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I’m Not the Parent You Think I Am

Why is it we feel the need to label parents? More importantly, are any of us truly in a position to draw conclusions and pass judgment based on observing a few moments of a complete stranger's day?

We never know everything about another person’s situation, even our own friends. How can we possibly think we understand a stranger?

My child has epilepsy. So I supervise her very closely in certain situations. Heights and water represent the two greatest dangers. If she had a seizure under either of those conditions it could mean injury, even death.

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I do what my child’s doctor has told me I HAVE to in order to keep her safe. It’s not a choice I’m making or a parenting philosophy I “subscribe” to. It is a necessity.

Some people observing me with my daughter have possibly pinned me a "Helicopter Mom." I’ve read a lot about what people think about this type of parenting. And as far as I am concerned, the problem is theirs, not mine.

Those who might be tempted to label my parenting have never witnessed:

My daughter having a seizure. There is no way for me to describe how terrifying and disturbing it is to watch your child have a seizure. How helpless you feel. How angry and distraught. How much you worry about when the next one will come and agonize over the fact you can’t keep it from happening.

My daughter taking her twice-daily anti-seizure mediation. She’s such a big girl about it. It tastes terrible, but she never complains. She insists on shaking, measuring and administering the medication herself. She knows what time she is supposed to take it, and why.

They’re only seeing a snapshot of our lives.

My daughter having her blood drawn. This one she’s not as brave about. She used to be. But a bad experience with needles in the emergency room left her traumatized. She has to have regular blood tests because of the medication she takes. And every time I have to forcibly hold her down, crying my own tears as I listen to her wail.

My daughter having an EEG. She’s had three of these in her young life. While painless, they involve a great deal of patience on her part. On no sleep, because we have to keep her up all night in advance. She stayed in the hospital for one of these tests, losing her favorite lovey, “White Kitty,” in the process.

My daughter having an MRI. There have been two of these tests. Because of her age, she has to go under anesthesia. To which she has had a severe reaction. Doctors refer to it as, “emergence delirium.” For us, it was pure hell. The single worst day of my life.

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I don’t expect people to know any of this. There’s no way they can; they don’t know us. They’re only seeing a snapshot of our lives. I’d ask them, if I had the opportunity, to recognize that and resist assigning labels.

What I hope people see when they observe me with my daughter is a parent doing the best she can. Just like them.

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