Author’s note: This is one of the most personal pieces I have ever written, and I’m honored and thrilled that it was published on Brain, Child’s blog.


One degree. That’s what the weather app on my phone reported one morning this past winter as I was rushing around, trying to get myself and my girls dressed and fed and out the door on time.

In my mind, one degree is much more than just uncomfortable. One degree is scary. My six-year-old daughter was diagnosed with asthma when she was about four years old. I also have asthma, and our impaired lungs don’t respond well to air that cold. Inhaled steroids generally keep our chronic coughs at bay, but memories of her asthma attacks, including an especially bad one at school last fall, are rarely far from my thoughts. So I came up with a different plan for drop-off on that especially cold day. Rather than making her walk with me from the parking lot into school, I would drop her off right in front so she could get inside quickly. Then I’d circle back around, park the car, and walk in to meet her.

When I told my daughter the plan over breakfast, she promptly burst into tears. She was scared. Even though I knew she would be fine, she told me she didn’t feel safe walking in by herself. She couldn’t identify why she felt that way, but I wasn’t terribly surprised by her response. Along with my problematic lungs, she also inherited my anxiety. As a result, she has a hard time with the anticipation of changes to our routine, especially when she can sense that I’m anxious too. Looking back, I’m sure she was picking up on my worries that morning, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

You can read the rest of the post over on Brain, Child.