Masthead header

Category Archives: speech-language pathology

The Sweet Is Never As Sweet Without The Sour

This marks week three of Divine In The Daily’s 5-week guest post series titled Special Mamas! Every Wednesday in May, we’re honoring real-life mamas who have big hearts and stand bold and courageous in their unique mothering roles.

Two weeks ago, Jennifer Camp, blogger at You Are My Girls and mother of three from Northern California, kicked off our series with a guest post titled When Mothers Cry Rescue.

Last week, Tamara, mother of seven, was honored with a family photo session and beautiful tribute from her husband and children in this post!

This week, we continue the series with a guest post from the mama of a five-year-old boy who has autism. I met her three years ago and have followed her closely online since. Being a speech-language pathologist, I greatly admire the authenticity and bravery she demonstrates as she faces daily joys and challenges of raising a son with autism. I invited this mama to guest post anonymously because I wanted to grant her complete freedom to open her heart and share her journey without fear.

This mama once held a blog that was converted to a simple Facebook page called MNAutismMom. Click “Like” if you would like to follow her journey. If you have questions or comments for this mama, you are more than welcome to place a comment at the end of this blog post.

IN THE BEGINNING

Before I had my first and only son, I imagined that a baby was just one more thing on my “to-do” list.

After the exhausting activity of labor, I started to devour my baby books like I was cramming for some sort of exam. I was freaking out. I realized I didn’t know how to change a diaper and didn’t have a clue about a baby’s feeding schedule. I was happy to be naïve up until the day he was born, but I was unprepared for the test on June 13, 2007.

Of course, raising a child is not a test, but a non-stop life journey that has completely altered my world which has been just as hard as it has been good. And now I sound like a cliché. But, that’s the thing. He is a hard child to raise. Life is hard at times. My life had its challenges before this little boy entered the picture, but nothing other than my teaching degree prepared me for a moderately, classic form of autism in my son. And my teaching degree only helped me see the signs of his autism…nothing more.

Unlike most sane people, I did worry about autism before he was born (though I am learning that might not be as unusual as I thought, especially amongst teachers). I remember discussing these concerns with my mother and my friends.

My son didn’t hit any of his milestones on time and by 12 months I was pretty much convinced, but didn’t want to utter the word “autism” to the doctors in case I was wrong, in case I was inserting ideas into their head wrongly, in case I would be written off.

By 22 months, I had a team of people that created a 12+ page document confirming my fears and my Google searches. I cried. I grieved for years and my husband threw up on the side of Highway 494 the day we were told the diagnosis.

Sometimes people want to know how I knew so early. They don’t understand how I got him a diagnosis so early in life, but it’s not that hard to see when your child makes limited eye contact, finds light more interesting than people and isn’t doing most of what a typical child would do.

It really wasn’t hard to see his autism, but the people who didn’t want to see it, didn’t. Every single relationship was damaged and is still in repair. No one says anything appropriate to a special needs parent. My skin, so thin, my emotions transparent. I couldn’t hide my feelings. It was all I could think about initially.

It took me years to figure out that most people will not be able to handle conversations about autism in general (especially when you are grieving and initially finding out). For example, a neighbor would tell me how “normal” his behaviors were and I wouldn’t know to respond. I would read potty training books and my dad would tell me how I was worrying unnecessarily and that I had to learn how to just enjoy my baby. And my relationship with my sister was ultimately one of the most strained because she was always my soft place to fall before my child was born. I eventually just stopped talking to her about him if I could, resorting to only telling her the progress – you know, the good stuff and even that somehow hurt me. Her response? Something about how one day he might get to live in a group home. Wow, thanks.

Just writing this down makes me tear up. There are no social guidelines for telling people about a child’s autism diagnosis. Maybe they are in their own shock and can’t recognize the pain of the parent’s. And that’s the thing, it’s my pain, not my child’s. He doesn’t know he has autism. The pain is all in me. I don’t expect the world to know what to say, how to react, but I had to learn that the hard way.

Sometimes it’s actually the people you don’t know that will be your soft place. The applied behavior analysts (ABA), speech, occupational and physical therapists will be the most supportive, loving and understanding people in your adult life. And no one tells you that all of those other people you thought you knew, will have no idea what to say or do. There will be no casseroles for the grieving mothers and fathers. There will be little said that is appropriate or comforting.

