Motherhood – A Reflection of My Younger Self
“I just want him to talk.”
I heard these words recently from a parent in one of my schools, a young mom whose four-year-old son attends an Early Childhood Education program. I see her often as she drops off and picks up her son. In her eyes, I catch a glimpse of my younger self—scared, tormented by doubts, struck with grief and uncertainty about my son’s future.
Today he is almost 16. He still does not “talk,” not in the conventional way, not with words I longed to hear for so long. Yet, he communicates with the help of sign language and communication app. He speaks volumes through his actions, body language, gestures and emotions I learned to read so well. It took time to “learn” my son’s powerful voice. I am convinced that the young mom standing in front of me is on her way to learn her son’s voice too, regardless of whether he will use words or other means to express himself.
I want to assure the mom standing in front of me that her son, like my son, will find his voice. I want to tell her that there are other means such as sign language and communication apps—but I stop myself. She is not ready to hear that yet. Not today, not at this moment.
I look into her eyes, full of tears, uncertainty, and fear of what the future holds. I see the reflection of my younger self. I embrace her and hold her tight with her young son standing next to us. He has that look of wonder about him and wisdom in his eyes, the same look I see in my son’s eyes. In his silence, he speaks volumes and clings on to his mom with all the love and strength he got in his little body.
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We embrace for what feels like an eternity. She then looks at me with that pleading question in her eyes, wanting reassurance that her little boy will speak some day. I know she is not ready yet to hear that he might not. I want to tell her that we will find a way for him to communicate, that she is not alone, that we will figure it out. I stop myself for I see my younger self and know she is not ready to hear these words. Not today.
She smiles through her tears and walks away, clutching her son’s small hand, with that look of love and hope in her eyes. I know I will see her again. We will talk and find a way through that maze of fear and uncertainty. I will share things she can do, but not today, not now.
I will be there and continue to meet her where she is.
Ewa Omahen, Ph.D., is a resident of Novi, Michigan, and a mother of a 15-year-old son with autism, Patrick, who attends Northville Public Schools. He uses a communication app and sign language to communicate. Ewa works as a psychologist for the Walled Lake Consolidated Schools. She is an avid advocate for all “differently-abled” children. Patrick and the students she works with continue to be sources of hope and inspiration.
This article was featured in Issue 78 – Back to School Success