As our family wrapped up 2013 I was completely depleted and on the verge of depression. My 2-year-old son wasn’t talking and was showing signs of frustration and aggression. I was sleep deprived from his long recovery following a tonsillectomy. And I had a complete meltdown during his birthday party. Not my best mama moment.
I knew if I didn’t do something differently, 2014 would likely be just as depressing.
I bought a copy of Ann Voskamps book One Thousand Gifts and decided to shift my focus to the many things I had to be thankful for.
Thus started The Gratitude Project; a year of discovering glory in the mundane moments of motherhood.
I counted gifts – 1,100 to be exact – and I noticed the grey clouds begin to lift.
I focused on gratitude for 365 days and then the calendar rolled over to a new year and my son was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (and later Sensory Processing Disorder).
Would gratitude follow me on this new journey?
My son Jackson started speech therapy when he was 18-months-old. At that point he only said one word – mama.
I had heard of Apraxia and questioned if that was the cause of Jackson’s silence. I researched the speech disorder and spoke to a friend whose daughter had been diagnosed with it.
I brought up my concerns with Jackson’s speech therapist, but she didn’t seem to think Apraxia was the problem. After all, he was really too young to diagnose. But I just couldn’t shake the feeling that Apraxia was in our future.
We switched speech therapists and within 6 months she diagnosed Jackson with Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
Instead of falling apart when she said Apraxia, I felt a huge sense of relief.
I saw the purpose behind that year-long focus on gratitude.
I didn’t see Apraxia as a curse; I saw it as a gift.
Gratitude changes your perspective.
I’ve learned when you stop practicing gratitude you become immune to God’s glory all around you.
Childhood Apraxia of Speech has opened my eyes to the miracles I might have missed had my son started talking when he was supposed to.
Each new word is a cause for celebration; a miracle in and of itself.
We don’t take a single word for granted.
I’m thankful that I can be Jackson’s voice until He finds his. That’s why I wrote a children’s book about Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
Jackson Finds His Voice came to me as we drove home from speech therapy one morning. Writing a children’s book wasn’t even on my mind. But the words hit me full force and I knew I had to write them down.
So I did; while Jackson napped that day.
I had to write about a little boy on a journey to find his voice.
Jackson Finds His Voice is a tool my son can use to share his story, it’s a way to raise awareness about CAS, and it’s my prayer that the book will give a voice to all the children who are still searching for theirs.
As I wrote the words I imagined sitting in Jackson’s pre-K classroom. I was reading the story so others could better understand my son.
I cried during the writing process.
Because our story is hard.
Because our story is beautiful.
Because I am inspired daily by the little boy who works so hard to speak.
Because I have so much to be grateful for.
Jennifer Jackson Linck is the author of Bringing Home the Missing Linck: A Journey of Faith to Family, the eBook Trucks, Tantrums, & Trusting Him: Confessions of a Boy Mom and Jackson Finds His Voice, a children’s book about her son who has Childhood Apraxia of Speech. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Jennifer received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and spent several years working as a reporter for The Oklahoman. She writes about faith and motherhood on her blog www.jenniferjacksonlinck.com. Jennifer hopes to offer a glimmer of hope to mothers who aren’t quite sure what they’ve gotten themselves into. Jennifer is a Texan at heart, but resides in Oklahoma with her husband, John, and their son Jackson.