My Ambien-​Induced Parenting Epiphany

Justin: “Kasey…KaseyKASEY!!!” (frustration intensifies)

Lake: “mawwwwwwwwm” (in 6‑year old whimper-​whine voice)

Lake: “maaaaaaawm, I threw up.” (real pathetic-​like)

Me: “huh? what?!? what tha heck?!? … HONEY! THAT’S MY BEST SPATULA!!!” (in ambien-​drunken slurring voice)

I think we can all agree that one has hit their all-​time parenting low when you sleep through your child vomiting. And not just any vomiting, but hurling on top of you in the middle of the night.

No, folks, it wasn’t pretty and not my best moment; not even close.

So, Lake got the stomach bug that’s been goin’ around the ranch and decided to make it known to us about 1:30 am. No big deal, right? If you’ve been a snot-​wiping, hoodlum-​chasing, poop-​cleaning, fruit-​puff-​lovin’ parent for any time at all, you’ve become a projectile-​ninja; one skilled in the art of early morning cleanups and mad dashes to town for Gatorade and saltine crackers.  It’s funny – when you become a parent, hurling is no longer considered a ‘party foul’ that ruins your night, but instead, a welcome opportunity to stay at home and launch an epic ‘Modern Family’ marathon. “Yeah, my kid’s sick…I know, I hate it too…looks like I’m gonna be stuck at the house today taking care of a puky-baby…ahhh, you’re sweet…thanks for the prayers.”

Kid with stomach bug…been there, done that. Kid with stomach bug + me on ambien…well now, that’s a new one. I have never read the full description of ambien until this moment. May I share it with you?

{Ambien} : “a prescription medication used for the treatment of insomnia and some brain disorders. It works quickly, usually within 15 minutes. Its hypnotic effects are similar to those of the benzodiazepine molecule…” (it just gets better from here, but I think it’s safe to stop with the words, ‘hypnotic effects’ in pretty much any situation life throws at you).

Now, before you start posting links to natural sleep remedies and emailing me the contact info for your naturopath, please know – I’ve tried it. Moral of the story, I have no ovaries (thank you, cancer) ergo I have no estrogen (thank you, menopause). But what I do have…hot flashes, times when even the smallest annoyance makes me want to punch a puppy, and mostly — I.CANNOT.SLEEP. And not for lack of trying, I assure you. I have tried: going without caffeine, warm baths, lavender oil, more lavender oil, melatonin, herbal teas, I quit smoking (ha — just threw that one in there to see if you’re still with me), honey, detox, naturopathic help, Black Cohosh (had to stop that one just because the name kept freaking me out), and of course, every over the counter sleep aid known to man. Finally, after my husband wanted to start sleeping in separate bedrooms, and I started seeing hallucinations of scenes from ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ play out on my ceiling all night, I broke down, called the doc, and decided for the sake of my family & sanity — it’s time for the hard stuff.

So, yeah. I know it should be temporary.

I know it’s a “hypnotic” drug that’s killing my liver. I’m sure it’s addictive. It’s not my first choice, yadayadayada…and now, thanks to Lake getting the stomach bug, I know that a person can vomit on top of you in the middle of the night and you can sleep right through it! Brilliant.

Apparently, I did eventually get out of bed. According to Justin, I threw back the comforter without realizing there was puke everywhere. Which then, splattered on to his side of the bed and the wall. At that time, there were perhaps a few profanities here and there; one can’t be sure at 1:30 am. I walked Lake back to his bed, took his temperature (which was nada), got him a drink of water, and laid with him until he fell back asleep. At which point, I returned to the bedroom to find Justin scraping the vomit from our comforter (not worth it, honey — got it from Target), to which I then promptly responded, “HONEYTHAT’S MY BEST SPATULA!!!” I then (again, according to Justin) crawled right back in to bed, pulled the nasty covers up over me, and fell hard asleep as if nothing had happened.

