When Z and T were eighteen months old, we moved from a 900-square foot apartment to a four-bedroom, two-story house. The girls took little time to adjust to the new territory, with the exception of a set of stairs. The two steps from the living room to the sunken family room were met with glee. But the thirteen steps up to the second floor provoked fear and trepidation. They rarely scaled them during the day, which cut down on my workload (thankfully), but at night, they needed them in order to get to bed. Instead of facing their fears, they quickly established a routine: at bedtime, the girls would walk to the bottom of the stairs, look up at my husband, and then look at the stairs.
“Carry you?” they’d each say in their chirpy, toddler voices.
I’m not sure why they said carry you instead of carry me, but imagine two identical toddlers with big eyes staring at you. Of course, you’d carry them. Who wouldn’t?
So Tim would lean down, take a twin in each arm, and conquer the mountainous stairs. I can’t remember if he placed them on their feet at the landing, but my guess is he hauled them all the way to their twin beds, where he unceremoniously “threw” them on the mattresses. Carrying the girls up the stairs was his way of doing something simple for the kids. A single gesture right before bed to ease their anxiety, make their nights a little bit better, more peaceful.
This memory hits me every time I climb our stairs, which is often. But lately, I’ve been thinking about it even more. Not the stairs, mind you, but the words, carry you. The thought that one person can ease another’s burden by carrying a part of it. Because with the weight of the world on everyone’s shoulders, don’t we each need someone to carry you?
I know I do, but I’m not sure where to begin with this one. In theory, we’re blessed, lucky, fortunate—however you want to look at the situation. But even those in mainly positive situations are effected by negative surroundings. The question is: how do you ask someone else to help ease your burden when their burden might be even worse?
And that’s when it hit me. You just ask.
What do you need help with? How can I carry you? And how can you carry you for someone else?
Image of staircase by Micah Carlson at Unsplash.com.
Yes, just ask! We all have different burdens. Different things that stress us. But what causes me to be anxious might be what you excell at, and vice versa. For me, making phone calls and contacting new agencies to find help taking care of my mother feels overwhelming. Once the conversation is initiated, and I have a specific person to contact when I have more questions, I can handle it. So, I ask other friends to make those first calls for me. Extrovert friends, who can’t really understand why the call causes me anxiety in the first place. And when I hear a friend mention being stressed over something I find easy to do (like helping their teen with algebra), I step in. It’s not always an “even” trade… I don’t always have a way to help out the person who has helped me. And I don’t always recieve help from those I’ve helped. But, I figure if we all just keep stepping up when we can (without stressing ourselves out more), then everyone’s burden will be lightened, and feelings of loneliness will be lessened.