Off on the Wrong Foot

This week, I injured my foot and everything kinda came to a screeching halt.

I was making sure my fearless 1 year old didn’t kill herself on this play structure meant for older kids. I climbed up this wooden ladder whose rungs were pretty close together. My right foot got stuck between the rungs, and in my haste to protect my child, I wrenched it free and immediately felt pain across the top of my foot.

That’s gonna be a nasty bruise, I thought.

The pain subsided, I kept functioning normally for the next 2-3 hours. I drove my kids home, fed them, put my daughter down for a nap, and then relaxed on the couch with my son for 1.5 hours. Then I got up and rushed around to walk to a friend’s house.

On the walk there, my foot started bothering me. By the time we got there, I had some pain. By the time 30 minutes passed, I was limping and in serious pain. I stopped walking and texted my husband to come get me.

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I’m super stubborn and don’t really trust doctors a whole lot. (I’ve had some yucky experiences with medical professionals who think they’re hot shit.) My intuition about my body is usually right, and I was pretty sure it was just a bad sprain (spoiler alert- I was right). I toughed it out for the past 3 days by staying off my foot, icing, meds.

But uuuuugggghhhh. I’m a SAHM with a 1 and 3 year old. How in the world am I supposed to function on crutches?!? I couldn’t go anywhere, because I couldn’t chase after my kids and keep them safe. Forget parks. Even the library was out. I didn’t trust myself to drive my kid to preschool. Everything took for-ev-er. Worst of all, I couldn’t carry anything. A glass of water, a book, putting food on the table, you name it. I couldn’t carry my daughter! I had to hobble to her changing table, then stand there and beg her to come to me so I could change her diaper. You can imagine how well that went.

Very quickly I could feel depression start to creep in. I was a prisoner in my house with two screaming kids and I was supposed to put my feet up?! There was no way I could function like that for very long at all; I felt the walls start to close in on me after not too much time had passed.

Fast forward to today when I finally decided to go to the doctor. (My foot started to turn purple and get tingly if I was upright for too long. Yeeeah.) Just a sprain, but it was worth the trip because they gave me a boot so I have mah freeeeeeedom back (to a degree) and my mood immediately perked up.

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Earlier this week, I started thinking about what I was supposed to learn from this. Whenever I’m frustrated the answer is usually patience and acceptance. No surprise here. As always happens when I temporarily lose some kind of function, I was immediately reminded of how crazy thankful I am to be able-bodied. Also, remembering how and when to ask for help. If needing the crutches had gone on much longer, I was planning to call my mom in California to ask her to fly up here…because what else was I gonna do?!

I loathe feeling so helpless and desperate, especially caused by something so minor, so silly. Damn children’s playstructure. Curse you and the trees from which you were made.

Ripped Open

Someone once told me that becoming a mother had ripped her open, both emotionally and physically.

At the time, I had an idea of what she meant, but now I have a much clearer sense.

Never have I felt so wide-open, so vulnerable.  It’s exhilarating and exhausting.

I cry much more easily.  I cry at diaper commercials.  Sometimes I cry when my son cries.  There is also such joy.  Pure, radiant bursts of joy.  My son’s smiles.  Watching my husband lovingly change a diaper for the first time.  Crying at diaper commercials.

The lows are lower and the highs are so much higher.

For me, becoming a parent has slammed me into the present like nothing else.  I am so overwhelmed, and my son’s needs are so immediate, that I am forced to focus on right now and little else.  Right now, he needs to eat.  Right now, I am going to sleep.  Right now, I am changing a diaper.  While I wipe his butt, we’re the only two people in the entire world.  He stares up at me and watches my face as I concentrate and hurry to finish the job.  I catch him looking at me and we share a smile.  Then we’re on to the next right now.

At the same time, becoming a parent stirred up my past.  I am remembering how I was raised.  Brian and I have discussions over how we were parented and how we want to parent.  I hear my mom’s voice, and even my grandma’s voice, come out of my mouth.  The past has been unearthed and laid over the present for me to walk through again.

Also at the same time, the beginning of life has catapulted me towards the future.  Since Dylan is our first child, and the first grandchild for both sides of the family, his existence has shifted everyone into a new life stage – a couple to parents, parents to grandparents.  It makes us all think of end-of-life issues.  With luck, Dylan will live to see us die.  He’ll see a world that I will never see.  It’s a concept that is very hard for me to wrap my brain around, and it’s both comforting and terrifying.

It seems odd to me, but the times my son just rips my heart out aren’t when he’s screaming bloody murder.  It’s when he seems bored or has this dejected look on his face.  Up here in my brain, I know that this is me projecting my stuff onto him and that he’s probably just content, or at the very worst, he’s just trying to process the world around him.  But here in my chest, my heart breaks for him, and I am not quite sure why.

Many, many parents say that they can’t imagine their lives without their kids.  I know this will happen for me at some point, but it hasn’t yet.  There are times, sometimes multiple times a day, when I wish for my old life back.  I wish to feel productive in a way that I am accustomed to.  I wish to have more free time.  I wish to have more sleep.  I wish for more predictability in my day.

When I find myself making these wishes, I reframe my frustration and ask myself what I can learn from this.  Again and again, the answer is patience and acceptance.  When I was working as a therapist, a supervisor of mine once said that we are given the clients we need.  So far, I think the same goes for kids.  My son is going to teach me, even force me, how to be more patient and how to accept that I am not in control (and I never was to begin with).

So, thanks, my baby Dylan, for ripping me open.

You’re going to teach me how to be a better person.

And I’m going to let you.