Tuesday, February 9, 2010


: to move along unsteadily or with difficulty; especially : to limp along

I've been hobbling around for nearly three weeks now and I would like to think I've learned a bit from it. If nothing else, I know that when I am finally able to walk with a normal gait, when I am able to move steadily and without difficulty, I will be inordinately thankful. Walking is something that the vast majority of us take for granted. We simply put one foot in front of the other and our body complies without thought, without effort. Having not had that luxury for many days now, I find myself marveling when I am able to walk from one room to another and roll all the way through the ball of my right foot with each step. This, for me, is momentous.

I have decided that the old saying about absence making the heart grow fonder is true. Many of my daily activities were taken away from me the moment the surgeon snipped three tendons. I never thought myself overly fond of driving, of grocery shopping, of taking care of life's little everyday tasks. Yet, I miss them now. As I pondered this last week, I came to the realization that I enjoy my mundane life as a stay-at-home mom very much. I am fond of making dinner for my family, whether I'm cooking a particular family favorite or something I'll likely never throw together again. I enjoy keeping our house orderly, if not clean. (Even three weeks on the sofa hasn't made me long to mop the floor or clean the toilets.) But most of all, I've realized how much I enjoy mothering.

For the first week following my surgery, I was able to do almost no hands-on mothering. I couldn't even let little K sit in my lap and read her a book. I have gradually been able to take part in some of the hands on tasks of motherhood, but many of them (giving a bath, preparing a dinner, picking up toys from the floor) are, quite literally, still out of my reach. And what I've realized with some astonishment is that I truly enjoy many aspects of mothering.

I'll be honest: At times, I have hobbled through motherhood. When my daughters were young, I struggled with the sheer physical demands placed on me. As my husband will tell you, with no small degree of sadness and a touch of frustration, I can only stand so much of someone touching me in one day. There were many days when my daughters were toddlers that I was willing to give him no more than a peck on the cheek when he returned home after a long day at work. I quickly found after leaving my job in the business world that taking care of two small children was not something that allowed you to mark things off of your To Do list. I washed the dishes, they ate again in two hours. I did laundry, they spilled chocolate milk on their dresses. I mopped the floor, they came running inside with glee and muddy shoes. All of this is obviously part of life and part and parcel of mothering. Since I didn't enjoy it, I decided I was a bad mother.

So I have been encouraged to realize that even though I can't do any of those things right now, I am still the only mother my daughters have. And they don't love me any less because I can't load the dishwasher right now. They do love that we can once again spend part of each day reading The Iliad together. They love crafting, assembling and creating Valentine's cards together. They love going through my closet as they try to determine exactly how a 100 year old person would dress (since I am the closest thing they have to a 100 year old!).

Hobbling through life has given me a gift: the gift of realizing that I am no longer hobbling through motherhood. I'm not a ball room dancer, either. I don't handle every twist and turn with grace and aplomb. But I do enjoy it and I am becoming more and more capable in the areas that matter most to me. So while I'll continue to hobble from room to room for a while longer, I'm going to remind myself that in the ways that matter, I am strolling along just fine.

My friend has been hosting a series of thoughts on what it means to be a member of the Imperfect Mamas Club. I'm definitely in her club, as this post indicates. Head over there to read more...


Anonymous said...

I think you reminiscing about housework means that you are recovering well! You may not be able to walk or to do anything about your girls splashing at you from the tub, but at least you can write!
It is always good to be reminded that we are not alone in the "feeling like I do nothing but housework and nothing worthwhile...I don't think I like this part of motherhood" realm. And believe me, you are not alone!

Natalie said...

I've been thinking about you and wondering how you're getting along (probably means I should call you!).

I know this isn't really what your post is about, but I'm with you on the touching thing. Having very small children is tough on that sensory issue. Miles has an ear infection and yesterday I was DONE with the baby holding.

As always, thanks for your honesty. I DO think you are strolling along just fine!