Moment by Minute by Day by Year

{Stephanie: 2008 & 2014}

The girls came home for the first time on the Friday before Easter 2008. On Saturday, my mom and I thought it would be fun to take them shopping to buy Easter shoes.

We were wrong.

Hannah, age six, only wanted high heels and pouted when we finally decided what pair to buy. Stephanie, age four, wanted more than one pair. She wanted every single pair. She refused to leave unless she got all of the shoes on the shelf.

She screamed.
Went limp.


Wailing. Flailing. Howling.

It wasn’t fun.

I stood there, looking down on her wriggling body, hair sticking to her wet, red face, and wondering what to do next. I looked over at my mom. She was horrified.

I’m sure it didn’t take years to get Stephanie out of the store, but it felt like it. I knew it was irrational to think we would never go shopping together again. It would, however, be a long time until I took her without Andy as backup.

On Black Friday, we went shopping for new dress clothes for Steph. Stephanie is a five foot, eight inch, one hundred and sixty pound ten year old. Finding a perfect outfit is a challenge. Even finding jeans and a sweatshirt can be an all out hunt, let alone finding dress clothes.

I’m happy to report that I no longer need to take Andy for backup when we go shopping. There were no fits in the middle of stores. There wasn’t even backtalk or eye rolls. In fact, it was…


Someone even commented how sweet and polite my daughter was (!).

I smiled and said, “Thank you.”

Two words don’t even come close to the whole story. I told Andy about the woman’s comment in the store. “At least there are some days,” Andy said.

This is what matters most. There are some days when she is respectful. There was a time when we just hoped for minutes.

Moments of respect.

Minutes without defiance.

Yes, we counted minutes. I set the timer and Stephanie would see if she could go 3 minutes and be respectful the entire time. Over the next six weeks we worked our way up to 10 minute stints. It was a challenge and more often than not she failed to be respectful for an entire 10 minutes.

Six years and the fact that there are whole entire, even multiple, days of respect is nothing short of a miracle.

This is what healing looks like. It’s not always instant, but it is always powerful. She is healing, moment by minute by day by year. Her tongue is still sharp, but her heart is learning respect.

It’s one of many things that makes her beautiful.

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