Kim Bongiorno is an author, freelance writer, and blogger. Best known for her popular blog LetMeStartBySaying and Facebook Page, she has also been published in three books, all while writing for sites such as InThePowderRoom, The Huffington Post and others. Kim lives in New Jersey with her handsome husband and two charmingly loud kids.

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The Treasures They Hold

Most parents spend their days collecting moments.

Like multi-tasking beach combers, we keep an eye on the waves crashing towards us as we reach down to grab big, rippled clam shells in perfect form; bits of bleached coral; rare folds of smooth green sea glass; tiny delicate pink shells the size of our fingernails. We gently wipe them clean and store them close, preventing the tide from hiding them from our memories in a fog of silt.

Then there are the moments that wash us over, leave us gasping for breath, looking to the sky in disbelief.

In the December that my son was two-and-a-half years old, our family (including his new nine-month-old sister) moved from our little waterfront condo overlooking the NYC skyline to suburban New Jersey. To say it was a hectic, sleep-deprived time would be an understatement of obscene proportions.

He got sick with fever soon after the move, so I found a new pediatrician that was highly recommended. But he kept getting sick.

Something wasn’t right.

I took him in over and over again, we saw multiple doctors and nurses, he’d get better for a short while, but then we’d be back again.

In the meantime, he was receiving Speech Therapy, which I had been told time and time again was typical of a firstborn son. They sometimes needed a little help.

Five months later, I was no longer concerned: I was angry. Something was wrong with my son, and no one was taking me seriously.

I listened to my gut, made an appointment with a different doctor at another facility. When we walked in, I told her right off the bat what my concerns were. She asked him two questions, looked him over, and said, “You’re right. There is something wrong with his ears, I’m sending you over to the specialist right now, I won’t be surprised if he needs surgery right away.”

Within a week, I was walking my son in a clown-covered hospital gown barefoot through the halls of a local hospital to the Operating Room to get ear tubes put in, old stagnant fluid drained from his ears, and his adenoids removed.

Surgery went well, we took him home and he slept all afternoon.

When he woke up, I quietly carried him to the kitchen, placed him at the table, and went over to the oven across the room to cook him a late lunch. I called out to him, “Do you want milk with your mac and cheese?” He didn’t respond, so I turned around.

His blue unblinking eyes were wide, his mouth slack. He stared at me like he was just seeing me for the first time. It took me only a beat to realize he was hearing my voice correctly for the first time.

The surgeon couldn’t be sure that my son ever heard my voice without it sounding underwater. Some days it was better than others, but there was always restriction, always fluid blocking the clarity of my voice, his dad’s voice, his sister’s squawking.

I dropped my spoon, crossed the room, and talked to him gently, introduced my real voice to him, and he grabbed me into a big, confused, relieved hug.

The next day, as my husband drove the four of us out for pizza, our son sang a song all on his own for the first time in his life. He was weeks shy of his third birthday. I kept my face forward as he went through each stanza, letting hot salty tears of gratitude wash me over.

So when I saw the viral video of the three-year-old Grayson hearing his dad’s voice for the first time after getting an auditory brain stem implant which gave him the gift of hearing, I wept for the boy, I wept for his dad. That is a moment they will always hold close, one that you can’t imagine, you can’t look for, but that finds you in its own time, and fills you will a surreal joy that no few other memories in our lifetime can give us.

When our kids are first laid in our arms, we feel that no treasure could ever top that singular moment.

Then they spend the rest of their lives proving they have a sea of jewels and fortunes tucked away just for us, which they will slowly release for us to dig up, to collect, to cherish as we hold our breath.

What are your most treasured parenting moments?

Treasures They Hold by Kim Bongiorno of @LetMeStart on @TodaysMama #hearing #speech #kids #lifelessons

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  1. Pingback: The Treasures They Hold

  2. Darcy Perdu 07/20/2013 at 10:48 am

    What a beautiful story! I’m so happy for you and your son. And I especially liked how you ended the post: “Then they spend the rest of their lives proving they have a sea of jewels and fortunes tucked away just for us, which they will slowly release for us to dig up, to collect, to cherish as we hold our breath.” That’s gorgeous writing!

  3. Mommyproof 07/01/2013 at 4:46 pm

    What a beautiful and heartwrenching story. I can’t even imagine how you must have felt before you knew what was wrong — and the relief now. xox

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  5. hollow tree ventures 06/26/2013 at 6:47 am

    What beautiful imagery – lovely piece! The same sort of thing happened with my son. I chalked the speech therapy up to him being a preemie. No one figured out he needed tubes until he was 6.

