Worst moment of my life.

If you're a parent, then you've probably been there. The moment you realize that you lost your child.

It happened to me. In my home. Sort of.

Let me set the scene. We allow our son, who is 2 years old, to play on our screened-in back porch unsupervised. On this particular morning, I could hear him playing, and playing, and playing, and then silence. But it was one of those moments where the silence didn't hit me until it had been minutes of silence.

I'm sick to my stomach even thinking about it.

What made this moment so awfully nightmarish is when I realized that he was outside and we live only feet away from a busy road.

Sick. Sick. Sick.

I was nursing my daughter at the time. I flew out of the house, with her still attached. The minute I realized he was gone, I yanked her off and set her down. I set her down so fast that she fell over and hit her head. She was screaming. I was screaming. As I ran down the back steps into our backyard, I heard the cars rushing by. I kept screaming and screaming.

And then I saw him.

He was running my way, parallel to the street.

Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you. Thank you.

He was safe. He was alive. And apparently he had been having the time of his life.

He was covered, absolutely covered, in mud.

I didn't care. I scooped him up so fast, and finally, I breathed.

It was then that it hit me that my heart was racing and my baby girl was on the ground, still screaming.

But I couldn't let go of him. I just couldn't.

I had just endured the absolute worst moment of my life.

As it turns out, I had failed to lock the back door (he can open the door if it's not locked). You better believe that I'm obsessive-compulsive about locking that door now.

Hours after the incident I was still edgy. No longer shaking, but I could still feel the pit in my stomach.

The thought of losing my son had become a reality. If even for a minute, it was a reality that I never, ever want to experience again.

I gave in.

Here's the truth:

I'm a lot more over-protective than I'd like to admit.

Helicopter parenting makes me bonkers, while the term free-range-parent is music to my ears.

But that was all before my son met the four-wheeler.

I first heard about it after a weekend away from my son. He and his father (I refer to my husband as "his father" anytime the two of them are getting into trouble, which happens to be more and more frequently) had gone down home (my in-laws' house) for a weekend of hunting and shooting and other city-absent activities.

I called my in-laws' house to check-in, and it was no surprise that my son and his father were unable to talk because 400 acres of pure nature are much too inviting for two trouble-making boys (I refer to my husband as a boy when he is getting into trouble with my other boy. Again, this happens to be the case more and more frequently.)

So my in-laws gave me a few updates, assuring me that both boys were doing well and having too much fun to be missing me (as evidenced by the neglect to check-in with us girls).

But in talking to my in-laws, I was suddenly blindsided with a tidbit of information that only a city-girl can appreciate.

My son, my itty-bitty baby boy, had been on the 4-wheeler. And by 4-wheeler, I mean 500 pounds of off-roading DANGER.

Oi vey.

I tried to pull myself together. Inside, I was spinning. All I could think about . . . Was he strapped in? Was he wearing a helmet? Was he, was he, was he ALIVE?

Can you tell I was raised in the city?

Fast-forward to that evening when I FINALLY spoke with my boys, and I was able to address my irrational and ridiculous rational and normal concern excitedly and fervently calmly and gently with the boy's father my husband. He listened (bless his heart), and he agreed to waiting until I was ready before my sweet, sweet boy could ride the death machine again.

You would think we were deciding on whether or not our son was old enough to ride his bike all by himself to Seven Eleven. Or use his allowance to buy a M-rated video game. Or borrow the car to take his girlfriend to a late night movie.

Breathe, Ali, breathe.

Needless to say, I had some settling down to do.

But something happened as I began to settle.

I started to realize that I wasn't really afraid of what could happen. In fact, my fear had nothing to do with my baby falling off the beast-on-wheels.

No, instead of fearing head trauma, my fear had everything to do with letting go. Letting go of my baby. And knowing that part of my job as parent is allowing him to have experiences that have nothing to do with me.


Sure, there was the possibility that something terrible could happen to him. But he was in the care of his grandparents and daddy who love him more than words can express.

And it's that very love that makes letting go of my little man so heartbreaking.

Knowing that my baby is beginning his journey as Henry, not as my baby. And the fact of the matter is that I won't be there for every Henry moment.

So when my son and his father went back down home for another weekend of weapons and dead turkeys, I didn't fuss. I didn't whine and search for excuses why my baby shouldn't ride the four-wheeler.

