If I could sum up in one word what life is like with our special-needs daughter, I would say “slow.” Everything is slow. Getting dressed is slow. Going to the bathroom is slow. Eating is slow. Talking is slow. Walking is slow. In fact, “slow” has taken on a whole new level of meaning. We knew when we adopted her that the adjustment would be slow, but we did not know then what “slow” would really mean.
As Anah’s vocabulary of English words has increased (slowly), along with her ability to communicate in speech and sign language, one of our favorite lines has become “Wait for it…” If you’ve seen Disney’s animated film Bolt, you know that line comes from the silly pigeons who say it when they want to pause for dramatic effect. So it’s our attempt to inject some humor into what would otherwise be an often frustrating process.
The reason for that line is because when you greet Anah or tell her to say “please” or “thank you” or whatever, usually her response doesn’t come out right away. And sometime you can see it coming, almost in slow motion—her mouth starts to form the shape for the sound, her hand lifts to do the sign for it, and then she “freezes” there for a few seconds while the brain catches up with the body…and then with a big smile the word finally comes out of her mouth while her hand completes the sign. So it’s in that long, pregnant pause that we say “Wait for it! It’s coming…”
The slowness of life with Anah is showing me how impatient I can be. When I’m heading out the door to the office and I say goodbye to my family, everyone else says “Bye!” right away and I don’t even have to break my stride. But with Anah I have to come to a complete stop and wait for a whole 20 seconds until the “B-b-b-b-bye!” comes out. When I’m finishing up her evening bathtime routine and getting her pajamas on, if she takes a few seconds longer to gain her balance so she can lift up her leg and put her pants on, I tend to snap irritably at her and try to hurry her up. When she’s with me running errands and I’m pressed for time, I find myself resenting the extra few moments it takes for her to climb out of the car and trudge with me into the store. In those moments, “Wait for it…” becomes a mirror, revealing my impatient heart.
In our instagram culture, where soft drink companies blatantly tell us to “Live for Now,” the slowness of special needs can chafe and frustrate. But God’s Word is clear—our best life is not now…we have to wait for it. And so the waiting that comes with loving our children (special needs or not) is “practice” for the waiting that we must endure as we long for our Father to bring us Home. And “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
So wait for it…it’s worth it!