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My oldest boy Ethan has my heart strings looped around his fingers. His smile lifts me on the worst of days. He is always moving fast and full throttle no matter what he does, but he has this sincere kindness to him that gives me hope that I am raising the kind of person who will care enough to change the world. 

He has always been a momma’s boy. He has always loved to snuggle me when he first wakes up. He loves to be outside so he can run and climb. He has always been my pal. He has also never been able to really verbally communicate with me until very recently. 

I’ve written about the challenge words have been in our home, and now I want to share some celebration through them. 

As odd as it sounds, Ethan has gained much more verbal and non-verbal communication skills than he’s ever had in his whole life, and in that, I finally feel like I’m getting to know my son. 

That’s even hard to type. My sweet friend Becca said I’ve always known his needs in a way only a mom could, and she’s right. The difference think I’ve settled on is that now I’m getting to know his heart. 

That’s huge. That’s changed his affection toward us and others around him. Just to see him wave AND say, “Hi” makes me more proud of him than I could be of anything I’ll ever accomplish myself. 

As he communicates and connects more, I see he has a great sense of humor, and really cares about those around him. If his brother cries, he’ll ask, “Are you okay?” He’ll bring him a toy or kiss his head. 

That. That may seem small, but it’s the biggest, brightest spot in our world because it brings with it hope. Hope that as we continue on this journey with him, we will get to know him more and more. Every night when I pray for him, I pray for God to give him words. I always tell him that I can’t wait to hear what he has to say. 

I have known parents who view their children as an extension of themselves. They see them as something to shine up and show off in their accomplishments or to hide away in their challenges. Those challenges are not a reflection of failure in you that you should be ashamed of, but they are an opportunity to be there for your child in a way that’s not about you. They will never forget how you supported or advocated for them, but they will also always know if you are embarrassed or ashamed of them because of any difference. 

Before Ethan was ever born, we prayed and prayed so many things for him. This is the verse that inspired his name, written by Ethan the Ezrahite:

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.” Psalm 89:1-2

I have hope more and more each day for this. Words are really how you get to know someone, and through that their hearts are revealed. 

Every single bit of progress in his speech development feels like unfolding and revealing something beautiful that’s been tucked away tightly. Every new word shows us a bit more who Ethan is, and who he is becoming. 

As I get to know him, I am filled with gratitude and awash with new love and a depth of feeling that’s beyond words that doesn’t have to have description. For today, just resting in that is beautiful, and I am thankful.