And then, one day, you forgive them. The anger flows over and you realize they didn’t know better.

You learn who to trust.

You learn who to confront and when.

You learn who to let go of completely and move on.

Because he is YOUR CHILD. The one you have been called to love and nurture.

Words do hurt, but the child that people can’t see has special needs, WILL show them over time who he is and is not. And you learn to stop defending your point of view because unfortunately you no longer have to. 

5-YEARS-OLD

In a month, my baby turns 6. This is the first birthday that isn’t making me cringe. The other birthdays were so painful. A reminder of all the milestones he couldn’t accomplish yet. All of the hard work we had left ahead. The fear of the future. What does it all mean?

And as he leaves 5 behind, it was the hardest year to date. I realized at some point, that when he was first diagnosed it was about me. Completely selfish…my life and yes, his too. Autism = language and social deficits, distinct interest in very particular things that override the ability to work on and learn other skills.

When he was little he would hang on me. There was no independence. He recently stopped being fed by adults. He would fall apart, scream, and cry if he wasn’t getting what he wanted. Realize this isn’t a spoiled child, but a child that can’t regulate feelings, can’t communicate. I babied him and it wasn’t until the last 6 months that he started doing more and more on his own. Just this week, I observed him urinate without an adult standing over him and he’s even going without some prompting! It’s been 6 years of having a very dependent child. The years of not being able to make dinner or turn my back on him have just recently become past memories. Speech has finally crept in. He can now answer choice questions “do you want red or blue?” He pretends to talk on the phone and jabbers away despite it not being actual words yet. He amazes me.

But there is still another side we are currently dealing with on a daily basis, which is 5-years-old, the year of self-injury. Two plus years ago it started as a head nod. It wasn’t typical, but it wasn’t a problem either. Last spring it started in the car. He just decided he didn’t like our car rides to and from school and he started to head whip forward, causing a cracking sound.

The doctors didn’t agree – stim, tic? Does it matter? Does he need meds? We started to take him to a chiropractor for self-inflicted whiplash. We started him on medicine for kids with Tourettes, which didn’t work; we even changed his day therapy program to lessen the car ride.

Whiplash eventually led to face slapping, which intensified to the point the school was demanding we get additional supports at home. We were in over our head. “You need more for him, we can’t help you the way you need,” they said. The speech therapist initiated feeding therapy and cancelled it within a month due to his behaviors. It was out of control.

And right when it was over my ability to cope, I started to unravel. No control. Fears overwhelmed me. What happens to your child if you can’t deal?  Christmas was painful. He continually hit himself. No logic. I got a nice chunk of time off for winter and it was horrible. Neurology appointments, another EEG, no answers. How do we live with a child that hits himself over and over again? It’s not painful to watch. It’s unbearable.

It all stopped on January 1.

Two months respite.

And then it was back.

And it got worse, but different. He got a cold or flu. It wasn’t a big deal as far as anyone could observe. It lasted 2 weeks. He lost 7-8 lbs. I thought watching my baby whip his head as hard as he could was intense, but the days he stopped eating were some of the hardest in my life. My husband and I snap at each other hard during these days. Everything holds together by a string. I go to work to forget my life at home is harder than I can handle. I email his school daily to see what approaches, interventions are working or are not. I would take him to the doctor 5 times in 2 weeks. No answers. Blood drawn, hospitalization around the corner, his little skeletal system showing so clearly. Could my son starve himself to death? Should I still be going into work? How long will this last?

And then it just hit me. Stop trying to give him his normal, preferred foods and get him kid approved junk food. And so I did. I gave him the choice of anything. He chose chocolate pudding and I fed him. I was victorious. He moved on to a Pop Tart, Little Debbie cakes, cookies, cake, and ice cream. He didn’t stop. He tried nearly half of the $100 worth of junk food I had just acquired from Target. After the second food, he was finally feeding himself without spitting or injuring himself.

And ever since then, he gained the weight back and we just remember those days as the hardest to date. Luckily for us, not a continuous issue. Just a strange detour on the journey.

WHAT I KNOW

I am relieved, but it’s not over. This new chapter of being 6-years-old begins with a new slew of therapists helping us outside of his normal therapy hours. His head bobbing has turned into a fist-to-chin; he is basically punching himself. His little chin is red and irritated from constant hitting. His knuckles are red too.

