This is my sweet Jonah Bear.
He is by far the most wonderful blessing I have ever received. He is bright and funny and so very sweet in the most amazing of ways. He also happens to be very late in speaking. At the present time, he is probably about a year behind children his age in terms of language maturity.
I have started and stopped this particular post for a number of months as it has been difficult to pen the words describing the ebbs and flows of this journey helping Jonah to find his voice. There have been times when my tears have actually tainted the clarity of the computer screen. But I have decided to finish this post because years from now, when this trial has made its way to virtual irrelevancy, I will want to remember exactly what this time in my life felt like and what the Lord taught me through my son.
Most households that I know with two-year-olds are filled with constant chatter. Just recently I drove a neighbor's child to Chik-Fil-A with Jonah and actually counted the number of times she asked me if she could order apple juice. 19 times in 5 miles. But my household has never been like that. Mine is filled with laughter and the occasional tantrum, but until about four months ago, my days were filled mostly with the sound of my own voice talking to Jonah and my evenings at home with Todd were filled mostly with adult conversation, while Jonah played quietly with his toys at our feet.
Recently my friend, Amy, wrote a post about her son telling his father that he wished each day were either Saturday or Sunday so he could spend it with him. I would be less than truthful if I said I did not look forward to the day when Jonah will use words to express this type of emotion. I am sure the day that he tells me that he loves me will be forever etched into my heart. Oh what a day that will be.
And the truth is, I could write pages and pages about all of the negative attributes that surfaced in me as those months passed by with no verbal communication - the constant worry about possible hearing problems until tubes were placed in his ears last October and a subsequent test confirmed otherwise; the over-focusing on what he could not do rather than the perspective of what he could; and the placing of misguided emphasis on the comments of well-meaning friends, rather than trusting my own instincts with regards to his capabilities. But I don't want to do that now. Instead, I choose to remember the many blessings God has bestowed as a result of this pilgrimage of sorts, and I know I will be forever different because of them. The following are just a few of a long list of many.
A renewed sense of thankfulness for so many things. I am thankful for being chosen as his mother. Of all of the mothers on this earth, God believed I was the only one for Jonah, and what an incredible privilege it is to have him entrusted in my care. I am thankful for each and every way Jonah has learned to express affection. Oh, Jonah's kisses! When he gives me kisses, he really gives me kisses, looking me straight in the eye before throwing his arms around my neck and smooshing his face against mine, making sure to emphasize the "muah" sound before pulling away with a giggle. The way he now quietly approaches me and whispers "tickle" when he wants me to rub his back. The way he always has a kiss and a pat on the head for baby Luke. The way he crawls into my bed for snuggles, making sure his little body is as close to mine as possible. Yes, I am thankful for each and every one of those moments where he shows love, and I am reminded that loving is an action and that the deeds of love are often more important than the words.
An incorrigible diligence. Because of Jonah, I have scoured books and materials searching for new ways to help him use words. Through the use of a simple chalkboard, I have discovered these last few months, that Jonah knows his letters, numbers, shapes and colors. I have learned he can read and spell hundreds of words. I am fascinated and inspired daily to be inventive in our play and continually seek new avenues of learning.
A reconditioned ability to listen. I have found that those times when I have stopped myself from filling the days with unnecessary chatter, are the very same times when Jonah has provided me with the most insight pertaining to his innermost thoughts. The other day as I was brushing my hair, I thought I heard Jonah say "siete." I said, "Jonah, are you counting in Spanish?" He smiled and proceeded to count from one to ten on his fingers in perfect Spanish. "... a time to keep silence..." Ecc 3:1-8
A patient heart. I have struggled with patience since I was a child and I can think of no better way to acquire patience than having a late-talking child. Through Jonah, I am learning to relish each and every accomplishment and stifle the wistful feelings of ungratefulness and the wishing away of any sort of deficit.
Finally and most simply - for the blessing of trust. I have given this over to God and I am grateful to know that Jonah is on his timeline and not mine and that everything in his precious life will unfold according to His plan.
It occurred to me the other day that even if Jonah's speech were to remain a year behind children his age for the rest of his life, when is 37, he will speak as if he is only 36. I am thinking I am okay with this, and that for now, I will spend my days loving him in such a way that there are no words to describe it. You are beyond words, my sweet boy. Beyond words.