And so it is, whenever I'm faced with a particularly difficult situation, I try to adjust my perspective and ask the question, "What am I supposed to be learning, here?"
Recently, it seems, I've been bombarded with learning opportunities.
Mostly, I've learned that my
Eating and sleeping?
It turns out those aren't really "optional" activities.
If you're anything like me, eventually, you'll fall asleep at your desk while wondering if the paper comprising the report that you've been reviewing for the past two days is edible. And while you are asleep, you will dream about painting with two hands - at the same time - while scraping wallpaper with your feet.
Although I had been gone for much of last week on a business trip, I had made a mental list of all the things I needed to bring on my 3-Day walk. So by Thursday night, I was packed and ready for the taxi that would pick me at 5:30 AM and drive me Nationals Stadium.
At midnight, Elizabeth woke up crying. When I brought her out to the kitchen for a drink of water, she spotted my bags by the front door and she started to cry even harder.
"Please Mommy," she pleaded. "Please don't leave us again!"
Sometimes, we have moments of pristine clarity. And that moment, standing in the kitchen with my little girl perched on the counter, was a moment of pristine clarity for me. Because it struck me in that moment, that my family needed me more than the 3-Day walk did. Especially since next week, I'm flying to California for another business trip and will be gone yet again.
Making the decision to not do the walk, caused me a lot of anguish. I said I'd do it. I was ready to do it. But even though I had bought new shoes and packed and taken the time off of work, and at least mentally prepared myself for walking 60 miles in three days, I realized, an hour past the 11th hour, that I couldn't - or rather, shouldn't - do the walk this year.
So instead of walking, I solicited the help of my children to make signs and pick out pink gear. We rummaged through boxes and found 200 pink "Be Amazing!" bracelets. We then loaded up the car and drove in to Washington, D.C. where we set up on a nice shady corner along the edge of Dupont Circle. For the next several hours, we cheered on walkers. And I concluded that cheering is just as gratifying as being out there, marching for such an important cause.
Aside from encouraging hundreds, if not thousands of walkers, a highlight of my day was meeting a woman named Jennifer and her beautiful family. Jennifer, as it turns out, reads this blog and it totally floored me when she came up to introduce herself. It really flatters me beyond comprehension that people, especially those whom I've never met, actually read this gibberish.
Jennifer, as it also turns out, is a superstar mother and wife raising her four small children while her husband, who is serving in the Army, is deployed. I'm fairly certain I've written it before, but if not, for the record, the admiration and respect that I have for people who are keeping the home fires burning, while their spouses serve abroad, can not be overstated.
Lesson learned: Whenever I find myself feeling overwhelmed, I will reflect on those people who are maintaining a home and raising their families - without any spousal support - and while also carrying around a variable degree of fear regarding their spouse's safety.
(Imagine me doing a standing ovation, on your behalf.)
Moments after Jennifer left, I heard walkers that had just gone past us, burst in to howling laughter. William, Carolyn and Elizabeth were standing in front of me, so I whipped around looking for Henry. He was standing on a rock, about 20 feet behind me, facing the long line of cars that were preparing to go around the rotary at Dupont Circle. His pants were around his ankles, his hands were planted firmly on his hips, and his little pelvis was jutted out as he was "watering" the ivy.
Ever since we've moved to a more rural area, Henry has come to believe that the world is his toilet. And while I've tried to work with him on going potty inside, my efforts have been futile. In my quest to teach my son the important life lesson of going in an appropriate receptacle, I've discovered that it is absolutely impossible to stop a three-year-old once they start.
I ran to Henry and picking him up, pointed him in the opposite direction, so he at least wasn't facing the scores of people. A few seconds later, once I deemed that he was sufficiently drained and it was safe to do so, I pulled up his little pants and scooped him in to my arms. Just then, a large SUV pulled up immediately curbside. When I looked over I saw two police officers, smirking. One of the officers said to me, "I'm very sorry, Ma'am, but we're going to need to take him with us."
I wasn't fully confident that they were joking, but I decided to take my chances and with arms outstretched, held Henry and said, "HERE! Take him!" That's when both officers erupted in to laughter as one said, "When you've got to go, you've got to go!" There is no truer statement. Although, as I learned this weekend, sometimes the converse is equally true.
When you've got to stay, you've got to stay.