It’s painful to watch, and the complexity of this behavior is beyond a regular ole’ parent’s ability. I will make the sacrifices I need to within my marriage, career and social life if that means he can have a safe and happy life.

Autism has many lessons that are just as positive as they are hard. Not only did I learn early in his life that we only have so much control, but we also can’t take things for granted. The biggest lesson learned is how some children never learn to take care of themselves, dependent on others for bathroom needs, dressing and learning basic academic skills. Despite being a teacher, I have learned about a world of individuals I would have frankly not known to exist.

As I learned about these things, the fear grew. Would my child ever talk to us? Have friends? Make his own meals? Graduate from diapers? What if he lives with me forever? Have a job? What school will he go to?

How could I possibly care that my neighbor is going on and on about how her 2-year-old isn’t potty trained when she hasn’t noticed my 5-year-old standing there in a diaper? This is just a small thing. Rude, but forgivable. I want to scream ”BUT HE WILL BE POTTY TRAINED ONE DAY! What if my child never gets out of DIAPERS?”

But, that’s the thing. These things people say to me are just a small part of the bigger picture. I am worried endlessly with a list of what-ifs and those questions burned in my head. But some of the what-ifs and questions have been replaced with beauties I failed at the beginning to know were ahead.

No matter what my son accomplishes, when he accomplishes something I am AMAZED.

I didn’t know that when he first spoke a word it would feel like a MIRACLE. It wouldn’t be kind of cool. It wouldn’t be like – wow, that’s neat. It would feel like my mind was being blown and that it was all going to be ok.

When he walked up to the toilet for the first time this week, lifted the seat and urinated on his own without reinforcement or prompting – it was INSANE. There aren’t words for realizing your son might not live his teen and adult years in diapers.

When he learned how to navigate the You Tube app and play with a preferred toy without an adult it was AMAZING.

The day he stopped asking people to feed him (recently) was UNBELIEVABLE.

My son didn’t willingly crawl until he was 4. His first words were ABC and I love you. He can take his glasses on and off without help, and shows he understands what we say despite being able to speak conversationally. He calls me mommy, sometimes.

There is nothing on this earth that has ever given me joy like watching my son accomplish goals we wanted for him years ago. The lows may be low. They may be lower than non-special needs parents can comprehend or care to know. But I get a gift on the other side of this parenting journey that some will never understand too. For that, no matter how hard it might get, it sure makes those highs even higher. I do wish I could share what that feels like. And I can’t wait to see what else is in store for the chapters ahead.

I love you sweetheart.

 

Vicki Thunstrom - This was so amazingly beautiful. Thank you for sharing a bit of your life with us. It gives me so much perspective on life. When I am frustrated with my own child and having my own pity party, I pray I will remember you and others and pray for your victories along the way. SO many blessings to you and your family.May 21, 2013 – 3:35 am

MNAutismMom - Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post.May 18, 2013 – 8:09 pm

Heather Shedivy Hodge - Bless your heart! May 16, 2013 – 3:14 am

Nicole Marie Newfield - This is so insightful. Prayers as you continue this journey!May 15, 2013 – 10:47 pm

Meet This Sweet Little Girl

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to a sweet girl I see for speech-language therapy. Although I’m unable to show her face or reveal her name because of privacy laws, something that occurred during our therapy session yesterday holds a bit of truth for us all. I’m so grateful her mom has given me permission to share this story here today.

Psychology notes that we are able to identify dominant personality traits in others when we possess those traits ourselves. If that’s true, then I admit I spotted myself in this little girl from the very start. Confident and bold, loving and  sweet, a very hard worker, loves order, and likes to do things her way. A Type A in the making, her mom and I have agreed! I just love this little girl. Sure we butt heads once in a while, but there’s no doubt we work hard together to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.

So yesterday, when I saw her line up that pile of cards on her lap and get them all just so, in order, I realized once again that our personalities are just as much innate as they are formed. The only truth that makes sense to me when I see a little 4-year-old ordering a pile of cards just so is that she was born that way…she’s an organizer and likes order, and it’s just who she is. There was peace in that observation, an acceptance of myself and that little girl for who we are at our core.

We moved along with the stories on our cards. Moments passed, and before I knew it, this little girl had taken off her boot.

And out from that boot came a construction paper picture!

 A work of art on one side, and her name in big bold letters on the other side. All on a piece of bright red paper.

