Everyone has a fear for their kids.

I think we all fear illness falling onto our children, or something happening to them that is beyond our control.  Besides the universal fears we all have for our kids, I think everyone has a personal fear for their children as well.

I knew my fear for my kids the moment I found out I was pregnant with our first child.  It might sound silly to some of you reading this, but I worried right off the bat, that my kids would inherit my stutter.

Yes, I have a stutter.

I’ve come A LONG way to be able to write that last sentence.

Some of you reading this already knew this because we grew up together.  You were there through my journey through grade school and beyond.  I have to admit, as hard as it was on me, I really had a great group of friends and teachers who didn’t make me feel so terrible about it.

I still remember the fears I had during the “round robin” reading in school.  I would literally count the number of kids ahead of me, find my paragraph I would have to read, and pray it was short with no words that started with b’s, p’s, or s’s.  I remember promising myself if I ever was a teacher, that I would never make each kid get up on the first day of school and say their name to the class.  Even in college I hated the first day of a new semester, because there was always one or two professors who still did this.

I used to HATE calling people and places on the phone (well, I honestly still do).  I remember my best friend growing up had a name that started with a “K” and for some reason I could never say it over the phone when I called her house.  I literally got so frustrated over my anxiety about calling her, that I recorded myself asking for her on a cassette tape, and then would play it when her brother or parents would answer their house phone.  I’m sure this is unfathomable to a lot of you reading this, but this was my reality and how I found ways to “cope” with my anxiety over my “disability.”  Things other people didn’t think twice about were my Achilles heel.

Some of you reading this know me now and had NO clue I stutter.  I have come a long way, and really only have this problem under high anxiety situations now.  I recently confided in a close friend, who I have known for years about this, and she genuinely had no idea that I even had this issue.

Situations I still find nerve-wracking are when I have to call places on the phone (although I am okay if someone calls me and I answer the phone), if I have to go to my daughter’s new school and “state why I’m there through the front speaker,” or when I’m around a large group of people I don’t know and am expected to introduce myself.  It’s still something I struggle with A LOT, and something that I’m trying very hard to not let define me.

With all this being said, my biggest fear might be coming true, and honestly, I’m sick about it.

The daughter has always taken after me in a lot of ways, including the occasional stutter from time to time.  The first time she did it, when she was just learning how to speak, I basically tried to keep it together in front of her and then sobbed like a baby in front of my husband when we were alone.  I always have worried about her due to my situation.  When she was younger I was told not to worry, that most kids at that age did stutter.  Of course, I worried and hoped it was just a normal phase of being a toddler.

She doesn’t do it often, but due to me being so hyper-sensitive about it, I notice it a lot more than the normal person does.  I never make a big deal about it because I know from experience, once it becomes something negative that it only gets worse.

Today, everything changed.

The daughter came home upset from Kindergarten because older kids were teasing her on the bus about how she talked.  She told me that she asked a little boy his name and when she tried to repeat it back to him that she had “a hard time getting the word out.”  My heart broke.  She also told me she can’t ever say her best friend’s name without messing it up.  Somehow (I have no idea how), I was able to talk to her calmly, without revealing my true emotions.

I asked her how she felt when this happened and other questions along those lines.  She has no idea this is even called stuttering, but I can tell she is already frustrated with it all.  I told her we all are different and we all do different things, that’s what makes us special.  I reminded her that sometimes I have a hard time saying things and people’s names and that it’s perfectly okay.

I told her some people are mean.

It’s a hard truth to learn when you’re six, but it’s something she needs to know.  I reminded her that she has great friends who care about her and who accept her for who she is.  Why does it matter if sometimes she can’t say certain words the same as other kids?  I told her if someone starts making her feel sad, that she really doesn’t need to talk to them or to be friends with them.  (A harsh lesson, but I need to be real with her on this one.)

Of course, we talked about how no matter what, she is always nice to people, but that if they are making fun of her to tell them, “That’s not nice.” and then to basically ignore them.  We don’t have time for people like that in our lives and we shouldn’t care what people think.  That’s still a hard lesson I am trying to learn, so why not teach her this young?

I’ll be honest, I am sitting here alone tonight crying.  I’m sad for many reasons, but the main reason is fear.

I am scared she will have to endure a life of anxiety and fear over something she really cannot control, just like me.  I am upset that I did this to her, and she inherited my worst trait.  I know it’s not my fault, I couldn’t have prevented this, but I still feel guilty.  Mom guilt is the worst!

I think I blog because I am a much better writer than speaker.  I can freely say what I want to say and I don’t get hung up on syllables or sounds.  I don’t get nervous when typing like I sometimes do when speaking.

I only hope that one day my sweet daughter understands that our differences don’t define us, that they make us who we are.  I NEVER would have put this out there into the universe before.  It was always more of an “adult secret” I was trying to keep from the new friends I’ve made since moving away from home.  Maybe me putting this out into the universe will help me, and maybe it’ll help someone else.

I might be jumping the gun here and she might be fine after all.  I hope I’m reading into everything, but if I’m not, I need to find a way to have the strength of 1,000 men to hold me back when I hear someone making fun of my daughter for the very thing that I am still struggling with.

Do me a favor, appreciate people for who they are.  Everyone is someone’s child.  Everyone has something that bothers them.  Let’s not make life harder on anyone, adult or child, especially for things they cannot control.