I recognized those looks. The judgmental looks I was getting from a couple who clearly thought I was a crazy person. Although I didn’t appreciate the looks they were giving me, I could understand why they were looking at me like I had lost my mind. They were watching a grown woman climb up into the play area at a Chick-fil-A while they were eating their dinner. I am sure that what they saw wasn’t the norm, but for me, the crazy lady… this is my normal.
If you were to ever see me with my daughter, you might think I am a little overprotective. At parks, I am right by her side. When she is spinning circles, I am right by her side. When she is jumping on a trampoline, I am right by her side. She is almost three years old and is getting pretty coordinated and isn’t as likely to do the random, hazardous things that she used to do. So, why do I follow my daughter like a hawk, sometimes embarrassing myself in the process?
Well, you see, she may look like your average almost three year old. She is tall, still has a little baby fat, has adorably curly hair, and a big smile on her face. Those are things that make her who she is, but there is something else about her that makes me the overprotective momma bear that I am (and quite honestly, this post has been really hard for me to write because I just haven’t wanted to put it out there because it makes it even more real and I just get so sad every time I think about it).
My little girl has seizures.
I honestly can’t think of any time in my life that I have felt more helpless than when she has a seizure. The sounds, movements, and looks on her face are enough to completely scar me to the core. After she has a seizure, it is all I can think about for days. When they are happening, there is absolutely nothing I can do for her to make her better and it makes me feel so sick. Now, I know that it isn’t like I am finding out that my daughter has some terminal illness that some parents actually do have to deal with their children having. I know that there are worse situations that we could be in. That isn’t why I am writing this. I am not looking for sympathy. This is my plea to all of you.
My plea is this… Please stop judging other parents for how they may be with their kids. If it doesn’t look like a child is in any sort of harm because of the parent, don’t judge the parent on how they react to different situations. You just really don’t ever know what the entire story is. As outsiders, the couple at Chick-fil-A saw a crazy mom leaving the side of her friend to climb up into the giant toy to find her daughter while they giggled to themselves because of the scene. That wasn’t the whole story. I don’t ever let my daughter play on playgrounds alone because her seizures are caused by head trauma and if she bumps her head to hard, she could have a seizure right there on the toy and put herself into danger because of her lack of control during a seizure. When we went to Chick-fil-A, I had met a friend there that I only get to see about once a year. We ate dinner together and wanted to keep visiting, so I offered to have us go in the play area and sit there while we let my daughter play on the toy. There weren’t any other kids in there and there aren’t any drop offs or anything, so I let her climb up and play by herself in the tubes. She played really well and we watched her go down the slide for a while and she climbed back up into the tubes where we couldn’t see her, but could hear her singing and playing. All of a sudden, two boys who were clearly older than the sign said should be allowed in the area came bursting through the doors and started tearing through the toys. They were going really fast and were being so loud that I could no longer hear my little girl who was playing nicely in the tubes. They were tearing through the tubes so quickly that I worried that they would have knocked her over while they were trying to get to the slide. I panicked. Was she up there seizing without me knowing? I climbed up the toys to see her sitting quietly in the corner, waiting for the big kids to leave. Thankfully nothing was wrong.
Was she in any serious danger? No, probably not. Did I deserve the looks I got from those parents? Definitely not. This entire experience with these seizures has completely opened my eyes. I have probably been the judgmental girl who has given those looks to parents in the past. You never know. Maybe that child has autism. Maybe that child has seizures. Maybe that child has developmental delays of some sort. Not all issues that parents deal with can be seen by the naked eye.
So yes, I am that overprotective mom who stalks her child around everywhere she goes. Yes, the thoughts of sending her to preschool terrifies me. Yes, the thoughts of sending her to play dates terrifies me. Yes, the thoughts of her playing at parks terrifies me. That doesn’t mean I let it ruin it all though. Will she go to preschool? Yes. Does she have play dates? Yes. Does she go to the park? Yes, but probably not as often as some kids do and guess what? That’s okay!
We try to focus on the fun things that we CAN do and we do them often. Her life might not be as full of slides and trampolines as some kids, but it is just as full of joy and laughter as any kid. Nothing can keep us from that. So as I try to face my fears each day by letting her do more and more, I ask you to stop judging other parents. You never know what fears they may be facing.
(Both of our shirts can be found on The Printed Palette)