I asked this little girl, what is a picture doing folded up in her boot? She explained she does this every day! Her teachers say she can only color with crayons, but she uses pencils and crayons. She hides the pictures in her boot so her teachers can’t see.

I look closely at both sides, tell her what beautiful pictures they are, and try to get some more clarity as to why she feels she needs to hide these beautiful pictures in her boots (I know, a little diversion from what you might consider traditional speech therapy, but we were practicing all of our sounds during this whole interaction and she was very proud to share her creation!). She showed me how she folded the picture up all pretty, how she could make it into a bird and fly. Paper wings flapping in the air, “see, it flies!”

Next thing I knew, she said it was time to put it back. She folded it up nicely. I took it and placed it in the back of the boot where her heel would rest, assuming that was the most logical place for a piece of paper in a boot?! “NO,” she said without reservation, “it goes on the bottom!” She put it in the very bottom of the boot, tucked away deep, hidden away nice and flat.

I have yet to discover whether there was truth in her statement that the teachers only allow the children to use crayons, or whether they also allow pencil drawings. But the truth regarding pencils and crayons matters very little as far as I’m concerned.

In fact, what moved me to post this story was the fact that this little girl felt she needed to keep her creation hidden. Clearly so proud. She knew everything about that creation. She knew it could fly and how to fold it perfectly so it would fit in the boot. But why did she need to hide it? Was it simply a fun 4-year-old game of hide and seek? Perhaps. But knowing how intelligent this little girl is, I believe she may have had it hidden for other reasons.

This got me thinking…

How often do we hide away our creations, the gifts we have to offer this world?

Why do we feel the need to hide those beautiful gifts, those beautiful dreams we have for ourselves?

If we know these things are so wonderful, why do we keep them to ourselves, only for others to stumble upon?

What are we doing, as adults, to encourage our children to openly share their creations, their gifts, so others can see?

What are we doing, as adults, to encourage one another to share our gifts?

What good does a gift do if it is hidden away in deep, dark places where nobody can see?

Today, I encourage you. Whether you’re Type A, Type B, or any other through Type Z, take those creations, those gifts out of those boots of yours, and let the world see your greatness!

No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Luke 8:16-17

Amy

Amy B. Pederson - Thank you very much Jennifer. And I am beyond glad to see you are also using your gifts in your new business…so exciting!!!December 17, 2012 – 10:15 pm

Sandy Sandmeyer - And a little child shall lead them. Amazing what we learn from the littlest ones.December 14, 2012 – 6:13 am

Jennifer Johnson - Amy, what a Beautiful Post! Clearly you are sharing your “gift” with all of us. Your gift of kindnes… in words and thoughts. Thank you!December 12, 2012 – 10:29 pm

A Gift for Special Mamas

You are a special mama.

I hear you.

I see you.

I understand you.

I am with you.

That look, I recognize it. I see it. The way you look at your child. Your quiet, wondering eyes tell all. The way pain has settled in. What does this child’s future hold? Will everything be ok?

That voice, I hear it. Your anxiety, your worry, your being on the edge every moment. Your wondering who has the answers. Your wondering who can help me with this child? Your need to know you’re not alone. You’re not alone, that’s what you need to hear.

That feeling, I get it. That others simply don’t understand. They know not what you have been through. They know not what your child needs. They know not how to respond. Their understanding of what your child says and does is limited. Not by their own fault, but by virtue of not being you, not being in your shoes. You take not a single thing for granted when it comes to your child. Embrace that gift. Use it to hear, to see others better, more deeply. Live more fully.

That gut horror of yours, stop overanalyzing it. Did you do something wrong? Too much of this, not enough of that? Could you have done something earlier, something more, something better? Could you have prevented this from happening? Would a different parent have been better for this child? Accept this gift from me. You have done nothing. Your guilt is not warranted. Your gut leads you astray. You are the parent your child needs.

That joy of yours, that pride, I sense it. It comes overflowing in that moment. It takes your breath away. You never thought your child could do that, could be so great, could meet, exceed all your expectations. Believe it. Your child can do anything. Anything is possible. That triumph is yours. That triumph belongs to you and your child.

Because you are great.

You are courageous.

You are strong.

You are an amazing mama.

You can do it.

You can do this.

This is hard, but you are doing it.

You are doing it.

You are a special mama.

And I see you.

