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The First “I Love You”

It was a normal Saturday morning, kids were just getting up and I went for the morning pee. I was on the toilet (door open of course, because with a 6 year old and a 3.5 year old I forfeited peeing privacy a long time ago) and two little arms snaked around my waist and the cutest little voice said “I love you mommy”. Tears sprang to my eyes. Three and a half years. It took my sweet little girl three and a half years to say those words to me and I often wondered if I would ever hear them.

My three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Madeleine has a severe speech and language delay. She has always found ways of communicating with me and telling me what she wants…lots of jibber jabber, half words only I could understand, pointing and physically showing me and her dad. I always spoke to her as if she could understand what I was saying, even though I wasn’t always sure she could. There was just always a wall between us. So, we had her assessed by a speech pathologist. She said it perfectly: ”Madeleine has lots to say, but only she knows what she’s saying”. She recommended we enroll Maddie in an early entrance program that specializes in children with delays, so we did. They began working with her 3 mornings a week.

It’s a long process…her learning words and forming sentences. Her understanding what you’re saying to her or asking her. One that some days can be very frustrating and simple processes turn into full on meltdowns- sometimes for her, sometimes for me. It’s hard seeing friends with kids her age or younger saying and doing things she’s nowhere near. It’s hard when strangers ask her questions and she looks at them blankly and then they look at me like “what’s wrong with her”. On good days I tell myself, “all kids develop differently” and “she will get there”. On bad days I have to fight the mom guilt. The “I did something wrong” and “this is somehow my fault” and “I should have done ____ differently”.

But on that Saturday morning, even though it wasn’t an ideal location, when she looked at me with her big blue eyes and said “I love you mommy” it all became worth it. “I love you too baby girl” I whispered back. And in that moment I knew that we got this and it’s all gonna be ok.

My name is Mara Needham. I am 32 year old stay at home mom to Grayson (6) and Madeleine (3.5) in Peace River, AB. I have been married to my husband Sean for almost 8 years. I have never written a blog of any kind before, but up until I became a mom I wrote commercials for the local radio station. Find me on FacebookTwitter , & Instagram