Nope. I gave in.

And if I couldn't be there to witness another of my son's Henry moments, I insisted that they at least take lots of pictures.

I love you, boys . . . both my son and his father :)

Best mom moment ever.

Like many two-year-old boys, my son struggles to verbally communicate. In fact, most of his meltdowns stem from his inability to tell me what he needs or wants. Much of the time he uses pointing and grunting to communicate, and today he used his non-verbals to melt my heart.

I was putting him in his crib for his nap, and as I set him down, he leaned into me, offering me a kiss. I was so touched. I leaned down and gave him a giant smooch on his head, and then he leaned into me again, this time wrapping his arms around me, offering me a hug. I nearly died. Never has my son offered me a kiss and hug without prompting. I couldn't believe that he initiated it.

Could. Not. Believe. It.

And here's the kicker. As I walked away from my most precious son, tears in my eyes, I said, "Oh, Henry baby, I love you so much it hurts." And you know what he said in return?


Though he didn't understand what I meant by love-you-so-much-it-hurts, he does understand that hurt and ouch go hand-n-hand.

Henry Duran Hooper, thank you for providing me with the absolute best mom moment ever.

And Henry, one more thing, Ouch, baby, ouch.

*Thank you, Gabe Taviano, for capturing this amazing picture of my son.

Non-Maternal Instincts

Nonmaternal Instinct

One of those days

I'm having one of those days.

One of those days when I wonder why God even gave me a brain because all I ever do is nurse and surely the only part of my body that serves any purpose is the same part of my body that causes me disgust when I look in the mirror (gravity, you are mean, mean, mean).

One of those days when I wish the changing table came with those straps that they used to tie down my arms when I shimmied my big pregnant butt onto the operating table so that they could surgically remove the same baby that now kicks and squirms and twists when I change his diaper.

One of those days when I open my closet and see: tank top, sweatpants, tank top, sweatshirt, tank top, maternity top, maternity top, sweatpants, stretchy jeans - the reality of my life equates to one lame wardrobe. The bottom of my closet is lined with leather stilettos and six-inch peep-toe wedges, a sick reminder of a life that once was.

One of those days when my son wipes his forever snotty nose on the curtains, and I don't even flinch nor do I plan on doing anything about it.

One of those days when I contemplate opening the front door and letting the dog run for his life. I don't chase after him.

One of those days when my son has spent half the morning in time-out, and though he's been disobedient, my fuse is short. It's a bad combination.

One of those days when my daughter has spent more time crying and less time being consoled, because frankly, I'm not in the mood.

It's been one of those days.

But you know what? It's only one day. It might be one very ugly day, but it's only one day. Just one day of me bitchin' and groanin' and moanin'. Just one l-o-n-g day and I'll pout my miserable self to bed and pray for forgiveness. Because let's face it. I'm the one choosing to be a pisser about nursing and diaper changing and snotty noses and a yellow lab and frumpy clothes and a crying baby and a testy toddler. It's not their fault that I'm having one of those days.

Today may be one of those days, but tomorrow doesn't have to be. God is so stinkin' gracious like that.

*I wrote this several days ago.

Non-Maternal Instincts

Nonmaternal Instinct

You know you have a toddler when . . .

His forehead (and elbows, knees, shins, and hands) require you to constantly tell of his most recent tumble simply so that no one suspects you of child abuse.

Your husband comes home from a long day at work and says, "Somebody's been sitting in my chair." (Shh, don't tell.)

You experience a moment of, "Oh Dear Lord, I've lost my child!" only to find him giggling away right under your nose.

You find him watching cartoons from the most unusual of surfaces.

And in the most uncomfortable of positions.

Once again, you think that you have lost him and will surely find him knocked unconscious somewhere in your house only to find that he's wiggled his way onto the back porch and is having the time of his life.

He begins to emulate you. (You might find this to be cute at first, but it soon becomes frightening.)

Your dining room table was last seen in 2008 and can now be found buried underneath this:

You begin to accumulate items such as this:

You often find your dog communicating to you, "it wasn't me this time, I promise."

Your once well-fed dog has given up on eating and drinking for fear of what he might find in his bowl.

So instead, he has retreated to this: