Beyond words

During Anya’s first three years of life, I was often unsure how she felt about…well, anything, because she was all but nonverbal and also did not much like being held. Every chance I got, I held her and rocked her and gently kissed her head, because nothing made me happier than cuddling her. But I never knew if she liked it or not. (You’d be amazed how much babies communicate verbally even before they can speak; when that verbal communication is absent, you really feel like you’re talking into the void.) In fact, I assumed she didn’t like it, because she so infrequently allowed me to hold her – even as a newborn. So over time, I snuggled her less. Especially after Kai was born.

Then I noticed her cuddling and kissing her dolls the way I used to cuddle her. And her baby brother, who at times is basically a living doll to her. So I started making time to hold her again. Rock her, kiss her head, and stroke her hair. Turns out she loves that stuff. Her eyes flutter closed in pleasure, and she smiles the sweetest smile. Then she asks me to rub her back or her feet, the way I did when she was a baby.

Though I often question whether or not I am a good mother, you never really get an answer. However, I sometimes get reassuring glimpses.

With Kai, the feedback is immediate, and instantly recognizable. You know what he wants and what he doesn’t because he tells you – with words, gestures, facial expressions. I didn’t have that with Anya, not at first.

She has come such a long way. It’s still hard to understand what she says sometimes, but she’s trying hard now. And while at times her constant questions and chatter overwhelm me (especially when I’m trying to sleep!), it is unbelievably wonderful to finally know what’s going on behind those big gray eyes.


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