Written By:  Tiffany Verzal @ Stand with Faith

“Busy”, “multi-task”, “stress”, and “schedule” are just a few terms that get thrown around our home on a weekly basis. I am sure those words are the same for most families these days. Between school, homework, extra-curricular activities, volunteering, the PTO, playdates, budgets, grocery shopping, family and friends, church…and, oh yeah, that pesky little thing called work, there is barely time to think! My shoulders tense just thinking about surviving the last few days of this week!

I am a good morning person. Even when I am tired, I am sure that I can conquer the world. By noon, I’m 10 tasks behind where I had anticipated. Several times a week I’ll stay up until the wee hours of the night just to make up for what I didn’t get done. Now, I know that I am not the only one. I’ve been getting RSVP’s for Alexis’ birthday party and a majority of the moms are emailing me after 10:30 at night.

Most of the time we are just skimming by, getting things done in the nick-of-time and leaving a to-do list a mile long. At the same time we read the words, “take care of yourself”, or “stop and smell the roses.” I don’t know about you, but I am afraid if I take my eye off the prize (crossing another task off the list), every ball I am juggling will not only drop, but scatter every which way across the floor and add another task to to the list.

It’s a nerve wracking thought. The good news is that I know better. I’m in a constant battle with these thoughts. And I know if my mind gets out of control, there will be something that will pull me back into focus. Such is the case with the heartbreaking events of the Sandyhook shooting. The aftermath has not only forced heated issues in our country, but has demanded all of us to stop and get a little perspective.

I haven’t had it in me to seek out stories about this topic, but Brandon ran across an article a week ago that stopped me in my tracks. The story was about Daniel Barden (age 7), one of the victims of the massacre. On the morning of the shooting, he ran out to the car in his pajamas as his 12-year-old brother was leaving, ignoring the 22 degree temperatures and giving him a kiss goodbye. His family said they had never seen him do it before and didn’t know what had brought it on.

After reading it, Brandon said, doesn’t that just remind you of the day Alexis got hurt? Yes it did.

It’s funny. Looking back, those first 14 months of Alexis’ were pretty darn easy. At the time I didn’t think so. As a first-time-mom I thought that adding “get baby ready and remember everything she needs” to my morning routine was a challenge. The morning that she was hurt just happened to be one of the days that we stopped and smelled the roses. We took our time getting ready that morning. Alexis ran for the first time. We both giggled as I chased her up the stairs instead of her letting me change her diaper. She walked out to the car by herself that morning too.

But the thought that still takes my breath away to this day was the way that she smiled and looked right into my eyes. It was piercing, and she did it all of the way to daycare. I kept turning around to look at her again and it was like she was digging into my soul. It wasn’t a look I had ever seen before, but I wasn’t sure what to make of it.

I even commented to Brandon about it on our way to work. I didn’t know that less than an hour later, that smile and the look in her eyes would carry me through the next 10 days until she opened them again.

I knew as she laid there in the hospital bed, that she was going to be OK. I knew that she loved us, and I knew that she knew that we loved her. She had been sending me that message – with that piercing look days earlier.

I’ve talked to dozens of parents and read several articles with similar stories. Some might argue that looking back prior to a traumatic event, it’s easy to pick out something unusual about the time prior to the event- but not something you would have ever thought about if it was just another normal day.

But in most of the cases, I very much disagree. We were talking about that unusual look Alexis gave me – long before anything had happened. Daniel’s parents were talking about his actions before he even left for school.

I don’t think it’s necessarily a 6th sense that kids have. I just think by the time we are adults- we are jaded and distracted. Between multi-tasking, tweeting, Facebook posting, blogging, working, cooking, laundry, budgeting, etc. I don’t think our minds are in a place to receive and transmit those messages that come from a place no one among us truly understands.

What are we missing among this chaos? What is it that a 14-month-old in Texas, or a 7-year-old in Connecticut is able to hear- that us adults never will?

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.