Running on Empty

Today marks the end of the 2016-2017 school year and I could not be more excited about summer break.  Our oldest just finished his first year in middle school and our youngest her first year of elementary school. It goes without saying that this school year was challenging yet inspiring, long yet swift, but most importantly this school year is complete. The past 10 months has been filled with homework, school projects, learning to read, band rehearsals, parent teacher conferences, school fundraisers, school newsletters, data, box top collection sheets, report cards, lost lunch boxes, tears, celebrations, frustration and pride.  Since mid-May I have felt completely drained, feeling as though my tank was running on empty, desperately hoping to coast into June 16th ready to be re-fueled by summer break. Just when my brain was about to explode and my nerves were about to break, June 16th finally arrived!

Summer is a time for our family to slow down and relax. Mark finally gets some much needed time off from teaching and I enjoy the extra help around the house, albeit only for a couple of months. Summer is also a time for our children to just be kids. They can swim at our neighborhood pool any day of the week.  They can stay up late and sleep in the next morning. They can catch fireflies while we roast marshmallows in the back yard. They have time to actually be bored for once.

Earlier this week, the pressures of sixth grade were weighing heavily on my boy.  When I picked him up from school on Tuesday, he was weary and ready to give up. He did not feel that he had it in him to finish the last three days of school and he admitted apprehension for 7th and 8th grade.

“I hate middle school!” he confessed.

I took a deep breath and paused for a second, gathering my thoughts. I knew exactly how he was feeling because I had been experiencing the same weariness, frustration and apprehension since mid-May. My tank was almost bone dry.

“Buddy,” I started “We are Brandenburgers and Brandenburgers can do hard things.” I reached out and ruffled his hair as he hung his head low.

I used the analogy of the glass being half full instead of half empty. I encouraged him to be proud of how much time and effort he has already put into middle school. Thomas raised his head and looked at me, waiting for more explanation. Thank god he still listens to me and welcomes my advice because I know that sooner rather than later, he will look at me like I am an idiot, roll his eyes and turn his back to me.

“Think about it this way. You are one third of the way finished with middle school, that’s like .….. 33%, I think.” I said.

With a sideways smirk he said, “Pretty good mom. I’m impressed that you got that right because you suck at math.” And there it was, tween sarcasm at it’s best. I laughed and so did he.

“Well,” I winked at him, “One day you will appreciate how smart I really am.”

“Whatever.” He said playfully. He looked away for a second and then turned back to me, “So that means that by December, I will have completed 50% of middle school.”

I laughed, “That’s my boy.” And I reached out to hug him as he accepted willingly. I buried my face into the top of his head like I used to do when he was little. I inhaled his boy smell, a mix of faded shampoo, greasy head oil and sweat. I let his embrace re-fuel my empty tank so that I too could make it through the next few days.

I am grateful to live in a county with exceptional public schools. Okay, maybe I am a little biased since my husband is a public school teacher in Henrico County but still, we are very fortunate. My kids have been blessed with excellent teachers who truly care about their well-being and education. I hope each and every teacher will take this summer to recharge their batteries, fill up their tanks and celebrate another productive school year because I know that my family sure will.

 

50 Shades of Gray

Maybe the title of this post sparked your interest. No, it is not about the book and movie by the same name. This post is about something that has been on my mind since November 8, 2016, election day.

Over the past several months, I have been reading, listening, observing and sometimes commenting on what is happening in our country. I have done my best to keep my emotions at bay and show my children that it is important for us to be tolerant and patient with others who might not agree with our views. When it comes to deliberation, I never see the answer as black or white. I tend to see the gray in every debate. Sometimes the shade of gray is a deep charcoal and sometimes it is silver. Trying to navigate the last few months has been challenging however, my children continue to teach me about acceptance and tolerance.

My first lesson in acceptance of our new reality was from my son. During the last few weeks of the 2016 presidential campaigns, my son grew very interested in what was happening. We did our best to allow him to come to conclusions on his own rather than encourage him to agree with his father and me. Several times, I remember Thomas coming home after school, quiet and thoughtful, trying to process what he had heard on the bus, during lunch, on a YouTube video or from the older kids at school. Sometimes he would talk to me about the things he was hearing and other times he chose to process the information on his own, trying to culminate an opinion. When he decided to talk about it, I would listen, interject as needed, substantiate facts when appropriate and caution him when the information was hearsay.

On Election day, I took him with me to the polls, answering his questions and educating him on how lucky we are to live in the United States. That evening, Thomas wanted to watch some of the news coverage stating “This is my country and I want to know what happens.”  We sat on the couch and watched together.  We talked about women’s rights, religious freedom, and democracy. I explained the meaning of white privilege and that he need not feel guilty about the color of his skin but rather, use his privilege for the betterment of others. Around 9:00 pm, it appeared as though Clinton was going to be our next president. Thomas was growing tired and decided to head upstairs and retire for the evening. I kissed my boy goodnight and reminded my 11, going on 20 year old, to brush his teeth. He fell asleep feeling hopeful and excited.

Mark and I continued to follow the election night coverage and as the evening progressed we were able to predict the outcome. By the time I went to sleep, I was disappointed, worried and could not stop thinking about my son. What would I say to him when he awoke in the morning?

The next day, I got up, dressed myself and Leah and walked her to the school bus. Usually Mark wakes Thomas on school mornings so needless to say, he was alarmed when I woke him instead of his father.  The first thing out of his mouth was “Did she win?” I fought back the urge to spew my raw emotions, took a trembling breath and looked him in the eye. He knew the answer to his question before I spoke my first word. Over the next few minutes, I explained to my wide eyed 11 year old what had happened. I watched his tears form and did my best to stay positive and ease his fears. I explained that it was important for us to keep an open mind, be kind and respect the opinions of others. I warned that some of his classmates might be celebrating and some might be sad. We rehearsed different ways he might respond if a peer was sad or happy.  After several minutes of discussion, he got himself ready and headed out the door to face the day. He handled it like a champ. Sure he was disappointed. Sure he was a little bit scared. He made the choice to accept reality and move on with his day. It was as simple as that.

My second lesson in the acceptance of our new reality was several days after the election, Leah and I went to a local Children’s consignment store to shop for a few things. While I shopped, Leah wandered over to the next aisle and began to play with some of the toys that were on display. I could hear her begin a conversation with another little girl. They exchanged names, giggled and starting playing together. I peeked around the corner to get a glimpse to make sure the girls were not making a mess. They sat in the middle of the floor, playing with barbies, completely content. I saw the girl’s mother standing near by and I attempted to catch her eye and smile. She looked at me briefly, without expression and turned away.

