My friends can guess this story already by looking at the stairway. The picture says a thousand words :)
Now, the moment began, not at the top to these stairs, but much earlier in the day. Actually, last night. Ian has an ear infection with a fever so he didn't sleep well and I gave him medicine at 1:30am. Then up at 6:30am to teach. Rushing home as soon as I could to give him comforting. And I was the empty shell on the shore, tired beyond tired.
This is Nutcracker weekend, so I got Anika dinner and dressed in her mouse costume. We live across the street and parking is rough with the show so I walked the half-block, then across the parking lot. And then. Then the stairs. Oh, and Ian couldn't stand me leaving, so he tagged along. Not feeling well but determined not to be left behind. The dressing rooms were down these stairs, down the hall, down another few stairs . . .
I just couldn't muster the energy. We went into the theater lobby with the bustle of pre-show organizing. We checked in with her dance teacher. "They go around and down to the dressing rooms," she said, already turning her attention.
I took a quick breath. Be brave. Be strong. Because in this moment, it's easiest to say thank you. And walk the stairs. And deal with the fallout. Instead of calling attention to myself and my story. She barely knows me. "Actually," I said. "Is there anyone that could walk her down? A group of mice she can join?"
She glanced at me, that glance that feels like it measures me against my words. Wonders how I could be so lazy (my interpretation, I guess).
I stammered, because I do that when I need clear words the most. "I just, it's hard for me-"
"We don't have any runners and-". She still had that quizzical gaze, which I felt as "really?"
"Nevermind," I said. "I bet one of her friends will be here soon."
And that was a solution. Anika walked down with a friend. Luckily she's very independent. And she knows her mom.
Ian and I trudged on home. I tried to rest. I walked down the stairs to pick Anika up, after all. :)
But the hard place was the moment of speaking needs vs. staying quiet. There is no winning answer. I speak up and I feel guilty. Or I stay quiet and I ache. Especially when challenges are not obvious, speaking up makes waves in what seems to be smooth water. I like to be smooth water. But each chance that I have to make waves is a chance to educate, and to take care of myself. And that's important modeling for my kids, too. To see that we can be true to ourselves and help each other out along the way.
We all have our stairways. But maybe we don't have to climb ever single stair alone. Maybe we can skip a few :).
PS My feet and legs are still mad mad mad at me ... Even with my brave intentions :). Oh well, I tried :)