May the gift be yours to embrace.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

Amy

Meet Heidi

Today I am pleased to introduce you to Heidi, warm and welcoming, a bright light at just the right time.

As I walked through the exhibit hall that second afternoon of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) convention, I was admittedly uninspired. Maybe my intense continuing education schedule paired with the Georgia inspired box lunch of fried chicken wrap, three bean salad, and blueberry cobbler was the culprit?

Then, I looked up.

A light blue sky with a little bee in my line of sight. And a smiling woman with an orange dress. And a crowd.

Little Bee Speech, the sign said. Apps not a part of my current therapeutic repertoire, I had not even taken a second glance at the other app exhibits. But this? This one was different.

Drawn to the blue skies and the cute little bee and the blonde with the orange dress, I couldn’t help but walk right over. I knew this was something I’d love!

I exclaimed to the woman with the orange dress that I really identified with the exhibit and wanted to hear all about their product. After a warm welcome and introduction to the company, she showed me the app titled Articulation Station Pro. Simple. Adorable. User friendly. Kid friendly. Fun. Real photographs. Adaptable. She took a picture and showed us how the app will soon have an option to add custom photographs and target words.

I was sold! For a while, I’ve had my mind set on purchasing an app to replace my articulation cards. This was the one!

A swarm of others gathered around, so I thanked the woman in orange and moved out of the way to make room for another demonstration.

Just to the right, a man behind the booth. I grabbed a bunch of brochures and verified procedures for purchasing. I asked the man if I could take a couple of the cute ladybug pins from a bowl on the table for my kids, explaining they would expect a souvenir when I arrived back home. Responding with his contagious smile, he so kindly asked how many kids I had and what age, and added his kids like them too. I couldn’t help but envision me and my husband chatting the night away with these people at dinner.

Before turning the corner, I grabbed every business card I could. A husband and wife team! Heidi Hanks, M.S., CCC-SLP, speech-language pathologist, creator of the Articulation Station Pro, and blogger at Mommy Speech Therapy. Chris Hanks, her husband and Little Bee Speech User Experience Designer. And this woman in orange, I do not know, but she was simply lovely.

Around the corner was Heidi, busy speaking with customers. When it was my turn, I approached, explained who I was, shared that I find their exhibit to be a light in this place, and asked if I could feature her on my blog. Heidi warmly thanked me and agreed, clearly full of gratitude. I planned to take a picture of Heidi, or Heidi with her husband and the woman with the orange dress, but instead, she invited me to be in the picture and found someone to take it. Point, click, we had our shot. A moment in the light had been expressed and captured.

As the convention came to a close, I thought of my encounter with Heidi, her husband, and the woman in the orange dress, and I was overflowing with gratitude. Before I knew it, three days’ worth of moments in the light started rushing in…

Maya Angelou, her voice, her prose, the way words flow right out of her. Inspiration as a great, she had to let us know we are a rainbow in someone’s cloud.

A woman presenting a poster reminded me of Rachel from Glee. The sparkle in her eye, her energy, her exuberance, her depth, her striving to be who she was created to be. The words on her poster came to life as she explained. An expressed mutual understanding of material, that mysterious chemistry of friendship you feel when you just know someone could become a great friend under different circumstances. Later, recognition of one another at a restaurant, smiles and a wave in passing.

Ami Klin, Ph.D., renowned researcher in autism, Director of Marcus Autism Center, his work narrowed to a mere two hour session. Writing furiously, grasping each word, documenting for later review, nearly in tears twice at the stunning findings of his research and the very real possibility of a medical device for screening infants for autism someday. Hope for families, hope for children. Phenomenal was the word.

Overby, Flipsen, Rvachew and another. I found myself in this group of five in close at a poster session, “three here” Overby exclaimed outloud “are experts,” as she realized the group in front of her. (I, the least of these, and NOT one of the experts!) A semi-circle of thought around this research on childhood apraxia of speech. I happened upon it, and once I knew the circle I was in, soaked up the opportunity to listen, participate without reservation. Dignity and honor was expressed through eye contact and ears open to my clinical observations within the framework of the research.

David Ingram, well known and regarded child speech and language professor presents his research in progress. Practical, interesting. Clearly a down to earth, genuine, and gentle man, I approached with a comment after the seminar. I had barely begun, and he quietly flipped my name badge over in an effort to discover who I was. A kind gesture of genuine acknowledgement from a man who didn’t have to care at that moment.