I decided to try a little harder so I walked a closer to the mom, whose back was to me and I said, “They are having such a great time together.”

She turned briefly to look at the girls, avoided eye contact with me, and turned away. I was a little puzzled by her reaction but, tried to convince myself that perhaps she is just a shy person. I looked up and saw the cashier watching the interaction. She smiled and I smiled back.

Eventually, the other mother paid for her items at the register and called to her daughter, who was still on the floor playing with Leah. The little girl stood and walked toward her mom. As is customary with my children, I encouraged Leah to say goodbye to the little girl.

“Bye friend. Thanks for playing with me.” Leah said, and the two girls embraced. I smiled at my sweet girl and admired how easy it is for young children to show affection and acceptance of others.

I looked toward the other mother who caught my eye briefly. I smiled once again and just before she turned away from me, I saw that her expression changed and I noticed that she looked sad, or perhaps even despondent. She and her daughter walked out the door and I found myself watching after, deep in my thoughts about our interaction, or the lack thereof.

“Don’t you wish everyone could be as kind and accepting as young children?” The cashier said, interrupting my thoughts.

I turned toward her and she was smiling, one of those smiles that warms the entire room and invites one to strike up a conversation. I walked over to the register and we began to talk. She told me that she had been watching my daughter and the other little girl play together and she was moved to tell me how much it made her feel hopeful and optimistic about the future. I was a little confused at her confession so I asked for clarification.

Let me back up a second. What I did not mention earlier is that the other mother and her daughter were African-American. The cashier was also African-American. I didn’t mention that detail in the beginning of my story because, at the time of the event, I wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t think that it mattered that my daughter has white skin and the other little girl has black skin. As far as I was concerned, they were playing and having fun together, so I was content. What I realize now is that when I chose to not pay attention to that important detail, I failed to acknowledge what that mother might have been struggling with at the time.

As the cashier spoke, I listened closely, intensely aware of the color of my skin, self-conscious of my white privilege. At that moment, I realized how important it was for me to shut up and listen. She explained that many African Americans were feeling anger and suspicion and needed time and space to work through those emotions.  I nodded in agreement with her as I fought back tears.  She continued by stating that as an African American woman, she had viewed the world as black and white for far too long. For her, she confessed, it was time to begin looking for the gray.  She paused after she finished speaking and I stood there silently processing her words.

As my throat began to tighten I asked, “Can I give you a hug?” and without hesitation she wrapped her arms around my neck and we embraced. Two strangers, one white, one black, consoling one another while my daughter watched.

I suddenly realized why the tears were falling down my cheeks. I was grieving. I was grieving the loss of something but I was not sure what that something was. Perhaps it was the loss of unity in my country, the loss of pride, the loss of security. Whatever it was I was feeling, I can only imagine what Americans, who are marginalized, were feeling. I said my goodbyes to the cashier and Leah and I headed home.

The other day, Leah asked if she could paint. Being that craft time is one of my least favorite mom activities, I begrudgingly obliged. I took out a paper plate and quickly squeezed a quarter size dollop of each color so that Leah could more easily access the paint. Initially, she took painstaking care to wash her brush when she changed colors.

“That looks great honey. I like how careful you are to not mix the colors.” I said.

Suddenly my precocious six year old, decided it was time to mix things up so she thrust her paintbrush onto the plate and started to mix the dollops of paint into one big messy blob. I stared at the blob of paint and noticed the swirling colors begin to bleed into one another, slowly loosing the original hues, merging and assimilating into 50 shades of gray.

Since those first few days after the election, I have continued to allow space to process my grief.  What makes this country great is the complexities of our diversity.  One can list all of the ethnic and racial descriptions that make up this colorful country but in the end, if you mix all of us into one messy blob, you will notice the swirling colors begin to bleed into one another, slowly loosing the original hue, merging and assimilating into 50 shades of gray. There are no easy solutions to the problems our country is facing but I do know that we need to meet somewhere in the middle. No one can be certain whether the solutions will be charcoal or silver but, I am certain that the solutions cannot be black or white.

Mom Judging

I recently read an article about mom judging. Many of the moms reading this will admit that they have been subjected to judging by other moms and if they are really being honest, they will admit to judging those exact same moms. We see Facebook rants, we gossip just before the PTA meeting and we whisper at the bus stop.

This article got me thinking about an incident that occurred at our pool in 2014. It was the end of summer and the kids and I were at the pool swimming. Leah was about 3 and a half at the time and she was swimming around in the baby pool. It was time for us to leave so I wrangled Thomas out of the big pool and the two of us walked over to the baby pool to get Leah. Several children, under the age of five were swimming while their parents chatted and watched from the deck. Leah was playing with her Barbie inter-tube when I called out to her that we needed to leave.

She made a little pouty face and crossed her arms across her chest to let me know she was not happy that she had to leave. The inter-tube floated away from her and into the hands of a little girl who was about 18 months old. She was just like any other toddler, mostly steady on her feet but she wore one of those baby flotation devices around her arms and waist just in case she toppled over. My kids used to wear those when they were toddlers. As I re-directed Leah to gather her things she realized that the toddler had grabbed the inter-tube and was playing with it.

I glanced around for the toddler’s mom, because I had seen this little girl at the pool before and I was familiar with her mother. I noticed the mom was chatting on the side of the baby pool with several other moms so I turned my attention back to the two girls.

Leah, being 3 and a half and still learning about sharing said, “Hey, that’s mine” and grabbed the other side of the tube.

I walked closer to the edge of the pool and said , “Be careful Leah. She’s just a baby. She doesn’t realize it is your toy.”

I glanced over to the little girl’s mom and noticed her back was to us, engrossed in conversation.

No big deal, I thought.

The toddler, not fully understanding and perhaps also thinking, Hey that’s mine, pulled onto the side of the inter-tube she was holding. Leah responded by pulling back, a little harder this time, and saying “It’s mine” and the toddler was pulled forward, a little unsteady on her feet but still upright.

I quickly responded by saying, “Honey she doesn’t understand. You need to….” and before I could finish my sentence the mother of the toddler leapt into the baby pool.

I watched her drag her legs through the mid-calf deep water of the pool and it looked as though she were running in slow motion. I wrinkled my forehead wondering to myself, what is she doing? Does she see something I don’t see?