    • Kim Bongiorno of LetMeStartBySaying 07/01/2013 at 9:28 am

      Yes. I feel like I witnessed so, so many people say that it’s “just a boy thing” and not look deeper into it. Luckily I was at least able to get services through the state for a while, since he was young when I got his speech eval, but to know he didn’t hear my voice properly for YEARS? That was a big ouch.

  6. Chris Carter 06/25/2013 at 11:49 pm

    After my daughter’s surgery, she heard thunder for the first time and perked her sweet little head and said, “What’s THAT mommy???” I have been THERE. Oh mama… I have been there more than you know.

  7. Norine of Science Of Parenthood 06/24/2013 at 3:05 pm

    What a beautiful post. And so empowering. I hope more moms see this and gain the confidence to listen to their guts and pursue the care they know their child needs and not be intimidated and dissuaded by someone else just because he/she has an MD after their name. Bravo!

    • Kim Bongiorno 06/25/2013 at 10:11 am

      The funny thing was that I met SO many people who were SO happy with that pediatric practice, that at first I thought I was just going crazy, that maybe it was the stress of moving and two little kids less than 2 years apart and all that. But I was right all along. I still don’t know why no one listened to me, no one thought of it or caught it.

  8. Amy (My Real Life) 06/24/2013 at 2:53 pm

    Kim, So beautifully written. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • Kim Bongiorno 06/25/2013 at 10:10 am

      Thanks, Amy! It felt like it was time.

  9. stephanieyoung 06/24/2013 at 2:48 pm

    Wow, that’s amazing! My son had tubes in and adenoids out when he was six. He’d been struggling on an doff for the past year and we realized his hearing was severely impaired. When he finally got the tubes in, he was getting terrible headaches. He was six so he could express what he was feeling. When I called the nurse she explained that it was sensory overload. He wasn’t used to hearing all the noises as loudly. After about a week of him getting used to his new ears, he was good as new! I can’t even imagine how little he had been hearing us before then.

    • Kim Bongiorno 06/25/2013 at 10:09 am

      My son still isn’t a big fan of really loud noises, but it’s amazing to know he hears it ALL now. well, except for them I ask him to clean up after himself. No doctor can fix that.

  10. Elizabeth Flora Ross 06/24/2013 at 2:46 pm

    Oh, Kim! This brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing this beautiful moment.

    • Kim Bongiorno 06/25/2013 at 10:08 am

      Sorry, didn’t mean to make you cry. 🙂 But it’s allll goood.

  11. Jenn @ Something Clever 2.0 06/24/2013 at 2:22 pm

    Before I read this, I was prepared to come over and tell you how my most treasured moment was when my son first sang. But that’s just because the song he sang was “Gimme Shelter.” You win. Back to the drawing board…

    • Kim Bongiorno 06/24/2013 at 2:38 pm

      Singing “Gimme Shelter” is pretty damn cool, Jenn! I can see treasuring that one.

  12. Eli@coachdaddy 06/24/2013 at 1:11 pm

    This “post comment” block doesn’t seem to do justice for what I want to say as my “most treasured parenting moment.” As father to three girls, 8, 12, and 15, there’s a whirlwind of them, from first steps to first words to first goals scored to beautiful moments filled with questions and observations and triumphs and failures.

    I can say, however, a treasured blog-reading moment was spent on this post – I smiled like someone just bought my lunch at the moment you realized he’d just heard your voice for the first time.


    • Kim Bongiorno 06/24/2013 at 2:36 pm

      Thank you, Eli. My boy’s hearing is the gift that keeps on giving.

      I also love the look of kids observing things. I think I have so many brain snapshots of their profiles in awe at something they found to be totally cool.

  13. Tracy@CrazyAsNormal 06/24/2013 at 1:01 pm

    I could have written this story. It was truly an amazing experience to watch our then 2-year-old really hear for the first time. And I too have all of the memories forever inscribed on the scrapbook in my mind. 🙂

    • Kim Bongiorno 06/24/2013 at 2:35 pm

      Yes! It’s amazing! I can’t believe I didn’t realize that would happen until it was actually happening. Still feels surreal. Wonderful, but surreal.

  14. Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense 06/24/2013 at 10:05 am

    Beautiful story, beautiful writing. Some of your best work. <3

    • Kim Bongiorno 06/24/2013 at 2:34 pm

      Thank you, Kristen. That means a lot. 🙂

  15. Rachael 06/24/2013 at 8:24 am

    Beautiful post! That video was also amazing!

    • Kim Bongiorno 06/24/2013 at 8:48 am

      Thank you. As soon as I saw that boy’s reaction, that day in my kitchen all came rushing back to me. I can’t imagine what it was like for his dad to see his son hear ANYTHING for the first time!

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