Parenting is Hard {Recipe: Creamy Chicken & Corn Chowder}

Creamy Chicken and Corn Chowder from

I leaned over her bed, late at night, placing a gentle kiss on her cheek. As I did, one of my tears fell onto her face, falling down into her wild and curly hair.

I love this girl so, so much I feel my heart physically swelling at the sight of her, but I don’t get her and I don’t know how to get her.

She could easily be described as sweet and kind… but that sweet demeanor can turn on a dime. One moment happy, cuddly and cheerful… the next in a fit of emotion about something small, like the taste of her toothpaste. Even if it the culprit of the fit seems trivial, her pain over it is obvious. She feels so deeply, so loudly, every emotion she has. Whether happy or sad, she feels in extremes.

She’s the one who has challenged me for at least four of her six years now. She’s creative, kind, loving, hilarious, talented and more… but we are slowly understanding that she needs more help than what we can give her. Parenting is hard. And honestly, it’s not going as I imagined it would so many years ago when my husband and I shared dreams about our future family. Never in a million years would I have thought we’d have a child who not only tries so hard but despite that is well below the average benchmark in school. Throw in extreme emotional issues (although that doesn’t present itself at school, ever) and you’ve got a picture perfect family shattered by reality. There is no picture perfect…it doesn’t exist.

And I can’t help but look at myself and wonder… what did I do wrong? I feel as if I’ve failed her in some way… and that’s a horrible feeling.

At the prompt of a friend, I made an appointment for my daughter with a child psychologist. Plus, she’ll be getting additional help at school.

I need answers. I need to know how I can help her. I need to make sure this path she’s spiraling down changes directions. I need help as much as she does… I need to know how to parent a child who doesn’t fit the mold. I’m hopeful yet feel so very helpless. Our appointment is not until May… what do I do until then?

I had been meaning to write about chowder today. About how on a cold day like today, a bowl of this hearty and flavorful chowder can wrap you in temporary comfort. When my mind is wild and my thoughts are far from being able to wax poetically about a pot of chowder, I know I can at least find some comfort in knowing that things will get better. And a bowl of comfort is a great way to start.

A bowl of creamy chicken and corn chowder from Dine & Dish

Creamy Chicken & Corn Chowder
A hearty chowder of corn and chicken...a bowl full of comfort on a cold winter day.
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 5 bacon strips, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Basil (I use and recommend Gourmet Garden
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (I use and recommend Gourmet Garden
  1. In a large Dutch Oven, fry bacon over medium heat for 5 minutes. Next add bell pepper and onion. Cook until onion is translucent and the vegetables are tender.
  2. Add flour; cook and stir until smooth. Slowly stir in milk, Tabasco sauce and chicken broth. Bring to a boil; then cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add chicken, corn, seasonings and herbs. Stir until well incorporated and cook for 10 minutes or until heated through.


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  1. linda walter says

    Oh darlin’. That was my middle son. He now has 6 year old twins….but schooling was so hard for him. Except he was in the 100%tile in grades…he just refused to do homework…and 5 teachers failed him…even though he was probably smarter than his teachers….he went on and got a maters degree…..but we were wondering what our son marched to a different tune…..we sent him for therapy. And he would say nothing for the whole hour….we learned we can do nothing. Period. Unless he was interested…the old story, you can lead the horse to the water,but you can,t make him drink it…….big hugs

  2. Bissmamaof3 says

    I’m praying for you. One of my best friends has been going through something very similar with her daughter. They also started with a child psychologist, finally got a diagnosis, have sought treatment and are now seeing great results. From what you’ve written, the details are very similar. Please email me if you want more info. I think I can help as you wait for your appointment.

  3. says

    I am so sorry you are going through this. Parenting is hard. I wish I had answers for you and the best I can put forth is for you to love and support her the best way possible. It seems like you are doing that. At least you recognized she needed help and you on your way to that point-some parents never accept or seek assistance. I wish you well and hope you, your daughter, your family find answers and peace soon.

    PS: I’d much rather read something real, than An Ode to Chowder. :) The sun shall peak through the clouds soon and shine down on your family.

  4. says

    First of all, I love you. I remember when I first opened up to you about my Ethan. I remember how you said that you had tears streaming down your face. I remember thinking that I did not want you to be sad for me. I wanted you (and everyone) to see in him what I saw in him. A few months later, you met him, and you did. :) I have met Ella, and I saw great things in her. She is special, and those special children often present the greatest challenges. But, they also deliver some of the greatest joy, in return. I know that you are up for this challenge because you are one of the best moms who I know.

    I am here if you need to talk. Hugs!

  5. Pat Wogan says

    Dear Kristen, I, too, read this post with a tear in my eye. Our darling sweet Ella who can be so stubborn. We always need love the most when we are the least lovable. Right now, she needs lots and lots of love. She is UNIQUE and SPECIAL! I am glad you are getting some help and hope it makes her happy, too. I love you all! Give her a hug from Grandma! I always said if I were God, I would have put a soft cover instruction book to come out with every baby. They are all different. When I was pregnant with Larry, I thought, I can do this, I’ve done it before…..only problem is He sent me a different kid every time!