And then the woman reached the two girls. She grabbed Leah by the arm, spun her around, placed both hands onto her shoulders and shook my baby girl back and forth, while screaming at her, “Don’t do that again! You scared her.”
It was truly one of those out of body experiences.  It was as if I watching a movie as I observed my daughter’s head snap back and forth as she was shook repeatedly. I can remember wrinkling my forehead in confusion because it did not seem real, the expression on Leah’s face, vacant with shock and confusion. Suddenly it felt as though a switch was flipped. As I watched my daughter’s head snap back and forth over and over again, I felt a primal rage stir within the pit of my stomach, making it’s way up and down my spine, every nerve in my body, firing at full capacity. I felt a rush of heat in my face and before I knew it, my legs were moving and I leapt from the pool’s edge to the middle of the baby pool. I must have cleared at least 4 feet in a milisecond. Surprised at my body’s reaction, I realized my heart was racing, my jaw clenched, hands balled into tight fists. I fought the urge to raise my hand to this woman’s face. I tried to blink away the blind fury that literally made my vision blurry.  Now I understand the phrase “Blind Fury.”

I took a deep breath and with every ounce of self control I could muster I spoke for the first time.

“Don’t touch my child!” I was matter of fact and even in my tone but I’m fairly certain that my body language indicated that I meant business. What I wanted to say and what I was really thinking was Get your F#*%@ING hands off my daughter.

The woman immediately realized her mistake and backed away, as her own daughter began to cry, scared and startled by the sight of her mother’s aggression.

“I’m so sorry. I should not have done that. I apologize.” the other mom said over and over, waving her hands in the air, as if to ask for a truce, as she backed further and further away from me. I never moved toward her, cognizant and thankful for my broad five foot nine inch frame. It is times like this that I really appreciate my tall body because I realize how my height can be beneficial in instances where I REALLY want someone to pay attention to me. This was one of those moments. I REALLY wanted to make sure this woman knew that I meant business.

I was suddenly aware that every single adult and child, including my own son, was watching our interaction. Thomas stood on the side of the pool with eyes wide, his mouth hanging open, watching my every move. Several moms guided their children away from our interaction, wise to not interfere yet thoughtful enough to continue to pay attention.

I tilted my head in confusion as I watched this mom continue to create space between the two of us. Did she actually think I would hurt her? Would I ever do that?

That is when I turned my attention to my daughter, who stood beside me, open mouthed, white as a sheet, and said, “Leah, grab your inter-tube. We are leaving.”

She did as she was told and quickly exited the pool reaching for her big brother’s hand as my oldest child stood trying to process what had just happened.

The toddler was still crying, standing all by herself in the middle of the pool as I turned to face the woman once again, feeling some of the tension release from my body. She must have noticed the change in my body language and began to close the gap between us, offering explanations and excuses.

“She was just so scared.She doesn’t swim and she is very scared of getting her face wet.” she explained wringing her hands together.

I said nothing but continued to face her.

“If you could have seen her face when your daughter was pulling the tube….” she said lifting her hands apologetically and shuffling her feet.”She was just so scared.”

I paused for a second, letting the uncomfortable silence make her squirm a little. She was clearly nervous, eyes darting in every direction, running her hands through her hair over and over. It was as if she was in some sort of oblivious trance, completely unaware of her crying daughter and the side glances from the other parents. I caught her eyes and turned my head to look at the toddler, who continued to stand alone, crying, snot running down her nose, puzzled as to why her mom would not console her.

“I was standing right here watching.” I said a little more calm this time. What I really wanted to say was If you had been watching instead of gossiping with the other moms, you would have seen that it was under control.  I chose to keep that thought to myself.

“She was just so scared.” the woman said a third time with pleading hands, still trying to close the gap between us.

I paused once again and said, “Well, now she really is scared. Maybe you should pick her up.” And at that, I turned my back to her, exited the pool and lead my children to the car.

The entire ride home, I had to work hard to regulate my heart beat, taking deep breaths and squeezing the steering wheel to try and relieve some of the tension that continued to course through my body. The kids were very quiet until I broke the silence. I explained to Leah that she did nothing wrong. I told her that sometimes grown ups make bad choices. Thomas reminded me that when grown ups make bad choices they are breaking the law and should go to jail. I acknowledged his statements but assured him that this was not one of those instances. We talked about forgiveness and having compassion for others that might be having a bad day. Once home, I told Mark what happened and decided to take a long walk around the neighborhood.

While walking on that hot sticky August night, I rehashed the incident over and over in my head trying to figure out what part of the interaction between the two girls seemed aggressive enough to cause a mom to react so strongly. Eventually I came to the conclusion that none of this was my fault or Leah’s fault, nor was it the fault of the other woman or the other child. What we had was a misunderstanding. Maybe this mom was having a really bad day. Maybe she has an anxiety disorder, maybe the child has a medical condition or a disability that was not obvious to me. Regardless, I was proud that I was able to remain outwardly calm for the sake of not only my children but, the other moms and children that were witnesses.

A few days later, I was at the pool when a couple of the moms called me over. One woman, started giggling and then leaned in to me.

“So tell me what happened.” she said, a mischievous look on her face.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, genuinely confused.

“I heard about your little incident at the baby pool the other day.” At this point the attention of two other moms, who were in on this little gossip session leaned in closer and started to giggle like school girls.

“How did you hear about that?” I wondered.

This mom proceeded to inform me that she heard about it from another mom who was at the baby pool that afternoon. She went on to tell me that she does not like the woman with whom I had the incident because she is “annoying” and “over protective” of her children. This mom went on to tell me that she and several other moms make fun of the woman and they were happy that I had “told her off”.

I paused for a second to gather my thoughts. “Well, that’s not what really happened. I started thinking about it and I’m sure there is a reasonable explanation.”

I continued to explain that I was no longer angry at the other woman because it was quite possible that she might be struggling in her own way. As I began to express a little compassion for the woman from the baby pool, I actually noticed a look of disappointment in the face of the mom with whom I was talking. Wait, was she actually disappointed that I was no longer angry? Was she actually disappointed that I was not going to share more juicy details? And it was at that exact moment that I chose to take the higher ground and end the conversation, much to her dismay.

