We had a meeting at the house last night. A group of parents gathered in our den to talk about our children – to compare notes on their progress in school, to discuss services and strategies and to support one another in our efforts to advocate for our kids.
There was solidarity. There were tears. There so often are tears. There was anger. There was fear. There was understanding. There was frustration.
I was spent long before the meeting ended.
I walked away. I wandered from the den to the office and fussed with something on the desk. I ambled into the kitchen and rinsed a glass that didn’t need rinsing.
It’s so often the same faces at these meetings. The same people who take up the mantle and fight to make things right. They look tired. We’re all tired.
As the last parent left, I trudged up the stairs. My feet were heavy on the steps.
I need to learn to say no. No, I can’t host that meeting. No, I can’t write that letter. No, I can’t speak in front of the school that night. No, I can’t run that panel.
No, I can’t.
Why can’t I say no? It’s just one syllable. “No.” Seems easy enough.
Why can’t I say it?
This week had taken its toll. I was near tears. I couldn’t fathom that it was only Wednesday.
Why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep writing calling organizing hosting finessing praying checking hoping pushing (and pushing and pushing and pushing)?
I opened Brooke’s door. She opened her eyes ever so slightly as the un-oiled hinge announced my arrival. The room was bathed in the silvery grey haze from the light spilling in from the hallway. A gentle smile spread across her face as I padded quietly over to the bed.
I bent to her and put my cheek on hers. “Mama loves you, baby,” I whispered softly.
“Mama loves you too,” she whispered back. I smoothed her covers and tucked her favorite blanket under her chin.
I stayed longer than I should have. I knelt by the side of her bed and watched her sleep – her little chest moving up and down as her lungs did their work. I was mesmerized by the rhythm of sleep.
I stroked her hair gently, hoping not to break the spell.
I stood up slowly, quietly. I looked down at my baby girl, curled into a tangle of blankets, her slender little fingers wrapped around Prairie Dawn. Dead asleep, she was still smiling.
That’s why, I thought.