The sidewalk slid beneath my boots. A long second hung in the air, a second when I knew I was going down and there was nothing I could do about it. Then I pitched forward and sprawled on the icy concrete in front of Taco Bell, struggling to catch my breath.
“Mom! Mommy, are you okay?” My seven-year-old tugged on my arm, and my guide dog pushed her cold, wet nose into my face.
I did a quick injury assessment as I fought off a barrage of sloppy dog kisses. Nothing warm and sticky; I wasn’t bleeding. My joints all seemed to work, more or less.
I tried to smile reassuringly.“Give me a minute. I’ll be fine.”
“Mom, get up,” my daughter Sarah urged, still tugging. “Please get up.”
“I’m coming. My knee is sore, that’s all. The sidewalk is slippery. I have to get up slowly so I don’t fall again.”
I heard someone approaching, then passing and unlocking a nearby car. I wondered briefly why the passerby didn’t stop, then let that thought go. One more busy person in a world of busy people. Sarah suddenly left her position beside me.
“Mommy’s Little Fighter”
“You could help her up, you know!” she burst out from a short distance away. I could hear the glare in her voice. “It’s not nice to laugh at her!”
“Sarah!” I called, concerned. “Over here!”
By the time Sarah came back to me, I had gotten to my feet. We started walking home, carefully avoiding the treacherous patches of ice on the sidewalk.
“That man in the SUV laughed at you because you fell,” Sarah said, still outraged.“I made a mean face at him.”
“I appreciate the way you stick up for me, Sarah,” I told her.“You have a strong sense of justice, of what’s fair and what’s not. But you have to be careful how you speak to people. That was a grown man you just told off. Luckily, he chose to get in his SUV and drive away. But what if he had yelled at you, or even pushed you or something?”
Sarah wasn’t sure what to say about that; she just shrugged.
So far, as a little girl, she’s been mostly unchallenged in her attempts at social justice. But as her mother, I worry about her safety as her image in the world changes from small and cute to tween and snarky. I’ve never asked her to speak up on my behalf; her support has come naturally. She’s been a spitfire from the time she learned to talk, not just when it comes to her blind mother. She speaks up for bullied kids at school and mistreated stray cats and baby birds in our neighborhood.
She may become a fierce advocate for social justice as she gets older. But I don’t want her to feel like she’s expected to become one because her mother is blind. There’s a fine line between feeling obligated to advocate and feeling inspired to do so. And until she figures this all out and learns to pick her battles—God help us as we navigate her teen years together–I will be praying that she is protected by the best angels Heaven has to offer. She’ll need them.