Justin stood there (I’m sure) in complete disgust and frustration as he replaced the comforter with a quilt from the bottom of the closet that smelled funny, wrapped up his new ‘vomit-​be-​gone spatula’ trick, and even went so far as to spot clean the carpet. (This morning when I woke up and stumbled around the house, I had the most uncomfortable flashback to ‘Panama City girls trip circa 1999.’ Yikes.)

I didn’t realize what a ‘jerk-​mom’ I had been until Lake walked in to the kitchen as I’m cleaning my favorite spatula (apparently I’ve seen one too many Sponge Bob episodes…I mean let’s face it — one really is too many), peered up at me with the most chastising, blue eyes you ever did see, and said, “Mom, I really needed to throw up last night. And I was telling you and telling you and telling you. I even punched you. But you wouldn’t wake up. And so, I just threw up right there…on you.”

(You should all feel really good about your parenting skills at this point.)

My response in that moment was my parenting-​epiphany.

I had only 2 choices as I held the crusty spatula over the sink and stood next to my wadded up comforter on a pile in the floor. I could lie to him, or, tell him the truth.

And so, I asked Lake to sit down next to me on the couch, and I told him the truth. For the next hour, we talked.  He asked hard questions, I just kept telling him the truth. And truth here, really meant, talking to him like he was an adult. I spoke with him, to him, like I would talk to a grown man. I told him about my surgery to remove my uterus and ovaries (and yes, I used the real words). I told him what estrogen was and menopause. We talked about my lack of sleep and how hard it was on mommy to go without sleep. He asked about cancer, and if it was coming back. Which then led to talking about trusting God each day, and how we should all live each day as if our cancer was coming back; ready to be with Jesus. Which then led to him asking more questions about God and faith and heaven and hell.

Toward the end of our conversation, I asked his forgiveness for not waking up, but also for his grace to understand that, for now anyways, mommy’s going to be sleeping pretty hard. So, if you need to throw up – next time, aim for the toilet.  I told him that soon there would come a time when mommy would not be there to take care of him when he was sick, but instead, God would entrust him to take care of his own family. I told him that as a man, husband, and father, he will be called to place the needs of others above his own; even if that means doing the uncomfortable, hard things, like going to the bathroom alone to throw up because your mom won’t wake up.

To anyone else this event would have been just a funny story, a fleeting moment, or a common occurrence for parents everywhere. But for my family, it was an opportunity to grow up. I was reminded that every seemingly insignificant moment in our day can be used to live in truth or in lie. I was reminded that our kids can take and understand a lot more than we give them credit for. I was reminded that sometimes we need to turn off the TV, take a deep breath, and just sit on the couch with our kids.

As my kids grow up (and I do too), I realize more and more that my kids don’t need to be babied or coddled or pampered or entertained…they need to be told the truth. My kids need to see the truth about who I am as their mom; my struggles and imperfections. My boy needs to be shown respect and honor for who he is, but also compassion and empathy to meet people where they are. My children are only 6 and 9, but they are old enough to be taught the most fundamental truth for humanity…

God has purposed all earthly things to leave us wanting, so that His love alone might satisfy and sustain.

The truth is — life is, and will always be, hard. There will be sleepless nights and sickness and the people you love will often let you down. This truth can leave a person holding a spatula in bewilderment, angry their awake when they’d rather be sleeping, or, a little drunk and out of sorts from ‘hypnotic-​meds.’ OR, this truth can set us free to truly live; fully, only, completely trusting in our Creator. Expecting nothing. Grateful for all.

Let’s choose to parent through truth in all things, shall we? {even menopause, Ambien, vomit, and disgruntled, spatula-​using husbands}.

About Kasey Van Norman

Kasey is a Bible teacher who is passionate about people and the proclaiming of the Gospel. As the founder and president of Kasey Van Norman Ministries, based in College Station, Texas, her heart’s desire is to be a fresh voice that bridges […]

Read More


  1. 🙂

  2. Theresa Beswick McLeid says:

    That was a wonderful lesson for all moms out there & I wish I had advise like that when I was raising my son. God Bless You!

  3. Such a beautiful picture of how we can use everyday moments to point our children to Jesus. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably.

Speak Your Mind