Friday, July 12, 2013

Why I Appreciated "Chick-fil-A Cow Appreciation Day"

Our day began with Chloe spinning too much in Lilli's therapy swing, crying, and throwing up from being dizzy. Then some sibling fighting, a messy breakfast, some potty training issues with Josh, and cleaning up all of that. Two baths later, we were back on track. Just another typical day here. Except that today, in this house that's usually filled with therapists working with two of my children, there was one highlight we were all looking forward to:

Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A.

We had plans to meet friends there for lunch for this fun annual event where everyone dresses up like a cow. I looked at the clock and figured we would need about an hour and a half to get all three kids and myself dressed like cows and out the door to Chick-fil-A.

I was wrong, it took two and a half hours. No helpers for Lilli here today. I explained multiple times to Josh that we were not dressing up like Spiderman to go to Chick-fil-A, we were going as cows, for Cow Day. We went through several Spiderman and cow outfit changes. Chloe cut out black spots and tails, and I dug up white clothes and made ears. Lilli was quiet and tolerated me dressing her in a white outfit and sticking spots on her. Finally, we were driving down the road covered in black construction paper spots with "Eat More Chikin" signs taped on our shirts and floppy black paper ears and tails. I took care to tape a barrette with cow ears on top of Lilli's head because headbands bother her.

When we pulled into the completely full parking lot, I was relieved to see one available handicapped parking spot for Lilli right next to the door. I parked and picked up the phone to call my friend. She is a new friend. She does not know us very well, and I knew I would need help getting these three inside. She answered her cell phone, and she was just telling me that they had saved seats for us when I glanced at Lilli in the rear view mirror.

She was having a seizure.

"Lilli's having a seizure, I gotta go!" I yelled into the phone and dropped it. I climbed back into the back of the van to her. Chloe covered her face with her hands, upset.  "This is terrible!" she said over and over as I tried to stay calm and tell all three kids that everything was going to be OK. Even though I was panicking inside, and I didn't really KNOW that everything was going to be OK. "Here, call Daddy," I said to Chloe. "I don't know how!" she wailed. I hit Jasen's number and handed her the phone. This was a mistake, because Chloe did not have the phone right on her ear. She kept saying, "Lilli's having a seizure, this is terrible" but she could not hear Jasen. I had to take the phone from her and tell him what was happening.

Even Josh was scared, I think because Chloe was saying over and over, "Lilli's having a seizure!" Josh started to say it too, yelling "Mommy, mommy!" Fortunately they were all still strapped in their car seats, so I didn't have to keep my eye on them as I pulled Lilli out and helped her.

She came out of the seizure, and I started to breathe again.

Now what? I wanted to get back in the driver's seat and drive back home. So many times I have been through this. It never gets easier. It is always just as shocking and scary. Just then my cell phone rang. It was my new friend. She had not heard me say that Lilli was having a seizure, because it was so loud and crazy inside Chick-fil-A  They were just sitting inside waiting for us. I explained that Lilli had a seizure, and she said she'd be right out to help. I told her we might not stay. I had to get my bearings because I was so overwhelmed. I gave Lilli a drink of water and she choked on it, coughing and sputtering.

"Wipe her mouth, mommy!" Chloe sat and watched her drooling sister with concern. I looked at Josh, who was still upset, and I said calmly, "Lilli is OK, we are all OK. Ok?" I fixed my headband with floppy black ears, and grabbed my cowbell. A bunch of black paper spots had fallen off of me onto the van floor when I was helping Lilli. I scooped a few up and slapped them back onto my white makeshift cow outfit. Really I did not even want to go in. My friend came out to the van and helped take Chloe and Josh by the hand to go inside.

When we got to the counter to order, I could not even think. Lilli was probably not feeling that great, and she was crying and shrieking with anger. After one ear-piercing scream, I heard a person nearby mutter, "Whoa." I know. It's loud. I'm sorry. I do not know what to do for her when she gets like that, except either leave, or push through it and hope and pray she gets happy again.

I had given her my phone to watch her favorite YouTube videos, and Youtube would not work. The sweet girl at the cash register was patiently trying to take my order between shrieks, and I said, distractedly, "Hi, um, ok, it's me... and three small cows. We'll take...whatever you want to give us." She laughed and nicely tried to help me through our order. If she only knew why I was acting so weird. I did not tell her that Lilli had special needs, but I'll bet she could tell something was up. My friend took Josh and Chloe back to the table, and I tried to balance the full tray and hold Lilli's hand. Lilli reached around in anger, shrieked, and grabbed the side of the tray, almost spilling it. I kept taking deep breaths. This was hard.