  6. says

    All these things you are feeling are completely valid and the same things that we have felt as parents with our difficult child. We are finally figuring out what our “normal” is and seeing the benefits of the thousands we spent on play therapy, feeding therapy, and child psychiatrists….and all the hours spent in those appointments. I feel like I finally know my child and am developing a great relationship with him and him with me. I hope you have a great experience through all of that and find a fabulous doctor. It has made such a difference for us having a doctor that understands our needs as parents, our child’s needs and how to find common ground between the two. I think our two passionately emotional kids are very similar in ways. If you ever need a listening ear, know that you can always call me. For many years I never had a friend that was experiencing something even remotely similar and I know that would have made a huge difference for my ability to cope if I could have talked to someone that completely understood what I was going through instead of judging my parenting skills because of my child’s “not normalness,” for lack of a better phrase. You are such a great mom, Kristen, and I know you will find a way to get through this even if it is heartbreaking now.

  7. says

    Parenting IS hard. Big Big HUGS.

    Having a kid is feels so fiercely is tough. It’s beyond being “sensitive.” Giving her a safe space to express herself and work through whatever is going on is important.

    I don’t know what I could say that everyone else has already said so much better than I have. :) Hugs Hugs Hugs.

  8. says

    know you are not alone…i too never thought parenting would be this hard…so full of mistakes…lessons learned and relearned..frustrations…but those moments of the sweet sweet innocence of my child and the pure love that he shows…ahhhh…how i reach and hold onto those since i know THAT is who he is. prayers.

  9. says

    She is terribly cute thou. And God has a special plan for her life. If she is in His hands – no matter what her future or problems she faces, you will both have the strength to overcome them! I think all your kids are so cute. And beautiful! It was the SWEETEST thing to see your sons instagram comment on your stir fry! My heart melted!

  10. says

    God put this child in your family for a reason. She is loved deeply and surrounded by love and support by everyone. I’ll pray that she finds the help that she needs! What a well written, from the heart post. So brave!

  11. says

    Parenting may be hard but it sounds like you are doing an incredible job of it. She’s lucky to have a mother who cares as much as you and who is doing everything to try to help.

  12. says

    Oh K – that is just hard. You did the right thing though, loving her enough to make that appointment (and sister, loving her enough to wait until May for it!).

    It’s a good thing we don’t receive manuals with our kiddos because they’d constantly have to be updating them and adding on “service packs” or something as our kids start to find their own way, discover who they are becoming, etc.

    “Hang in there” sounds so trivial, but you know where to find me if you need to bend an ear …


  13. says

    Oh hunny, my heart goes out to you but I know that you are strong and that no matter what is thrown your direction you will shower your daughter with love and understanding, though sometimes it is hard. Parenting is hard and sometimes there are no answers but just know that you and she are a child of God and that he does not make mistakes but makes each and everyone of us in his own image and we each have our own purpose. Sending lots of love and comfort your direction.

  14. says

    She is yours for a reason. Because although you feel overwhelmed you have love strong enough for her that you will walk through the battle beside her, and that isn’t something that everyone can do. You inspire me.
    Miss you and wish I could could hug you right now!!

  15. says

    It’s often said that being a mother is both the most rewarding and most difficult position a person can hold….. and it’s true. Nothing will break a heart like the pain of a child. Yet in the midst of that lies our own feelings as a mother…. sadness, love, disappointment, anger, frustration. It’s so hard to balance caring for them and dealing with the stuff raging inside of us. A book that I cannot recommend enough is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (I actually have extra copies and would love love to send one to you if you email me your address)… It’s a daily devotional that has always spoken to me. Perhaps time in that and journaling your thoughts/prayers would help you sort this through some. Sending you hugs and praying you feel peace and guidance on how to walk this out.

  16. says

    The waiting is so hard.

    I have a son who also feels every thing just that much MORE than others. He still has a kind of “wavy” diagnosis… that I assume one day will change and become more hard-and-fast, but even in getting the “sort-of” diagnosis, that was helpful.

    Getting help at school is huge. My son is in Kindergarten, and we ended up choosing a Charter school to send them to (in the Twin Cities), because they were so much more willing to give him all of the help he needs, not just the help he “qualifies for.” (It’s a huge difference!!)

    Hopefully you have some friends/neighbors/acquaintances who can help you through the process, but if you don’t, there are a lot of good groups online, and in real life, that can help you understand what the best next step is.

    Good luck. The wait feels like an eternity. I hope you can get in sooner with a cancelation. (We weaseled in a good month early at the U of M thanks to that!)


  17. says

    Oh :( This sounds like my beautiful 3 year old daughter. We are dealing with almost the same issues… I can completely understand you, and my heart goes out to you. I know what you have to go through every day. It’s like walking on eggshells for us… but I think, or I pray, that you and your family, as well as us, will get through it and our daughters will grow up to be amazing, uber smart, beautiful individuals. My only advice is to keep talking to her and listening to her. Read between the lines, and listen for what is bothering her, or what excites her even.
    I did study Psychology, but never practiced it… now I wish I went ahead and got my PhD instead of changing direction in the middle of it all and getting my MBA. Who knew what the future had in store for me…
    In the meantime, could we share a bowl of this beauty?

  18. Tam says

    Sometimes, life just sucks! Your post brought back the many years of tears and heartache with having a loving child that just didn’t “fit” in. As you share your life with all of us I feel like I walked many of the same steps. My kids are now in their 20’s and I can tell you there are many other parents out there feeling like you! Please know you are so strong and loving, but build a group of people around you to support your choices. The waiting game is tough! Kansas City has many different places for resources. One step at a time! You can do this!


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