Written By:  Tiffany Verzal @ Stand with Faith

One of my favorite memories of Alexis before she was injured was  her running around our living room playing with her toys. She was such a busy body. I still laugh when I think about her stopping and dancing to any sort of music that she heard on a commercial. After the music stopped, she would continue doing whatever she was doing. I loved watching her. I think most parents enjoy watching their kids.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I actually realized how much that I have missed “watching” her. I mean really being able to sit back and watch what she does. She’s finally taking confident steps, and those confident steps are AWAY from her parents, who have had a good hold on her for the last several years.

It wasn’t until she got several steps away that I looked at her without anyone holding on to her and realized what a little independent person she has become. It seemed strange to me at first, but then it dawned on me, I am usually looking at her from directly above. I see the top of her head a lot more than I see the rest of her. When someone else has her, my focus is usually on how that person is handling her and how her balance is. It’s been nice to have a new perspective.

I have dreamed about her walking independently. It’s been years and thousands of hours of complete dedication to get her muscles to work and be strong enough for her to walk alone. For some reason I thought that the day she started walking, it would be like the ending of a movie where the symphony plays and everyone cheers. But it’s not. It’s like everything else has been, a very slow journey that gets a tiny bit better every day. Now she’s walking away, literally, and I am going to have to learn a new way of parenting.

For example, I was at a restaurant ordering with her. She wanted to look at the cookies by the bakery, so I let her hold on to the counter and slide over there. I dug in my purse for my wallet, and looked over to see how she was…not there. I turned around and she was five steps away from the door. So I calmly went and got her and had to explain that she can’t walk away from me in a public place. Who knew? We have never had to have that conversation before!

We attended my cousin’s wedding a couple of weeks ago, and Alexis was out on the dance floor with kids her age holding on to their hands and dancing! It is such a change from the times that both Brandon and I left wedding receptions exhausted and with backs that needed a serious chiropractic adjustment. It was such a simple thing, watching her dance just like I had done five years ago. Talk about a heart-filling moment.

These last several weeks have not been without some falls, bumps, and bruises. But she’s shaking it off and she just keeps going. The same thing she has been doing all along. By no means is she completely independent or walking independently all of the time. Her balance is hit and miss depending on the day. But she’s getting better, and she is showing us that there will come a day when we won’t need to be “hands on” anymore. It’s exciting for me and twice as scary.

As much as her not walking has caused my back to ache, I love it when I get to pick her up and she wraps her arms around me. For all of the times that I have spent wishing she could do a little bit more on her own, I am guessing that  a year from now I’ll probably be wishing that she still needed to hold my hand.

I always hear parents comment how they wished their kids were still little. That they still wanted to be held, snuggle, or even stood still long enough for a hug. I’m sure this transition will be tougher on Brandon and me than most; we’ve gotten 5 years of it while most parents barely get one. 

Tiffany Verzal

Tiffany Verzal was raised in rural Nebraska, and now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband Brandon and daughter Alexis (9) and Abby (2). In 2008, Alexis (then 14-months-old) was the victim of shaken baby syndrome at the hands of her daycare provider in Texas. Alexis suffered severe brain damage and has spent over 2000 hours in rehabilitation since her injury. Tiffany continues to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury, shaken baby syndrome and child abuse. Brandon and Tiffany serve as members on Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital’s Board of Trustees. Brandon is currently the Chairman of the Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board.