Being a mama is hard work. There are days that make you feel as though you might be loosing your mind. There are days when you second guess yourself and days when you are judged so harshly by others that you feel as though you will not make it another day. That day at the baby pool, I made a promise to myself. I promised myself that I would try really hard to NOT judge other moms regardless of the situation because more often than not, I do not have all the facts. I do not know what she is struggling with. Maybe she is going through a divorce, maybe she is sick, maybe her baby has not slept through the night for the past 3 months. Because I made that promise to myself, I hope that other moms will make a promise to stop the mom judging and show a little compassion. Sure, I had a right to be angry with that woman but, I made a choice to show her some compassion and perhaps set a good example for others. Would you do the same?

 

 

 

Adventures in Houseselling

Getting our house ready to go on the market was something that took a couple of years to plan. We strategically timed it so that Thomas would be at the end of his elementary school years and Leah would be on the cusp of beginning kindergarten. About two years ago, we started making home improvements and last summer, we began to pack up some of the things we could live without for a while. Two years is a long time to plan but we wanted to take it slow. We never dreamed that once the house was on the market, things would seem to move at such a feverishly fast pace.

Within the first four days of our house being on the market, our realtor scheduled 11 showings. Although thankful for the incredible interest in our house,  it was a lot more work than we originally anticipated. Through it all, the kids did incredibly well considering the stress, chaos and uncertainty of the situation. The one thing that got our family through the craziness of selling our home was our flexibility and a sense of humor. Trying to keep the house spotless for potential showings whilst living with two young children was, to say the least, an adventure. Most days my mind was racing with “to do” lists, pondering how long I might have to live like this.

How did those popcorn kernels get under the dining room table when I vacuumed yesterday and have not allowed the children to have popcorn in over a week because of this very reason?

How in God’s name can one tiny Pop tart create a million crumbs on the kitchen floor? I could feed the children breakfast on the back deck. Think about it, the birds and the squirrels would eat the crumbs leaving very little clean up for me. Brilliant! Does it really matter that it is only 25 degrees outside? 

How is it possible that a brief 20 minute morning routine to get the children fed, dressed and out the door, can result in a house that looks as though a small tornado has struck? 

How can there be 25 dirty dishes after dinner when there are only 4 people in our family and we ordered takeout so I would not have to clean the stupid kitchen for the fifteenth time in two days? I’m no mathematician but, seriously that just does not add up!

With my daily vacuuming routine why do I continue to suck up random microscopic Lego pieces?

Is it bad that I find myself eating with my head hanging over the sink because it’s just easier to clean up the mess?

Oy vey, I need to work out. I haven’t gone to the gym in days. Wait a minute, my fit bit says I reached my 10,000 steps today. Oh that’s right, it must be all the vacuuming, sweeping, scrubbing, polishing, painting and cleaning.

Where the heck is my hairbrush? I know I put it somewhere out of site so that no one would have to see the long clumps of hair tangled in it’s bristles because I have not have time to clean it. Wait, maybe Leah put it in her bedroom? No I don’t see it but, there is a Barbie comb in her toy box. Yes, that will do. Don’t judge me, this is survival!

The fourth day our house was on the market, we had 3 showings arranged, with the last one scheduled from 1:00-1:30.  At that point, the stress had begun to affect all of us. Leah was fighting a cold, Thomas had trouble sleeping the night before, I wanted to lounge in my bed and watch movies, Mark was behind in his grading and it was snowing. It was one of those lazy Sundays where you just want to be home. We packed up the kids, went to the YMCA for a workout and decided to go out to lunch to kill some time. We finished lunch around 1:15 and decided to head back to the house, hopeful that the last showing appointment would be finished. We drove up to the house at 1:29 and noticed there was no cars out front. Sweet! We unloaded the kids and dragged our tired bodies inside. Mark pulled out his laptop to get some work done. Leah sat herself at the kitchen counter and began to finish up her lunch leftovers of french fries and ketchup. Thomas yanked off his socks and shoes, and bounced up to his room to retreat under his covers and play Minecraft. I settled into my warm cozy bed, thankful that we were done with the showings so I could enjoy a movie on HBO while the snow accumulated outside my bedroom window.  I heard Leah walk into the downstairs bathroom to pee. For some reason, my children have a tendency to leave their pants on the bathroom floor after they use the potty. Usually, I gently, or not so gently, encourage them to re-dress themselves instead of just leaving their pants on the floor for someone to trip over (usually Mark or I).  On this particular afternoon, I was just too exhausted to care so I let it slide.

I was just beginning to relax when I heard Mark say, “Somebody is here.”

“What?” I yelled from the bedroom.

“Somebody just pulled up. I’m pretty sure it’s a realtor and another couple coming to look at the house.”

I frantically looked at the time on my cell phone, “But it’s 1:40, the last showing was from 1:00-1:30.”

“Well, they are walking up the driveway so we need to get out as soon as we can.” He darted upstairs to Thomas’s room.

I jumped out of my bed, yanked the covers across the mattress, flattened out the wrinkles and fluffed the pillows. I ran out of the room and quickly glanced around, identifying what was out of place. I grabbed the toys that Leah had splayed across the living room floor and threw them into the toy chest.

“Leah honey, we need to get out of the house quickly. You need to put on your pants and shoes.”

I turned and ran into my closet to grab my snow boots. I could hear footsteps on the front porch and I started to sweat.  I spotted Leah’s pants which were, of course, still on the bathroom floor so I picked them up and headed to the living room.

“Leah, we need to put on your……”

And it happened in slow motion. I saw the door knob begin to turn, because the realtor had located the key from the lock box. Leah was standing in front of the door when it swung open, revealing an attractive male realtor and a young couple standing behind him, peering over his shoulder.

“Hi.” said Leah, smiling from ear to ear, wearing just her shirt and panties.

“Hello?” says the realtor, turning several shades of red.

I bounced on one foot balancing myself against the wall as I struggled to put on my second snow boot. “So Sorry, we thought the showing was over. We are heading out the door. Just give us a second.”

At this point, Mark and Thomas were rushing downstairs, my son with a look of panic across his face.

“I’m so confused. I don’t understand what is happening.” said Thomas. My sweet boy’s anxiety was through the roof and he was nervous.

“Buddy, I’ll explain more in the car.” I told him

“But I can’t find my socks.” he said, tears in his eyes, panic just under the surface.

“Don’t worry about your socks, just grab your shoes and get in the car.”I told him.

“Yay this is fun. Where are we going now, Mom?” said Leah clapping her hands. Could my two children be any more different?

Mark goes to the front door and tells the realtor “We are heading out now, make yourself at home.” He heads to the back door and makes one more desperate attempt to wipe up any melted snow from the kitchen floor with a paper towel.

I scoop Leah into her pants and boots, reach for my coat and realize that her leftover fries and ketchup are still on the kitchen counter. In a panic, I grab the plate and the car keys and we all make it out the back door, running full speed to the car, as snow accumulates on the driveway.

All four of us begin talking at once.

“What is happening? Why do we have to leave again?” asks Thomas.

“Are these people going to buy our house? Can we see our new house now?” asks Leah, thrilled at the adventure and excitement of the day

“I think I wiped up all the snow.” Mark says, the wet paper towel still in his hand.

“My heart is racing. That was nuts.” I say as I back down the driveway, steering with my right hand as I balance the plate of fries and ketchup in my left hand.

We ease Thomas’s fears and explain to him what has happened. Mark cracks a few jokes and soon we are all giggling at the craziness of the day. I take a deep breath and realize I am still holding the stupid french fries so I place them on the dashboard. We decide to drive to the grocery store to pick up a few items.

Halfway to the store Leah says “Guys, you forgot to strap me in.”

“Oh my God!” I yell as I pull the car over to the side of the road and jump out to strap my daughter into her car seat. I quickly hop back into the driver’s seat.

“Mom, my feet are freezing.” says Thomas.

I turn to look at him in the backseat and I realize his feet are bare and bright red.

“Buddy, where are your shoes?” I ask and notice that he is clutching his shoes with a death grip. Suddenly I realize what happened. In the panic of trying to leave the house, he did exactly as he was instructed. He grabbed his shoes, ran barefoot through the snow and finally hurled himself into the car. I made a quick note to myself, I should be more specific in the future. I will remind him to put on his shoes and get in the car. My bad!

“Mom, my feet are stinging!” he says again.

I glance around, and toss him his winter coat. “Shove your feet into the arms of this coat Buddy. It will keep your feet warm.” and he does just that.

We make it to the grocery store and as we find a parking spot Mark says, “Well, at least we know that in the event this happens again, we can make two beds, mop the floor, grab our coats and shoes and get out the door in 30 seconds.”

We all laugh and suddenly the tension of the day has subsided and it’s just the four of us, hanging out in the middle of the grocery store parking lot, half dressed as the snow continues to fall. I suddenly realize how lucky we are to have so many people interested in our house. This wonderful home has kept the four of us warm and cozy on lots of snowy days. It’s not too much to ask us to leave it for a short while so that another couple might come to the conclusion that this house could keep them warm and cozy on a snowy Sunday.

Eventually, we head back to the house, knowing that we really can relax this time because it was the last showing of the day. We all settle back into our routines and just as I settle into my movie, the phone rings and it is our realtor. He tells us that we have two offers on the house!

“Are you serious?” I ask him and he laughs.

After only four days on the market, we were officially under contract. He informs us that the buyers, a newlywed couple with a baby on the way, absolutely love the house. And just like that, I realize it was all worth while. All of the painting, cleaning, dusting, polishing, vacuuming, and worrying was worth it and I begin to cry tears of happiness. Happy that we have received an offer so quickly, happy that the offer was more than we expected, happy that the couple loves the house so much and happy that my family pulled together and everyone did their part.

Mark and I gather the kids on Leah’s bed and share the news. Leah claps her hands and Thomas bounces on the bed with nervous excitement, happy because mom and dad are happy but also anxious because he is not certain what this means for him.

I start to cry again and Thomas tells me “Just let it out mom. It’s okay.” as he gently rubs my back, my sweet sensitive boy.

We explain to the kids that our next step is to find a new house for our family. We caution that it might take a while and prepare them for the possibility of renting an apartment for a short time. Thomas asks about whether or not he will have to change schools and we assure him that will not happen. He will be able to finish his fifth grade year at his current elementary school. I ask Leah to draw a picture of what she hopes our new house will look like. She wants her house to be big with trees and flowers in the yard and a back yard for the dog, that we have promised to get this summer.

The day slips by and Mark and I settle into our beds that evening, a little less stressed than we were the night before.  We are not sure what tomorrow holds but we know that we are one big step closer in this Leap of Faith and it feels fantastic.

 

 

 

 

 

Just keep swimming….

Tonight I find myself longing for a time when I could come home from work and lounge on the couch, I could go to the gym, I could make dinner from scratch, I could pour a glass of wine, I could eat at the coffee table with Mark, while we watched the NBC lineup of Mad About You, Friends, Seinfeld and then ER. Yes I am aware that I just wrote a run on sentence but it has just been one of those days.

It all started at 4:45 this morning when Leah came into our room, crawled into our bed,  took over my side, forcing me to move into her bed where I lay wide awake until the alarm sounded at 6:00 am.

After a busy day at work, I just wanted to come home and relax a bit before dinner.

Thomas walked in from school about the time I arrived home, had a snack, and started his homework.  I headed to the kitchen to unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher and load the dirty dishes from last night’s dinner and this morning’s breakfast because, I swear, the dishes seem to multiply overnight.

“Mooooom!” Thomas yells from the other room.

Rolling my eyes and taking a deep breath I walk into the living room to find my boy curled up on the couch with a pair of tweezers, picking at a bump on his foot.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

He proceeds to tell me about a bump that has been on his foot for days. It looks like an old bug bite that is scabbed over and I tell him so. He begins to panic that it might be infected. My sensitive little boy tends to overreact to these types of things which can quickly lead to a full-blown anxiety attack.

“Buddy, it doesn’t look infected to me. I think you need to stop picking at it, use an antibiotic cream and keep a band-aid on it for a couple of days.”

He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and declared that he was absolutely and unabashedly certain the sore would lead to an infection that would make him lose his foot and if he lost his foot what would he do with his other shoe?

So of course, I call the pediatrician and made an appointment for thirty minutes later. As I hung up the phone, Mark came home and stated that he had to help out with an event at his school this evening. We made the decision that he would pick up Leah from day care, get a kid’s meal and take her with him to the event while Thomas and I rushed to the pediatrician.

We end up seeing one of our favorite nurses who takes out her special nurse flashlight, puts on her reading glasses and takes a close look at the sore on Thomas’s foot. After a few seconds she turns off the light, removes her eyeglasses and looks Thomas in the eye.

“Buddy, it doesn’t look infected to me. I think you need to stop picking at it, use an antibiotic cream and keep a band-aid on it for a couple of days.”

I’m having major Deja vu. Didn’t I just say that an hour ago? I swallow the urge to say I told you so and instead fork over the $25 co-payment and $10 for a prescription of antibiotic cream.

