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The first “series” I ever wrote was about my kids and their struggle (and our struggle) with having expressive language delays. For anyone out there who has faced additional challenges with their kids, whatever that looks like, you know how world shattering and devastating and downright hard that can be. But hope.

Hope abounds. Even in the struggle, hope is not lost. Hope brings with it new opportunities to look at where you’ve been and to be thankful for where you are.

My children are amazing. I love them so much. When I think about them, their verbal struggles aren’t even close to the top of the list of what I think makes them who they are. Even when I think about the struggle, my focus always lands on how strong they are and how hard they work. If I think about anything negative, I usually think about me. Where I am not always patient (even with the just day to day kid stuff), where I fail to see what they are trying to communicate and how frustrating that can be for all of us, and how impatient I can be in just wanting their progress to happen right now. I just want to give them everything and make it all okay in an instant. Mommas want to fix. We want to make it all alright right now. It hurts to see our babies struggle with tying a shoe or falling off a bike, and we want to make it all better right now. We would turn ourselves inside out to give them that- to make them instantly better.

That’s not how our story has gone, but that doesn’t eliminate all the beautiful hope in it. It has been a process that has taken time, but in some ways, I feel like once the progress really took off, we’ve never looked back and things began to happen more quickly.

Today, Ethan sings songs! What that does for my heart, I can’t begin to describe. To hear him sing just lifts a place in me. He tells me he loves me. That. Each time he does, those moments become some of the best in my life. He is communicating socially more and more, and he is positively thriving at school. He has won the hearts of his teachers a million times over. Gymnastics is his jam, and he is able to show so much focus and is following directions like never before. I am so proud of my pal.

Lauren’s progress also inspires new hope in me as well. When I think about where we started in devastation after those horrible gymnastics classes (see Words: Part One), I can’t speak enough about how grateful I am for where she is today. She is scoring off the charts in every academic area, she is communicating her thoughts and feelings, she has developed an amazing sense of humor, she is making friends, she is growing in independence, and she mastered every kindergarten concept before Christmas break. She is an excellent student, and she is also excellent to the kids in her class. SHE IS COMMUNICATING AT THE SAME LEVEL AS HER PEERS HER AGE! She shows them such love and empathy.

When I re-read the first post I wrote about all of this today as it popped I my Facebook memories, I wept out of being thankful. I wept because my children are living, breathing miracles who are filled with such raw tenacity, I am inspired by them and their courage.

It takes courage to do the work they’ve done to make the progress they have. It takes people caring and loving and being in it with us. You know who you are, and you will always be a part of our story. It takes parents who know they won’t always get it right never giving up on them. We are in it with them. We are for them, and we love them all the time.

We have so much to be thankful for in our sweet little family. That gratitude inspires more and more hope in us all them time. That hope lights the path that we will continue walking on the way to helping our kids become whoever they are meant to be. I can’t wait to see where we all end up, and no matter what that place is, I can’t wait to get there- together.