Pulled Sweet Potato Sandwiches

I’ve been having a difficult time deciding how I can tie my recipes into the things I want to write about. It’s hard to find a way to say that this, this and this is happening… and ta-da a recipe! Then I realized this is my blog, and people can read or not read, and the truth is I really need an outlet–and writing has always been just that for me. So in that spirit, get ready for some ramblings that are completely unrelated to the recipe I’m going to post!

It has been a hard week. Estella had an appointment on Monday with a Pediatric Cardiologist. After a long appointment and multiple tests, the doctor drew a diagram for me and explained two separate heart defects Estella has. I dealt with the news pretty well. Afterall, there are good outcomes, and at least there are surgeries and procedures that can be done… Basically, she will be seen often and tested regularly to make sure that things don’t become so emergent that something needs to be done to correct it immediately, then within the next couple years they will go in and try to correct each of the defects. I went to the appointment alone and drove home in complete silence. As though I was putting my feelings on hold, I went throughout the rest of the day normally. I explained the two heart defects to David and to family over and over again repeating the same emotion-less shpeal–“it’s just so great that when it gets bad enough, something can be done to correct it.”

Late, after an exhausted David had fallen asleep I googled Estella’s heart defects, watched video illustrations to better understand, and cried. I was frustrated with myself. I’ve had an internal battle brewing since the appointment. I tell myself it’s ok to feel sad, disappointed, and a little robbed by this news. Even if the prognosis is good, they will still have to do a procedure/surgery on my little girl’s heart and that is heavy news. But then I think of my niece who was born on Sunday at just 25 weeks gestation who has brain bleeds and pneumonia and I feel ashamed of my sadness. In my head, a battle rages. I decide to be kind to myself. Then I turn and tell myself that others have it so much worse. After an hour of this loop I gave up. I picked up sweet Estella out of her bed, I wrapped my arms around her little body and rocked her for a couple hours kissing her head over and over until the sadness floated away and I felt like I could fall asleep.

I thought by the next morning that things were running like business as usual, but I caught myself on multiple occasions snapping at Dru. I have a lot of short comings as a mother, but one thing I have been blessed with is not ever losing myself in frustration or yelling at my kids. I thought I wasn’t letting the news get to me, but it has definitely left tension in its wake. We normally have a very peaceful home, so this bit of added stress also has affected Dru. When I dropped him off at preschool he clung to my leg and I saw little tears in his eyes as he looked back as his teacher grabbed his hand and led him into the room. I was worried about him, so I came back early to watch him through the two-way mirrors that the classroom has. All of the kids were playing. I watch him nervously wander over to a pile of blocks that were sitting next to a little girl. He very slowly leaned down and grabbed a block. The girl quickly snatched it from his hand and pushed it into his stomach firmly saying “I don’t want you over here! I don’t like you by me!” I felt a tingle surge through my body as I died inside, wanting to rescue him. No one was in danger, and they are just little kids so I stayed put and let him process the experience without intervening. Embarrassed, he sauntered away to where the other kids couldn’t see him. I watched him pull his shirt to his mouth, to try to keep from crying. Bravely, he waited there for several minutes until the teacher called all of the kids to read a story. He kept it together even though the hurt and embarrassment flooded his entire body. I cried for him.

When class was over, he ran to hug me and we talked about the day. As I buckled him into his seat he looked at me and said, “Mom, why don’t kids like me?” My momma heart fell broken to the ground as I swallowed hard and tried to explain how loved he is as we drove home. Instead of putting him in his bed for a nap, I took him into my room, I wrapped my arms around his little body and rocked him for a couple hours kissing his head over and over until the sadness floated away

It’s been a rough week. I wish I had a beautifully thought out resolution to tie this all together neatly, into a lovely bow–but I don’t. Sometimes weeks are just bad. Sometimes you get news and while you know it’s not the end of the world, for a moment… or many moments… it feels that way. Sometimes people are unkind to you when–more than ever–you could really use some kindness. And sometimes you are given extra reasons to slow down and snuggle your little ones.

And now… a spin on pulled pork–pulled sweet potato sandwiches! I told you… no great way to do this. BUT it was therapeutic for me to write out all of those feelings AND this recipe is amazing. Win-win. We were all huge fans of these sandwiches. Pair them with some potato wedges and you have a killer and super easy meal!


  1. by Kalyn on September 2, 2017  4:11 am Reply

    You are an amazing and strong mom ❤️ Your kids are lucky to have you

    • by Lauren Parker on September 4, 2017  12:38 am Reply

      You're the best. Love you KaLyn❤️

  2. by Natalie I. on September 2, 2017  1:45 pm Reply

    Definitely going to try this recipe out! Great idea! Also, I love hearing your experiences! That's one of the things that has surprised me about motherhood- is how emotional it is. I've never been a very emotional person but there are some days when my thoughts and feelings are so overwhelming! There is so much anxiety and worry sometimes that it's hard to not feel every single emotion-sometimes all at once. I like to think that those babies are so safe in your home because they have parents who will love them and give them the best care!

    • by Lauren Parker on September 4, 2017  12:43 am Reply

      Exactly! You put it perfectly--so many emotions!! Thank you, Natalie❤️

  3. by Katir Merrill on September 3, 2017  1:40 am Reply

    First off, we LOVE sweet potatoes and will definitely be trying this. Second, I understand the inner conflict of feeling mad and sadness beyond words about your particular trial and the immediate guilt that comes from comparing yours to the trials and hardships of others. A dear friend of mine who had a down right terrible childhood and a rocky relationship with her mother, up until her mother committed suicide, gave me this advice in a comment on my blog after writing a very similar post: "I think sometimes we just get through it. And we learn to just be. To be mad when we're mad and heartbroken and happy and all the other things as they come. And through it all we learn to be compassionate with ourselves." That comment made me feel a little less guilty about going through the grieving process with my own trials. As you mentioned, be kind to yourself and know that I, along with so many others, are praying for you and your family. (PS, I admire you all the more for keeping your cool when you are stressed. You rock and those kiddos are blessed to have you.)

    • by Lauren Parker on September 4, 2017  12:45 am Reply

      Wow! I love that. It's funny that something as simple as letting ourselves feel our feelings can be so difficult... that is so well put. I'll have to keep reminding myself of this when I'm giving myself a hard time. Thank you, Katie.

  4. by Laurel on September 5, 2017  11:53 am Reply

    Life is hard sometimes, but I love how you are so very concerned about others feelings, even when you are down.

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