First American to orbit earth, Senator John Glenn lovingly introduced his wife Annie. Arm in arm, a wink, a tease, true honor in 69 years of marriage. A reminder that despite all of mans’ greatest achievements, what matters most is love.

And congresswoman Gabrielle (Gabby) Giffords, recipient of ASHA’s prestigious Annie Glenn Award, hand waving in front of her, restricted motion but unbridled emotion, exuding gratitude to an audience of therapists in ovation. A precious, indescribable moment experienced uniquely by those present. A brief heart-felt speech that we all supposed required weeks of practice, and her husband Mark Kelly held her from behind to ensure she didn’t fall as she leaned over the edge of the stage to greet and thank her therapists in the front row. A woman choosing hope. gratitude.

All lights. All rainbows in the clouds.

Heidi, Chris, and that woman with the orange dress – A warm and welcoming place.

The others – Authenticity. Connection. Hope. Dignity. Acknowledgement. Love. Gratitude.

All these things we welcome.

All these things we give.

Our greatness lies not in our personal or professional accomplishments and achievements. Rather, our greatness lies in our ability to lay down our lives in service to others in honor of our mighty God. Grateful we are able to give. Grateful for all we have been given.

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31

Amy

Jason & Angie - Hi Heidi,

We love the website you have for teaching speech and all the resources there. We noticed the apps are currently just for apple. Is there a chance that they might become available for the Kindle (or Android)?

Thanks again for all of the great resources.June 29, 2014 – 5:10 pm

Amy Pederson - Thank you Monica. :) November 30, 2012 – 9:04 pm

Monica Anderson Palmer - I’m continually amazed by your heart & devotion…the clients you work with are truly blessed to have you!November 30, 2012 – 5:40 pm

Amy - Hi Summer! Thanks for stopping by. It was such a pleasure to meet you that day. Thank you for being so warm, so welcoming, so lovely. I very much enjoyed the moments I had with you, and appreciate your enthusiasm about the app. Summer…what a fitting name for you. :) Blessings to you.November 30, 2012 – 9:53 am

Summer Endsley - Amy…you are the sweetest! I am the woman in the orange dress..Summer Endsley. I am Chris’s sister and Heidi’s sister in law! It was such a JOY to talk with you. I loved your energy and excitement over Articulation Station! You were one of the Bright Lights for us in the convention! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!November 22, 2012 – 5:01 pm

Meet Me At This Moment: Who Am I?

Today, I wonder a little deeper. Who am I?

Months ago when I was about to launch the blog, a wiser man asked if I was an author. I thought the question was a little odd and answered quickly with no, explaining I’ve simply felt called to write for years and am finally taking the next step by starting the blog. His question stuck with me, and there have been days I’ve felt compelled to contact this man and ask what he meant. If he meant am I an author, published and all? Of course not, definitely not. Not even close. If he meant in my heart of hearts, am I an author? Do I draft sentences and paragraphs in my head all day long, am I an author? My dream, maybe my call to be an author? To move hearts with my writing? Then yes, I suppose the answer could be yes. Maybe my answer should have been yes. Am I an author because I put my thoughts to the screen? Am I am author because I daydream of being a published one some day?

Last night, my daughter was in tears even before I went to give her a good-bye hug. Today, the day I was to leave for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association convention. I don’t leave often, and she’s an emotional girl, so she just couldn’t get over the fact I was leaving for 3 1/2 days. We hugged and hugged, and I reminded her I would only be gone a few days and there would be lots of people here to love her and have fun with while I was gone. But the tears still came. Daddy calmed her down and talked her to sleep after my final hug in bed, tears still streaming when I left the room. This morning, she peered in the room in the wee hours while I was still getting ready. Tears streamed again. More hugs. And later, more tears and more hugs. This tearing of my heart. The author in me writing the moments on my heart, in my mind. The mom in me feeling guilty for leaving a crying little one so sad. The business owner and speech-language pathologist in me rationalizing why I had to go. Yes, mom I certainly am. And today, I have extra confirmation I am a loved mom, that is deeply missed by at least one little daughter.

