I was on my way to chaperone my son’s very first preschool field trip. It was November 2005, and we were visiting the local fire station. Andrew’s one true passion in those days was vehicles, and the opportunity to climb aboard a real fire engine was met with the kind of unadulterated joy and enthusiasm that only a three-year-old can muster. It was a moment I would want to hold on to forever.
As I grabbed my keys, I eyed the camera left on the kitchen counter the night before. For a brief moment my mind raced – you only get one first. I took a sharp breath and closed the door, leaving the camera behind.
You see, I knew I couldn’t use it. I simply couldn’t bend. And anyone who has tried knows – if you want to photograph a child, you must squat – and I couldn’t. All that I could photograph was the top of his head. I decided that some moments should be trusted to our memories, sans Nikon.
The trouble is, this was even more precious than I could have imagined. The exuberance, the sweetness – I wanted to capture it and hold on forever. I knew that as he would grow the memory of the chubby little cheeks and mushroom haircut would fade and morph into the big boy he would become. Damn – I wanted a picture.
I noticed another mom with a nice looking Canon. It took nearly the entire trip for me to gather my courage and ask, and at that, I was fortified only by a small lie.
“I was wondering, ditzy moment – in all the excitement, I forgot my camera. Would you mind taking a picture of Andrew for me?”
The following day she handed me an envelope. It was an absolutely perfect picture of Andrew, holding the fire hose.
I learned something valuable that day. It’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes, we can’t do everything that we want to do, or used to do, or believe that we should be able to do. Sometimes, we need to drop the shame, and drop the fear of vulnerability, and just come right out and ask. It sounds so simple and obvious, but I had a really hard time learning this. Maybe I couldn’t accept that I had RA, and didn’t think others would accept it either. But what I’ve learned is that people, for the most part, are kind. I’ve yet to meet judgment or pity when people hear that I have RA – only kindness. Help is there. Don’t be afraid of it.