Today, my family is at Hollywood Studios.
That’s right. Tower of Terror. Adventures of Indiana Jones. Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Movie sets and movie rides and cast members and guest stars. More parades and pixie dust in the park that happens to be my most favoritest of the most happiest place on earth.
But I am not with them. I had to excuse myself and take a bus back to the hotel.
I started the day with them, and I intended to maintain the day with them. But sometimes a boundary hits and anxiety triggers, and I cannot stay involved for one more minute.
If you’ve seen me in this departure scene, either in what feels like a grand display in a public place (which is pretty much the worst ever), or perhaps in a moment when it’s just you and me and still I’ve hit my own capacity, then you know how quickly it can come upon me, how quickly I am down for the count.
But what you may not and perhaps cannot know is how long I have wrestled in my mind with the decision to actually dismiss myself. I’ve weighed the options, the good with the bad. Most always, the consequences I am most aware of are the ones to the other people involved.
If I do not stay, will I miss some magical moments in the lives of my children? Yes.
If I do not stay, will I have to settle for the secondhand recount later? Yes.
If I do not stay, will I seem ungrateful to my brother and sister-in-law who have made this magical experience even a remote possibility? I can only hope not.
I have the heart of an extrovert adventurer, but the rest of me is the agoraphobic introvert. It’s residual; I am not who I once was.
But if I step away, I am taking care of myself. I am putting on my proverbial oxygen mask first. I can save and restore the energy I have to be the mom my children will still need me to be later, when the parades turn to memories and the fireworks turn to smoke.
It’s never an easy decision. I argue with myself long before I decide and long after I’ve decided. And ultimately I look at the cards in my hand, and I make my best bet with what I’ve been dealt.
Jana and I have worked on this protocol for months. Well, years.
My deepest thankfulness to my family for making magic happen for my children, for knowing I did my best today, for seeing a spirit of gratitude behind the veneer of anxiety, and for hanging with me while all of this doesn’t go away.