We got to the table, and Lilli was still upset. Finally I gave up on having them eat anything, and took all three of them into the play area. As soon as we did that, Lilli was happy. She loves being around other kids. She did not even climb up into the tunnel, she stood at the bottom and flapped her arms happily with a smile. I saw another mom I knew and we chatted a little. I kept trying to ignore the feeling of wanting to bolt out of there. The kids were having fun, while our food got cold on the table. I never even took one bite.

I realized suddenly with the instinct that only the mom of a potty training toddler has, that Josh needed to go to the potty, NOW. Or there would be trouble in the Chick-fil-A tunnel. I took Josh and Lilli by the hands and told Chloe to stay with my friend, we'd be right back. As I tried to steer the kids through the crowded restaurant, another friend I didn't even know was there popped up from a table and offered to take Lilli for me. What perfect timing.

When Josh and I got into the bathroom, my emotions threatened to overtake my mask of calmness. I felt the tears coming up, and had a thought that might have ruined it all: Lord, why did you give me these dear needy children? I'm not very good at this. And then this thought: Stop it. Get back out there.

So another deep breath, and back out we went. The kids played for a little while longer. I thanked my two friends for helping me, and saw the other mom I'd chatted with earlier. I told them all, "This is hard. I almost didn't come in because Lilli had a seizure in the van when we pulled in." The one mom hugged me, and said, "You're amazing. Bless you, you're a good mom. I can't believe you came in." My friend said, "You did it! You got through it, you came inside with your kids after Lilli had a seizure. Good job, you can go home and write down that you did that." (and I did.) My new friend that we'd sat with packed up all of our uneaten food in a bag and said, "You did the right thing. The kids had fun." She carried the food and my other friend carried Josh.  They helped us all out the door back into our van.

As I drove away from that experience with the free Chick-fil-A food we would heat up and eat later, I had one thought: I don't want much in life, just a little help from nice people. Cause life can be tiring and hard, but when you have people help you along the way, it's more bearable. Friends and family can make you smile through the craziness and tough times. And I know why Chick-fil-A just gave away all those meals to customers dressed like cows. They are just being nice. It was simple kindness.

When people are nice and help me, it reminds me that a little tiny bit of being nice and helpful goes a long, long way. The people that helped me today made my day. The nice girl at Chick-fil-A that sweetly placed my order and said "My pleasure" with a smile, despite my confusing order while my daughter with special needs had a meltdown, made my day. Kindness is worth way more than any chicken sandwich.

Thank you, kind friends, and thank you, Chick-fil-A. Just for being nice. I appreciated it.


  1. You are a great mom. I read this and think about how I have lately felt overwhelmed with a newborn and a 4 year old and I realize that that is nothing compared to what you are dealing with. Thank you for providing me with some much needed perspective. Hang in there. On a side note I have never eaten at a Chick-Fil-A, we don't have them up here. Maybe next time we are back in PA... :)

    1. Thanks. You can't compare us, we moms all have our own situations that overwhelm us. Sometimes it does help to look at someone else and think, "well, at least I don't have to deal with THAT." I do that sometimes and it helps me, ha ha. I do really like Chick Fil A, it's got a play area like Mc D's only it seems nicer and cleaner and the food's way better. They have all kinds of events, and tonight is "Pirate and Princess Night." Apparently all we have to do is dress up the kids like a pirate and princesses and they get free food, balloons, and they have bouncy houses and prizes and stuff. But here I am still getting over Cow Appreciation Day and I just don't know if I'm up for it. Maybe next year.

  2. Jennie you write beautifully and are an amazing mom. I wish you were closer and I could help out some when needed. My mom was always so proud of you and your family.
    Lynn Angelina

    1. Thanks Lynn, I always knew your mom was praying and that was a comfort to me.

  3. I am proud of you too. Thankful that God sent friends to care for and help you along the way. One day at a time, He will and does lead us through. With unexpected blessings along the way too. Honestly, learning to breathe to stay calm doesn't end in the delivery room...! Love you my friend!!!

    1. Thank you my sweet friend. I love that you understand.

  4. Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)