This morning in the airport, a young man sat down in the little work cubicle across from me. He struck up conversation about his life, how he helps his dad with the catering business, how he had a hard summer and they are taking a vacation to get away from it all. Dad showed up and first thing he said to me was “Are you a writer?” This struck me as odd. Why in the world would this man think I was a writer? Sitting with my laptop wasn’t anything unique in this sea of work stations with tabletops and outlets designed for electronic productivity. Finding his question still out of place, and for a moment wondering how to answer (Um, am I a writer? Yes or no? I have a blog, but I’m not a professional writer or author? So, I guess no?), I said no, I’m a speech-language pathologist. We engaged in some conversation about my practice and specialities I have been trying to focus on the past couple of years – apraxia and down syndrome. He commented I was calm, quite possibly one of the last words I’d use to describe myself! Maybe it was just that he and his son made me feel calm? He showed me pictures of their mobile catering unit; I was humbled knowing this stranger shared with me something so dear to his heart.

Later near my destination, far from the rest of the speech-language pathologists, at Jimmy John’s a few blocks from my hotel for the night, a woman looked up and smiled at me from several booths down. My first reaction…why are you smiling at me? Is there something I did to engage you that I forgot about? Do I know you somehow? Her name was Bertha, beautiful, vibrant, lovely with smooth dark skin. She approached, asking me if I was here for the convention. I asked why she was so far off the beaten path. She had hotel troubles and just found a new one while she was sitting here. She’s been coming to the convention every year since 1965, this might be her last year at the convention. She couldn’t be more friendly and welcoming, and I love this woman up until we depart ways. And I wonder again…who am I? To a complete stranger, my presence was positive enough from four booths down that she smiled and felt confident she could approach. I appreciate that, especially finding out later in conversation she was a seasoned woman of much grace.

And later yet at the hotel, a call from a mom. She’s looking for speech-language therapy for her two-year-old son and she’s heard I’m one of the “gurus” in apraxia in the area, and I’m floored. Yes, this. This I have been dreaming for my practice. That one day, I’ll be able to specialized solely on childhood apraxia of speech and down syndrome, the things I love most of all. Although I don’t consider myself a “guru” of ANY sort, this is certainly confirmation I’m on the right path to attaining those dreams of specialization. Insurance will prohibit us from working together, but it was wonderful conversation and I have no doubts it would have been a joy and honor to serve this mom and her son.

So who am I? Well, for now my “professional” roles are three. Mom, blogger (author? writer?), and speech-language pathologist. For now, I marry all three. That special mom role, of course, I will never surrender. I play that role on the days I’m working and on the days I’m not. But what about the other two? For now, I leave them placed in God’s hands. He has the path planned, the path cleared in advance of my arrival, the path prepared just for me. He created me, you, uniquely, specially, to do something He called only me to do. The not knowing, the being unsure is hard some days, but I will wait.

So tonight, I’ll read all the blog posts and tweets from the Compassion International Compassion Bloggers trip to Peru, and I’ll feel without a doubt my heart is there, I dream of that someday. And tomorrow, when I walk into that convention center full of speech-language pathologists, I’ll realize as I do every year that I fit just right into this profession. And Saturday night, I’ll be welcomed with love by my husband and my three little children, and I will feel with all confidence that this is perfect home too.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Amy

Amy - Thank you mom. I did have a good time, I’m so sorry you had to deal with the “mess” at home!!!!November 30, 2012 – 9:57 am

Amy - Thank you very much Mike!November 30, 2012 – 9:56 am

Michael Eder - Very impressive, Amy. Reading this has confirmed that the world of education (and children) is in caring and capable hands. SNovember 15, 2012 – 11:49 pm

Carol Femling - Love the blog! Love you, my beautiful girl! Have FUN on your trip. You deserve a break. Love and Hugs!November 15, 2012 – 3:48 am

Seth Pederson - Mom, Blogger, Speech-Language Pathologist… and Wife! And what a beautiful, loving, sensitive wife you are! Have fun on your trip — enjoy the wine, the food and friends. Oh, and enjoy the conference!November 15, 2012 – 3:24 am

Amy Pederson - Thanks Jess! :) November 15, 2012 – 2:03 am

Jessica Revak Milkes - Enjoy your trip Amy!! You’re kids are in great hands and if course you have a fleet of neighbors to help out if need be… :) November 15, 2012 – 1:11 am

Monica - That post was so awesome! I’ll be pondering & lingering on this a long while. God is good & He is author of our lives!November 14, 2012 – 8:39 pm