This is a picture of you and me just a few hours after you were born. I knew that having you, my second child, my first girl, was going to change my life.
But the truth is, Sophie, I had no idea.
I had no idea you would cry all night and not let anyone but your mother hold you after the sun went down. I had no idea you would foil every date night your dad and I tried to take for the first 8 months of your life with your crazy screaming for mommy that not even your grandparents could handle.
I had no idea what exhaustion was, or what beauty was, even though I had thought myself well-acquainted with both.
I had no idea your hair would stand on end for six months straight until it finally got long and heavy enough to lay down!
I had NO idea you would stubbornly refuse to give up breastfeeding until you were two years old.
I had no idea you would defy me at every available opportunity. I had no idea how much value I had placed on having a “good” child. (Your older brother made things a little too easy for me to become a smug parent, it turns out.)
I had no idea how much I could LOVE a little girl who exasperated me so.
And Sophie, I had no idea, as you approached three years of age, that you would be developmentally delayed. You see, I was just pretty clueless about a lot of things. I thought that you would, like your brother, whiz through all your developmental milestones without a hitch.
Oh, my dear, I had no idea.
I had no idea that even after I had you in speech therapy for a few months, your preschool teacher would pull me aside a month after school started and say, “We need to talk.”
I had no idea your speech test results would say you were “severely delayed”.
I had no idea you needed occupational therapy as well. I had no idea your hand muscles were so weak. Sophie, I had no idea.
I was your mother, and I had no idea.
I had no idea, my darling, because you had blinded me with all the things you were SO, SO good at. You weren’t even four, and you could read so many words! Letters, numbers, shapes, colors—those were all so elementary to you! I had no idea because of the sweet, funny, sunny way you were at home, that you were barely interacting with your peers.
And I had no idea that your delays would grieve me so terribly. I had no idea I would be SO scared. Terrified, really. I had no idea I would cry and wail and keen and lose my mind in a way I never had before. I. Had. No. Idea.
But, Sophie? Do you know what else I had no idea about?
I had no idea that God would equip me to guide you through your developmental battles. I had no idea that he would bring the right professionals into our lives to get you on the path to kicking butt at life. I had no idea that once you started succeeding, you would take all that STUBBORNESS you’d shown me so many times and use it for GOOD.
I had no idea that even though they told me you’d need 3 to 4 YEARS of therapy, you’d be discharged from speech and OT and your IEP in just 18 months.
I had no idea you’d blow your teachers, therapists, and school psychologists away.
I had no idea you’d go from the girl who screamed and cried every time the song “Happy Birthday” was sung at a party, the girl who wouldn’t interact with peers or adults, the girl who was terrified of being in a crowd, to being the LITERAL life of the party! To being the confident kid who could stroll down the aisle in a huge room crowded with strangers and work that flower girl gig like a BOSS.
Sophie, you are 9 now, and my birthday wish for you is that someday you can TRULY understand what a miracle you are! I hope I can help you recognize The ONE that has MADE you that way. And I think He is already moving in your heart to help you get there…because last year after you sang a solo onstage at your school’s grandparents day in front of a room full of a couple hundred strangers, you said to me:
“Mom, remember how you said that when I was little I was scared of people singing and crowded rooms and of people looking at me?”
“Yes, baby, I remember.”
“Wow. God sure has changed my life.”
Oh, Sophie. God sure HAS changed your life—and mine.
Baby girl, you have no idea.
But one day, you will.
Happy birthday, Sweetheart.