As I was picking apart three roasted chickens with my bare hands, my mind wandered. I tend to do that when everyone else is sleeping and I am up in a silent house. Sometimes, I feel like Caroline Ingalls. Well, with an electric roaster. I am raising two Lauras and a Mary. But my Mary can’t speak. She can’t read.
I was reading at Adelaide’s age. It’s a double standard that I don’t think twice about my 5-year-old boy wanting to choose engineering solutions and incessant building over the written word. He can spell his own name, knows his alphabet, and knows some of his sounds. It will come in time. I am not worried at all.
But Adelaide. She’s my little homebody. With all she misses out on, I am grieved that she can’t escape into another world without help. She says her alphabet from a to q, with xyz thrown in at the end, the same way she counts from 1 to 20 or thrashes her head from side to side for minutes at a time. It soothes her. It’s repetition.
Will she ever know what those letters can do? Will she ever pick up Little House in the Big Woods? I don’t know. I will read it to her. Pull her out of her own world, back into mine, and then hope that we can travel together.
But it doesn’t matter if she can’t understand what I am saying. I read to her in the womb when she could hear, but not understand. I read to her as an infant. Words dancing out of my mouth. The cadence of it all fascinated her.
She may never be able to do it on her own. I am preparing for that possible reality. I will continue to share with her the stories of little Laura and her family. Fun, games, back-breaking work, fear, times of plenty, and struggle upon struggle.
Life is similar now and then. So many differences, but I am sure that Caroline was up, mind meandering, thinking about the futures of her children. Motherhood is picking the meat from chickens. Messy. Necessary. Buried in the task. But oh so rewarding.