The cheers and expressions of joy could probably be heard for a mile. The tears welling in my eyes could not stop from streaming down my smiling face. The joy in my heart was overflowing. My soul was bursting with pride.
Multiple times throughout the course of Mother’s Day weekend, Caroline clearly said (as she signed it) “Mama”. Selfishly, this is the most important word; I could ever hear Caroline utter. She has said “Mama” before but each time it was an isolated incident and one that would not repeated for months on end.
(Tonight, I asked her to tell Gideon “Mama” and she went up to him and did the sign for Mama on his face while saying it…talk about adorable. In case you were wondering Gideon didn’t enjoy it as much as I did.)
I know how hard Caroline and her teachers and therapists have worked to ensure that Caroline can say “Mama” consistently. This has been an effort that has included therapists and teachers across three states and countless hours of practice.
Every time, I hear Caroline say “Mama” my heart melts. In contrast when my nearly year old son says “Mama” I am pleased and happy but the joy is not nearly the same as when Caroline puts those sounds together.
I am Caroline’s go-to person, when she wants anything she asks “Mama” for it. For years, I have taken Caroline to appointment after appointment and always shared the primary speech goal is for Caroline to say “Mama”. I infuse humor to the request but the sentiment is very heartfelt.
Caroline and I share a special bond, a bond that is different from the one I share with my other children. And for me, Caroline being able to clearly say “Mama” is one way of knowing that our bond is special to her as well.
Being a special needs mom is not easy. The highs and are so much higher and the lows are lower than can be described. The emotional rollercoaster of raising a child who does everything on her on timetable and in her own way is both rewarding and challenging. We never know when or if a milestone will be achieved. While her future is bright because she is such a tenacious, hardworking little lady it is also uncertain because she is mostly nonverbal and has major sensory processing issues.
Caroline is intelligent, personable and diligent these qualities will take her so far in life. But she also has major challenges that she deals on a daily basis – challenges that took her until she was nearly seven years old to be able to consistently say “Mama” – and even now she has not said it spontaneously.
Needless to say, Caroline, her teachers and therapists gave me the best Mother’s Day present I could ever hope for – the opportunity to hear my daughter say “Momma” with her own voice.