He wasn’t struggling to get away from his parents’ hand-grip as Evrett was. He wasn’t nearly in tears because he wanted to break free and run in to the water so badly that he could barely handle it…none of that. Instead, he was in a wheelchair. His caregiver pushed him in to the water-park, and he watched from the safety of the seated areas. That sweet boy watched…he watched while I had the PRIVILEGE of taking my physically healthy, capable Evrett in to various areas of that gigantic water-park.
Another FRESH perspective; that wicked voice was slowly becoming a whisper..slithering away like a cockroach to hide from the blinding rays of the sunshine.
I was blessed enough to be picked up that morning by my darling friend, and taken to meet her amazing parents (people whom I have wanted to meet for a very long time now. How blessed I am that I finally got to!!). Her mother’s hugs were just as welcoming and warm as I knew they would be, and her dad’s conversation flowed much as I pictured it would. They are the most lovely people…which makes sense, as they raised the most amazing daughter (love you, Chels). As we all sat in their living room, chatting over Sunday morning coffees, with me feeling like I had been a member of the family forever, her father said something that shook me to my core…in a wonderful way. He asked me “How is your boy?”…and I tried my hardest to give him a comprehensive yet not too drawn-on account of what the latest news was. When I finished my update, with something along the lines of the fact that his verbal speech is the farthest behind of all areas so far, and I was worried that I wasn’t doing enough effective things to help him…he said something I never expected, something I hadn’t thought of at all: “at least if he just never speaks, he can learn sign language one day instead! That’s not so bad, really!” (admittedly, I’m paraphrasing that part…as he actually said much more than that, but that was the key point that stuck with me!!).
STOMP. The voice was crushed, like the cockroach that it was. (Yup, that’s a Kevin O’Leary reference!!) Yet another fresh perspective. Chels’s dad was so right!! Even though Evy IS learning to speak, if it were to somehow happen that particular skill never fully developed for him, he absolutely could sign instead!! Lack of verbal speech would never have to mean that his life wouldn’t be full of happiness and opportunities. Either way, whether verbal speech becomes a strong-point for Evy or not, his life is going to be AMAZING. I did know this…somewhere deep inside myself, I really did know this…but his words brought it back to the surface with brilliant clarity.
And here’s another fresh perspective–this one coming straight from my smiling heart tonight: maybe it’s OK, even GOOD, that Lydia may advance past Evrett in areas of development. Maybe she is meant to. Maybe our strong-willed, firecracker of a girl is meant to balance out our easy-going Evrett. To walk alongside him, and be a partner of his in this world.
How beautiful is that? At least, I sure think it is.
(P.S. Goodbye cockroach, you won’t be missed.)