We get back in the car, pick up a pizza, and head out to meet Leah and Mark at his work event. Mark decides that he is not feeling well and needs to go to Patient First. I load Leah into my car and head home where I promptly plop the kids in front of the TV, make them each a bowl of ice cream with a cupcake on the side because I JUST want 10 minutes to myself.

Eventually I muster the energy to get them both in the tub so that I can fold some laundry. I find myself repeating the same thing over and over.

“Stop splashing WATER on the floor. STOP splashing water on the floor, stop splashing water on the FLOOOOOOR!” No matter which word I emphasized they still splashed water on the floor.

Suddenly Leah jumped up, and shouted, “I have to peeeee!’

“Oh my god, do not pee in this tub.” Thomas said.

“Leah, get out of the tub and use the toilet please,” I said through gritted teeth. “Be careful with the wet flo………”

As she made her way out of the tub, her feet were swept out from underneath her and she slammed into the ceramic toilet, nose first.

“Oh Shit!” I yelled as blood splattered across the bathroom floor and up the side of the tub.

“Mom, language!” Thomas scolded.

I was in crisis mode, calculating, sorting through the facts and processing my options. The tub was still running so I yelled at Thomas to turn off the water so it did not overflow onto the floor that was already soaked. I yanked the towel off the of rack, scooped Leah’s wet body into my arms and then slipped on the stupid wet floor. I struggled to catch myself on the vanity while holding a screaming four-year old who was one giant wet noodle of soap bubbles, tub water and blood.

“SHIT, SHIT.” I repeated, as I eyed Thomas with a mom glare and dared him to say anything.

She was bleeding from her nose so I grabbed a hand towel, shoved it against her face and dashed downstairs to the kitchen so I could get a better look.

Thomas rushed downstairs on my heels, naked, soaking wet, questions spilling out of him.

“Is her nose broken, Mom? Is it bad? Do we need to go to the hospital? Should I call daddy?”

“No Buddy.” I wasn’t sure what question I was answering.

I managed to get an ice pack on her face, leaned her forward and applied gentle pressure to the bridge of her nose. This seemed to be working and her sobs began to slow. I ran into the bathroom, grabbed a tampon, cut it in half and proceeded to shove it up Leah’s nostril, much to Thomas’s dismay,

“Um mom, that is really weird. Why did you stick that up her nose?”

“I know what I’m doing, Thomas,” I told him.

“That is not where it goes. I took family life and I know where that thing goes.”

I was sweating like a horse and that stupid natural, organic, aluminum-free deodorant, that I bought at Walgreens with a coupon, was NOT working.

I heard the water still running upstairs so I yelled to Thomas, “Buddy, PLEEEASE go turn off the water before the tub overflows.”

“But…”

“Do it!” I tell him, “And put on some PJs for god’s sake.”

He grabbed my cell phone, ran naked upstairs to turn off the water and returned with a pair of pajamas bottoms halfway up his leg and Mark on speaker phone.

As the bleeding in Leah’s nose slowed, Mark and I decided that he would stay at Patient First because it is obvious that her nose is not broken. My heartbeat began to slow and I removed the tampon from her nose which dislodged a long, slimy, blood clot.

“That is so gross!” says Thomas.” “It looks like a giant slug.”

“Let me see, let me see.” Leah is no longer crying and is completely intrigued. “But where is the shell?” she asks wrinkling up her nose, assuring me that her nose was definitely not broken.

“Honey it’s not really a slug, it just looks like one. That happens when your body is trying to stop bleeding.” I explained.

I wiped the blood from her face, put on her PJs and plopped her into my bed for a video and a Popsicle. Just in case you are keeping track, that was dessert number three. Parent of the year, right here!

As the three of us began to settle down for the night, Mark called to check on Leah and told me he was leaving Patient First.

“Apparently I have Shingles all over my face and it’s spreading.” He said.

What the………REALLY!!!???

He proceeded to tell me that the doctor suggested he see a ophthalmologist right away as the virus can do some nasty things to your eyes. As we talk through his course of action, I sort through the mail and see a jury duty letter for Mark. For God’s sake, could one more person demand something from us please? That was sarcasm folks. I toss the letter aside and begin to prepare the medication that Thomas takes every night, only to realize that we are completely out and the pharmacy is closed. And just when I am ready to blow my top, throw my arms up in the air and say to hell with this… I realize that I have a choice to make.

Recently, I heard a co-worker present on how parenting is sometimes like being in a race. Sometimes you run at your top speed and sometimes you choose to jog slowly. Sometimes you run a 50 meter dash and sometimes you run a freaking marathon. It doesn’t matter which race you run, you just have to finish the race. On days like today, I have two choices. I can choose to quit the race or I can choose to just finish. For some reason I have visions of Dori, from Finding Nemo, as she sings, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

Today was a marathon kind of day but I finished the race, definitely not in first place but I finished none the less. Tomorrow, I will have to just keep swimming.

I am a mom FIRST

If you were to conduct a Google search on Sensory Processing Disorder, the following descriptions are what you will likely find:

  1. Inability of the neurological system to appropriately manage input from the senses
  2. Difficulty coping with transitions
  3. High risk for emotional and social problems
  4. Inability to make/keep friends or be a part of a group
  5. Poor self-concept
  6. Academic/educational problems
  7. Labeled as clumsy
  8. Uncooperative
  9. Belligerent
  10. Disruptive
  11. Out of control
  12. Anxiety
  13. Depression
  14. Phobias
  15. Aggression
  16. Parents may be blamed for their child’s behavior
  17. An invisible or hidden disorder

Any ONE of these symptoms is enough to worry a parent. Our son has SPD and an anxiety disorder and over the past 10 years we have had multiple assessments completed and have seen EVERY single one of these descriptions at least once. It’s enough to make me want to crawl under my covers, bury my head under the pillow and stay there until someone wakes me from my nightmare and tells me that Thomas has miraculously recovered.

Supporting our son and helping him to learn better coping strategies is a daily struggle. When I look at the list above, the symptom that is the hardest for me to swallow is number 17, an invisible or hidden disorder. Thomas’s SPD and Anxiety might be invisible to others however, he is very aware of his challenges and struggles to fit in and self manage his symptoms. Thomas requires quite a bit of help from adults in order to recognize when he needs to take a deep breath, walk away for a sensory break or take the necessary steps to get through an anxiety attack. We have only recently begun looking at medication management which makes me want to throw up, which coincidentally is one of Thomas’s biggest phobias, which is another story for another day.

