In The Blink Of An Eye

Today I experienced every parents worst nightmare. Abby got lost at the store.

We were on the same aisle checking out Disney Princesses in the toy section no more than six feet apart. As we were talking, I looked down and she rounded the corner and something caught her eye and she went to look at it. In that split second, my heart jumped up into my throat. She also noticed that she didn’t have a visual on me and panicked and began to run. Each aisle that I looked down, she was one ahead of me. The more I called her name, the more terror that built up inside me. I think every child abduction episode of Criminal Minds flashed through my head.

Thankfully, Abby knew to find an adult and the store manager happen to be nearby. The almost hysterical 4 year old running at him probably caught his attention too. When he went to help her, she told him what her name was, what my name was, and that she was lost. We were only two aisles apart.

The whole ordeal lasted maybe two minutes tops but it was honestly the scariest two minutes of my life. In a blink of an eye, things went from a fun girls’ day out to a terrifying experience.

When we were at the beach this summer, I made a very big point to show Abby who the lifeguards were and where to go if she couldn’t find me. Obviously she was never in the water alone but in case of a wave knocked her down or she just got disoriented as it is easy to do, I wanted her to know exactly where to go. Unfortunately, I don’t think we always make the same parenting precautions in our “home” territory.

As scared and terrified as I was in that moment, I was also very proud of Abby. She is a smart little girl. I don’t think she could have reacted any better to the situation. I am also extremely thankful to the store manager who was so kind and gentle with her and reacted so quickly.

Our story had a happy (and quick) ending but I am aware things could have turned out differently and thank God that I will be able put my little girl to bed tonight. I hope our experience can serve as a reminder how quickly something can happen and the importance of educating our children how to respond to potential situations.


Parenting a Preschooler

Abby constantly reminds me that she will be 4 on her next birthday. Really?! FOUR?! How is that even possible? Even in the midst of my denial, I have come to the realization that parenting a preschooler is easily the most challenging thing I have ever done. Whoever created the term “terrible two’s” must have passed their child off before they got any older. The two’s were a breeze in comparison to the three’s. It seems that the closer we get to four, the more interesting our household gets.

Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for each and every day I have with my daughter and wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything but, holy moly, 7pm around our house in the witching hour.

Abby’s vocabulary is growing at an explosive rate and it is so fun to listen as she describes her day and her budding friendships or even eavesdrop as she plays with her babies and tells them stories. My heart melts when I hear her pray and sing. Unfortunately, there are instances, where her vocabulary isn’t quite up to speed with her increasing autonomy which usually end up in crossed arms and a mix of grunts and “you’re mean.”

Or maybe tears and hiding in the closet.

Oh the drama of being a little girl.

The psychology part of brain reverts back to child development class and Erikson’s life stages and can “appreciate” the growth that can happen during this stage. The other part of my brain wants to lose it and find whatever the quickest route to quiet is. I also recall Bill Cosby and the curse of having a child just like you and wonder if I put my parents through the same drama (of course I did).

Our current response is to reply as calmly as possible, “You are not talking like a big girl right now as big girls use their words. When you can talk to me like a big girl, I will listen and we can talk” and then try to give the negative behavior as little attention as possible. Usually she realizes she’s not getting the attention she wants, gets it together, and tries to verbalize what she is trying to say or what she is feeling. Usually. Last night was not one of those times and my husband and I are struggling to how we can communicate that this behavior is unacceptable while helping her to learn to communicate properly. We need help!

So here is my question – if you have been through this stage – what advice can you offer on tackling this trying but wonderful stage?


chronic illnessfamily

When Parenting & Illness Collide: Overcoming Pressure When Parenting With Chronic Illness

Overcoming Pressure When Parenting With Chronic Illness
Two words that every parent dreads to hear.

Potty Training.

I don’t know any one person who jumps for joy when it comes to tackling the task of potty training their child.

After Abby turned two, we attempted to begin to introduce her to the potty. We bought her a cute little pink potty. We bought the “Elmo Goes Potty” book to read to her, although she was the most interested in the stickers. No matter what we tried, she just was not interested which we finally came to accept. She would get there in her time.

The day she turned three something clicked. Hallelujah! She declared herself a big girl and proudly sported her big girl panties. Not only was she having success at home but she was doing great at daycare as well. We even started talking to the director about her moving up into the next class (which only happens when a child is fully potty trained).

I would say we were 95% there but then

My emergency obstruction surgery happened.

It all went out the window.

The eight weeks following my surgery where quite chaotic. My initial hospital stay was almost two weeks long. My parents helped keep her at night as John stayed with me at the hospital. They took her to the beach for a couple days to give her something fun to do before I was discharged.

Obviously once I was released from the hospital, I still struggled with pain and fatigue which made nearly impossible to be as active as I would have liked. I was on lifting restriction for weeks and my incision made snuggling difficult. John was doing most of the majority of the parenting at this point and while he tried to keep up the potty routine, Abby was no longer interested. Something changed.

It was also around this time that she started telling people that her mommy no longer lived at home but that I lived in the hospital because my belly was sick.

Six weeks after my surgery I landed back in the hospital with another partial obstruction. One night my mom brought her to visit. As it was getting close to time for her to leave, she had an epic meltdown. EPIC. Like something you only see in movies epic.

Once I finally got her calmed down enough to talk, she said she didn’t want mommy to be in the hospital anymore and wanted me to go home with her.

My heart shattered into a million pieces.

Obviously I’ve grown quite accustomed to how chronic illness has affected my life. After almost ten years together, my husband is not shy about sharing how he feels either.

But my daughter

my child

my heart

does not have the luxury of being able to verbalize how my illness affects her at three years old. Instead it shows through her actions. The tantrums and the reverting are ways of showing me how the uncertainty (and sometimes chaos) of my illness affects her understanding and her security. When her sense of normal is shifted (such as one parent being hospitalized for almost three weeks in a six week period), her whole self is affected. The last day she was with my parents she told my mom that she was sad and when my mom asked why she said it was because she knew that her mommy was never going to get any better because her belly was too sick.

This hit me hard.

I’m not sure how many tears I’ve cried thinking about it.

I struggled with guilt and shame knowing how unfair it is for her to have to worry about whether or not her mommy is going to be able to pick her up or get in the floor to play in the floor with her. She depends on me and I hate that sometimes my illness makes me feel undependable since you cannot always predict a flare. I spent so much time beating myself up. I cried out to God why this had to happen. It hurt. A lot.

Parenting with chronic illness is hard y’all.

On everyone.

Its hard on the parent with the illness. Its hard on the parent who ends up being the caregiver to both the sick spouse and the child. And its hard on the child. It is definitely a difficult triangle to maneuver.

The one thing that this whole experience has taught me was how valuable each moment can be. And how important how important it is to soak up each and every minute of a good day and how to make alterations to make even the bad days memorable.

Now what does this have to do with potty training?

I am proud to report as we settled back into a slightly new normal (which included me getting my strength back) and got back into the rhythm of our family, potty training is back on track and the “Pee-pee In The Potty” dance Abby and I created has become a regular occurrence.

Even 3 year olds need to have a new kind of normal.