Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Poisonous Chew Toy

I was feeling restless that morning. Bored. A dull to do list so long that I wasn't sure where to direct my attention first.

We had nothing exciting planned for that day. A doctor's appointment for Addison. Naptime. Maybe a trip to the grocery store. Signing Time. Hopefully a load of laundry.

I love the open schedule of being a stay at home mom. It does wonderful things for my free spirit. I can plan anything I want. But some days, this translates into a super boring day with nothing extraordinary planned. A day made up of tiny errands and insignificant chores that seem silly...but necessary when your husband arrives home and you want to have something to offer him to eat that wasn't picked up in the McDonald's drive through...and clean clothes for the kids after their bath.

But that morning I felt a spirit of discontent welling up inside of me. I wanted more from my day. Something exciting. Something amazing. Something that would make me smile and grin and text all of my friends with earth shatteringly good news.

Since I do the same thing day after day after day after day- I find it easy to lose perspective. What am I really doing? What am I truly accomplishing?

That day perspective was completely gone. My spirit was waning. My complaining thoughts were running a hundred miles a minute. I wanted more.

I was fixing the kids their pre-nap snack. That day it was maple oatmeal with sliced banana. I was grinning to myself predicting that they would both struggle with the banana, picking through it for only the oatmeal that they love. I was trying to figure out how to convince them to give the fruit a try when Carter Henry sailed by me from the kitchen to the Dining Room- chewing on something.
I asked him what he had, and he looked guilty. Warning bells started to go off in my head. Fighting against him (when did he get so strong?), I captured the small plastic bottle that he was using as a chew toy. What was this? I had never seen it before. It was small. It was clear. It had a long, tapered top. Most of the label had been worn off, but when I flipped it over I read FATAL IF SWALLOWED.

Feeling faint and not a little panicked, I started to ask him if he swallowed any, but since he was now ignoring me I stopped and studied the bottle instead. I could see deep teeth marks- he had been working so hard at opening the tapered top. I flipped it upside down and squeezed hard. Nothing came out. No liquid came dribbling out of a hole. I did this over and over and over again. Nothing.

Not really feeling better I frantically called Aaron. What was this bottle? I had never seen it before. Where did Carter get it from? Should I call the doctor even though the bottle looked dry? We take extreme care to store everything that can even "cause irritation" way high and far out of the children's reach. The fact that this was obviously so dangerous and I had never even seen it before made me feel extremely out of control of my children's safety. And scared.

Turns out it was an small plastic tube of oil that goes with Aaron's clipper kit. This clipper kit rarely gets used around here and usually is locked away while Aaron's hair and beard grows quite unruly. The plastic extensions that go with his clipper had been left in a box on the bathroom counter, and Carter reached up, brought the seemingly innocent box down, and carefully combed through it while I was making oatmeal- selecting the one (hidden) fatal ingredient in the entire box. An ingredient I didn't even know existed until that minute.

Parenting toddlers- curious toddlers- evil toddlers...not as relaxing and easy as the brochures make it out to be.

At that point Carter was heartily eating his maple oatmeal- picking out all bananas. He took a nice big bobble, and then fell asleep for his nap- totally unruffled from the incident.

Have you ever sat in your child's room while they sleep- counting each breath? I did that day.

I knew that there was no way Carter swallowed any of this oil because no matter how hard I squeezed the bottle, I couldn't get any liquid out. The top had to be cut off to be opened, and it was still tightly sealed. His teeth marks, though deep, hadn't penetrated the bottle enough to create even the tiniest of holes. But the thought that he carried it around, chewing on a container holding poison while I was busy thinking how bored I was with today- terrified me.

The rest of the day I kept staring at him wondering- is this "extra" time? The day was no longer boring. Every moment- every warm embrace- every smile- every babbling discussion- every clever working of those chubby fingers to cause trouble- they were all amazingly precious. And exciting. And earth shattering.

Extra reading time wasn't a chore- it was a privilege. His warm cheek rested against mine, and his strong back leaned against my arm. Watching him sneak extra homemade granola wasn't messy - it was gratifying to see him eat with a healthy appetite. Chasing after him to change his outfit wasn't annoying- it was a relief to see how strong and able he is. When he put on his shoe backwards and then gave me the evil eye when I laughed at him- it was the most hysterical, exciting, wonderful moment as I watched him grow up just a little bit more.
When Addison went through her first year of medical drama- the heart surgeries, the inability to feed herself, the oxygen, the long NICU stay- I lived every day with this attitude of thankfulness. A frantic "I don't know how long I'll get so I'm going to make today count" sort of thing.

But now that they are both healthy and strong? I take them for granted. I take life for granted. I take my job and "boring" days for granted.

I felt like God sent me a little message that day.  A wake up call. A reminder.

No matter how hard I try to protect them. No matter how careful my precautions are against danger. No matter how intensely I wrap them in a mental blanket of safety- things will happen outside of my control. Things will enter our lives that weren't a part of my plan. No matter how meticulously I baby proof my house- things can still crop up that leave me shaking in fear. And this is why trust in a being much greater than myself brings me great peace as a parent. I may not be in control. But He is.

Every day is a gift. The small lives in my care that cause so much work- a gift and a blessing. The title "mother"- not something to be taken lightly. The knowledge that two little bodies are sleeping peacefully in their nurseries at night is not just to be assumed. The insignificant, "silly", small errands and chores that make up my day as a stay at home mom are my calling- my destiny- my greatest good. The newest item that shot to the top of my to do list- search house over from top to bottom for any more surprises-doesn't seem dull at all.

Feeling chastened from the events of that morning, I have since wondered- why in the world would I want more from my day when I already have it all?

In other news:
In case you missed it- an excerpt from my newest ebook was published on Momastery this week.

There is only one week left to enter the thank you ebook giveaway. 
Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.


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