Any parent of a child with special needs will tell you that it’s not just the child that is affected but the entire family. Leah, Mark and I are also struggling with SPD and anxiety but not in the same way that Thomas has to struggle. The past 10 years has had a significant impact on our family emotionally, physically and financially and some days I wish that there was a pill that would take it all away because I just want my Thomas to feel happy, content and relaxed. I want our family to feel happy, content and relaxed.

I recently took the kids to see the Minion Movie.  Leah settled into her seat, in four year old heaven, her hands elbow deep in buttered popcorn, eyes wide, giggling at all the jokes and punch lines.  Thomas, however, had a very different experience. Within the first 15 minutes, I noticed the tell tale signs of a full blown anxiety attack. I went into combat mode and was ready to battle. I began to assess the situation.  Was it the strong smelling perfume of the woman sitting in front of us? What it the sudden darkness of the theater? Was it his own excitement about seeing the movie that has now turned on his anxiety switch? Was it the incredibly intense volume in the movie theater? Quick fact check here:

The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration requires hearing protection in factories at 85 dB, but its regulations do not cover theaters where peak noise levels have been reported to exceed 110 dB

I could feel the heat radiating off of his body so I wrapped my arms around him and squeezed him tight, which usually helps him feel calm as he begins to regulate. His clammy hands reached for mine and I whispered in his ear that he could go to the lobby if he needed a break. He shook his head no, reaching for his stomach and  then leaning toward me to say that he thought he was going to throw up (again a HUGE phobia of his). I noticed that his breathing was rapid and shallow so I reminded him to take a deep breath. As I pulled him closer to me I could feel his heart pounding against his little chest. I quickly pulled out the ear plugs that I keep in my purse and helped Thomas place them in his ears. He took a few more deep breaths and crawled into my lap so that I could give him a better squeeze, which can be a challenge when your child is 75 pounds and 4 ft 9 inches tall.  I turned to look at Leah who was smiling from ear to ear shoving popcorn into her little heart shaped mouth, completely oblivious to what was going on.  I sat there for a minute, contemplating my options. I could take him to the lobby but then I would have to leave my four year old daughter in the theater alone. I could bring her with us to the lobby but then I would have to tell her what was happening and she always worries about her “Bubba” when he cries. I did not want to ruin the movie for her because she was having so much fun. As my arms started to shake from the viper squeeze I was performing on my son, I felt his muscles begin to relax and breathing return to normal. Eventually he was calm enough to return to his seat and finish the movie, all the way to the end.

Some days I feel raw and vulnerable because I’m not sure how much more I can take. Other days I feel bitter and pissed off and I just want a freaking break, one day without tears, anxiety, or sensory overload. Sometimes our family and friends don’t understand. I feel like we are being judged for being neurotic, over-reacting, helicopter parents. I recently read an article written by a mother of a child with mental illness. She said something that really spoke to me.

“When your child is different, you feel exposed. If your child demonstrates behavior issues, it’s as if you’re walking around with a big flashing neon “BAD PARENT” sign attached to your head.”

I know, I know, I know, I’m not a bad parent. I am trying my hardest. I want what is best for my son, blah blah blah! My brain is telling me all of these things but some days I just don’t believe the rational thoughts that are swimming in my head. Especially tonight. Tonight was an especially difficult night for our boy. A new medication that was supposed to help curb his anxiety and help him feel more calm and focused, had the exact opposite effect. He was yelling, upset, crawling out of his skin and the only thing that would calm him was to crawl into a tight space in our master closet and hide underneath the piles of clothes and boxes because the pressure calms him down. I find it ironic that my child finds tight places calming because I am ferociously afraid of tight spaces.

Our son tries so hard to fit in with the other kids. He’s not as fast, not as coordinated, not as confident. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch and some days I just don’t know what else to do. it. The therapists and professionals tell us, “Continue to encourage him to participate in those kinds of things.” And we do. I search the local Activity guides and sign him up for things like tree climbing, Tae Kwan Do, and guitar lessons. He frequently quits halfway through the season because he cannot bare the thought of performing poorly in front of his peers. We try so hard to help him develop good healthy friendships but I cannot even keep track of how many times we have had to leave a birthday party early because the noise was just too much for him to take. There have been 12:30 am phone calls from other parents saying that Thomas was in tears and just could not make it through the sleepover at a friend’s house.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been accomplishments. He is seeing a therapist who is teaching us new ways to encourage Thomas to express himself and learn better coping strategies. At 10 years old, he finally found the courage to join the swim team. this past summer. During the two months of swim season, I worried every day that he would begin comparing himself to the other children. I worried that the starting buzzer would be too loud for him, triggering his flight or fight response. I worried that he would give up in the middle of swimming a lap and not make it to the finish line, while his peers watched in dismay. I worried when he got strep, an ear infection and another tooth abcess (all at the same time) that he would loose his motivation. I spent the entire swim team season isolating myself from the other moms. I was not willing to be subjected to the comparisons of their exceptionally athletic children to my sweet boy who was finally proud of himself and worked so hard to be an “average” swimmer. He did not come in first or even second or third and was disqualified several times due to an incorrect stroke but he still swam his little heart out and finished each race. More importantly he finished the season!

I am fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to be surrounded by parents of children with disabilities. I help families get connected to resources for their children. I listen with empathy to parents as they explain the frustrations of raising a child with a disability. I attend conferences where I meet wonderful professionals who are doing great work in the disability arena. All of my co-workers are parents of children with disabilities and some have disabilities themselves. I am completely immersed in the disability field and yet why do I still feel so damn inadequate regarding my son and his special needs? Why do I allow his setbacks to nearly break me in two?

Tomorrow, I am conducting a presentation on the program I am directing. The audience will be filled with parents of children with disabilities. I spent most of today working on my power point presentation, researching data and figuring out what I would say and how I would say it. I was starting to feel a bit inadequate as a professional and then we had tonight’s “incident” with Thomas. I realized that sometimes I feel inadequate as a parent, as well. Tonight was a bit of a set back for Thomas because he has been doing so much better.  As I sit and reflect on the day I realize that the best thing I can do during my presentation is be a parent FIRST, and a professional second. I am just like every person that will be in the audience tomorrow. As parents of children with special needs, we have days when we second guess ourselves. We have days when we feel that we just cannot take anymore. We have days that take us to our knees. We also have days when our children make tiny accomplishments and we relish in the glory. We grab onto those tiny accomplishments and let them warm our souls, re-energize our depleted bodies and refresh our exhausted minds. So, tomorrow I will wake up and be a parent to Thomas and Leah. I’ll get them fed and dressed for school and then I’ll head off to work for my presentation. I will try to remember that I am a professional with 21 years of experience in the disability and special needs field but, I will also remember that I am a mom FIRST.

