You know those days when you’ve just had enough? Or a time when you felt so frustrated by something, it just wasn’t worth it? I’ve had those moments, those days, those weeks…
Today, my daughter had one of those moments. She called to tell me she just couldn’t do something anymore. I didn’t ask why, nor did I ask for an explanation…I just told her, “You can do it.” Plain and simple – she can do it. I knew she could do it. I’ve known for years.
Eighteen years ago, ironically, almost to the day, I was pregnant and sick. I was a month shy of delivering my son, and I was suffering terribly from painful back issues, a hellacious sinus infection (to make matters worse, I am allergic to antihistamines) and both my eyes were infected to the point my vision was suffering. My pregnancy wasn’t high risk, but I had suffered a previous loss and I was traveling back to the United States to deliver my child for safety reasons. My husband could not travel with us, so it was just my daughter, AT and me. I knew I was traveling too late in the pregnancy (every airport agent told me so) and the trip was taking its toll. My daughter was 3 years old and the long journey home was about 33 hours long. When we arrived in Frankfort, Germany and I was so sick, I decided I had to seek out a doctor.
I went to airport security and was sent to the basement for assistance. I found the area where I was to get help. Unfortunately, English was not widely spoken “under” the airport, but ultimately, it became clear that I wouldn’t be treated by the airport nurse. She was there for employees only. I couldn’t do it anymore and so, I decided we needed to stay overnight.
Keep in mind I was traveling with a tired 3 year old…as cute as she was, she was tired. I got down on my knees and talked to her like I would an adult, no baby talk, no sugar coating. I told her that I was very sick and I needed her help. I told her that I couldn’t carry her anymore. I couldn’t carry her back pack or her suitcase, nor could I hold her hand as I had to lug my own suitcases. I explained to her that we were staying overnight and I needed her to help us find our way to the airport hotel.
Those big brown eyes squinted just a bit and out of her baby doll lips she said firmly, “I can do it, Mommy. I can do it.” She slung her little backpack on her shoulder, and grabbed her tiny piece of luggage off the carousel, all the while grabbing the strap that hung off my suitcase…and that spunky little blonde started walking.
My daughter is a smart girl and was smart even at the age of 3. She could talk and read – and I quickly learned she could navigate a foreign airport. She led us to the escalator. She got on first, looked behind her – as if to make sure I stepped on okay and turned right back around. Resigned to follow her lead, I told her we needed to take a left when we stepped off. She didn’t hesitate – she marched herself and me off to the left and down the corridor. I am not sure how she did it – but before long, I was standing at the reservation desk of the hotel.
We made it to the US.
She never asked me why or how I was sick. She never balked at the delay, nor did she ever complain about her added responsibility. She just did it. Thinking back, I doubt I even properly fed her on that trip. She knew – instinctively – she had a responsibility and was tasked to help her family…and she did it.
On the leg from Atlanta to Huntsville, I finally fell asleep. When I awoke, a stewardess was standing over me saying how good my daughter was. While I slept, AT decided to color – all over her face.
The same child who had taken care of me and her soon-to-be little brother, was grinning from ear to ear with purple marker all over her face and so was I. We were met at the door of the airplane with a wheelchair and I remember her kissing me as I sat down. She continued to walk all by herself until my parents were able to greet us and pick her up. They hadn’t seen her in more than a year and I was so proud to have them see her beautiful face covered in magic marker.
AT has never been able to receive my permission or my blessing to give up; and, I have never been able to grant myself permission to give up because of AT.
AT taught me two decades ago that sometimes you do what you got to do, no complaints, no questions, no feeling sorry for yourself BUT after you do – take a little time for yourself!
Remind me to tell you about my son…talk about determination!
*Happy Birthday, AT!