It takes a village……

Last night, I was at the grocery store picking up a few items for the kid’s lunches. As I made my way to the cash register, I chose to get in line behind a man and a young girl about 10 years old who was pushing a cart of groceries. A baby boy, no more than 14 months old, was strapped safely in the grocery cart.

The girl had a notebook in her hand and was marking off the grocery items in her cart, one by one.  I assumed that the girl and the baby boy were with the man in front of the line but as he finished his transaction, he left the store briskly. The little girl began to unload the groceries, one by one, taking special care with the fragile items like the bread and eggs. The baby in the cart began to squirm and protest. The young girl whispered something into his ear to which he responded by smiling at her and settling down quickly. I marveled at her maturity and continued to watch her. I could not ignore the tiny mom alarm that started to quietly buzz inside my head.

Glancing around, I scanned the area for an adult that might be making his or her way back to the cash register. I reassured myself that this little girl’s parent had likely instructed her to get in line and unload the groceries while they grabbed a few more items. I’ve done that before myself. Thomas likes to help at the grocery store and would have enjoyed the opportunity for some extra responsibility.  The baby boy, who was facing me from his position in the grocery cart, looked up and smiled revealing four little white teeth. I smiled back and made a funny face that he found hysterical, laughing a sweet little baby belly laugh.

As the little girl emptied the last item from her cart, she pulled out a $50 gift card, one single blank check and handed them to the cashier.  I glanced around, more frantically this time, searching for a mom rushing down the aisle, yelling, “I’m coming, just a second”. I quickly scanned the faces of all the men around me, hoping her dad would race up to the register apologizing because he left his wallet in the car.

Suddenly, my mom radar was in over-drive. I was keenly aware of the fact that this young girl appeared to be all alone, with a baby, a cart of groceries, a gift card and a blank check. I began to notice that every single adult in the general vicinity was in tune with what was happening. The cashier stopped scanning items, the bagger stopped loading groceries, the woman behind me craned her neck to see around my shoulder, my heart sped up a bit and we all grew silent as we slowly began to process what was happening and search for answers or possible solutions.

I’m not one to judge and I usually take in all the information before jumping to conclusions. In my line of work, we face crisis situations often and I’ve learned that it is always best to stop, think and search for information before acting. There are always two sides to the story and I like to give the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe her dad was in the bathroom, sick and needs some help. Perhaps her mom was waiting in the car because she is agoraphobic and scared to enter the store. Maybe her grandmother was next door getting a pedicure and the little girl offered to help with the groceries before the store closed. I remained silent as my brain scanned through all of the possible reasons why a 10 year old girl would be sent into a grocery store with a baby, a gift card and a blank check.

Reluctantly, the cashier scanned the gift card and deducted the $50 from the total bill which was somewhere around $85. I watched her reach for the blank check, read the front, flip it over, flip it over again and then turn slowly to call for the store manager. I shuffled my feet nervously, feeling the urge to step in and do something, anything. Should I ask the little girl where her parents are? The manager arrived seconds later and I watched her put on her reading glasses, reach for the check, read the front, flip it over, then flip it over again. Slowly the manager lifted her head, peered over her glasses and squinted at the girl. At this point my mom radar was sounding off as loud as a fire alarm and I edged my way toward the child.

The manager pursed her lips tightly together, exhaled and said, “Honey, even if your mom was here, I would ask to see her ID.”  She looked down at the blank check and said, “I’m pretty sure you are not (insert mother’s name here), so I can’t accept this check.”

Crestfallen, the little girl reached into her pocket, pulled out a smartphone and said, “I can call my mom for you. I have her cell phone.”

The manager replied, “Honey, if you have her cell phone then how will you reach her? Is she not here?”

No response.

The little girl turned to me, her forehead wrinkled in the middle with concentration, maybe worry, maybe panic, I’m not quite sure which and said, “I’m sorry this is taking so long. If I had known, I would have let you go first.”

At that very moment, the adults, that had been quietly observing what was taking place, began to speak all at once. The manager, cashier and bagger gathered in a tight huddle and began to whisper to one another. I heard two adults behind me say something about the baby being left with a 10 year old. The woman in the line next to us whispered that she was impressed with the little girl’s maturity.

I could not contain myself anymore. I reached out to the young girl, touched her shoulder and ran my hand through the ends of her hair, like us moms do sometimes when we are talking to children. “Sweetheart you are doing a fantastic job. You have done nothing wrong.”

She smiled shyly at me and then turned back to face the store manager, who was still peering over her reading glasses. The manager glanced at me, and without words, she knew what I was thinking and what every other adult was thinking at that time. This little girl was in a difficult situation, none of us had all of the information and most importantly, it was not her fault.

“Honey, come with me.” the manager said.

The bagger placed the groceries back into the cart and the young girl began to wheel the baby and cart over to the information desk. The only sound was the beeping of the machine as my groceries were scanned. The cashier, the bagger, the lady behind me, we were all silenced by our thoughts.  After purchasing my groceries, I lingered for several more minutes, watching from a distance as the manager spoke quietly to the little girl. Several employees had gathered around the information desk and were helping. One employee tickled the baby on his tummy, much to his chagrine. I fought the urge to run over and offer to help but from experience, having too much of an audience would have only drawn more attention to the young girl who was already embarrassed. Once I felt that there were enough people to help problem solve, I reluctantly left the store.

I could not sleep last night because I could not get those two children out of my head. I wish that I had stayed a little longer. Did the grown ups over-react? Perhaps there was a reasonable explanation, I’m not sure. The one thing I do know is that a group of adults stepped up last night, in a collaborative effort, to help a child in a difficult situation.  I would like to think that as parents, we don’t judge one another too harshly. Moms and dads make decisions on a daily basis that impact our children.  Sometimes we make fantastic decisions and sometimes we don’t. As a mother, I have discovered that my instincts are innate, they compel me to react, and they are never wrong. I think that it’s important for a community to take note of what is happening around us. We have to pay attention, we can’t ignore the alarms that go off in our heads especially when it comes to children.  Remember, it takes a village to raise a child and last night, the village stood tall.