After six weeks, my cast is off and I’ve started physical therapy. I am taking baby steps, quite literally, and still with the support of crutches. And with the combined excitement of both a newly upright toddler and her proud parents, I am startled at each new ability: to move my foot left and right, to stand in the shower, to go up and down stairs.
I’ve had a lot to think about over these last 6 weeks. Below, the lessons that have spoken loudest to me:
1. Don’t look for love in all the wrong places – i.e., Facebook. The isolation of being injured threw me into Facebook for more minutes per day than I care to admit. Facebook is a great virtual water cooler – nothing more and nothing less, despite all the deceptive language involved like “friends” and “like.” Nonetheless, I did pout over Max’s 30 Likes on a photo of the croquettes he made for dinner one evening while I only got about 3 Likes on the post I had put up. I do not ever want to feel 14 years old again.
2. Busy is better than the alternative. I used to complain about running around like crazy. What I wouldn’t do now, to be able to run around. Like crazy.
3. And on a related note, mobility is privilege. I was never a particularly active person; now I cannot imagine having two healthy legs and choosing not to move. Inactivity is for those who don’t have a choice. Once I have the choice, I will be moving.
4. Fathers can make excellent mothers. There was a time when I felt more comfortable being in control of the home, because I believed I knew best about Fred’s nuanced eating and sleep needs, his complex and daily-changing school and activities schedule, and so forth. But time and again Max has proven that he can not only do this mom’s job, he can often do it better, faster and with less screaming. And that does not make me jealous or threatened…it makes me love him more.
5. Friends will not ask for help unless and until they are on the brink of death. If I had been willing to ask for help, I wouldn’t have gotten into this mess in the first place. (I didn’t have a car the day of my accident, and chose to bike to pick Fred up from camp instead of asking a friend for a ride). All this to mean, when a friend is sick, laid up, hurt or lonely, instead of saying “Let me know how I can help,” the best thing to do is to send a care package or insist on babysitting or show up on her door step and say, “Here’s dinner. Now eat it.”
6. Along similar lines, it takes 2 minutes to show that we care. That’s how long it takes to click Compose, type “How are you? I was thinking of you.” and hit Send. We then have 1078 minutes left in our day to do all the important things we are otherwise so busy with. Those 2 minutes won’t make a dent in our lives but can mean the difference between a friend sinking deeper into depression or being able to get on with the rest of her day in purgatory with a smile. To someone who is not well, minutes feel like days, and a hello from a friend is a life preserver.
Thought I’d underscore this point.
7. Life is still richer if you let yourself see where your body can take you. I will continue to let my boy run, bike, climb trees, and go for his black belt in martial arts. I will swallow that impulse to cry, “Don’t! You might get hurt!” and I will need to do the same for myself.
8. No one has to have it harder or easier. Don’t let anyone tell you that your difficulty conceiving is less worthy of feeling than her miscarriage or her child’s disability or her child’s passing. If it is tough for you, then it is tough for you. Let’s not make a competition out of what life has done to us.
9. At the same time, people do have it hard. Being immobile has been no picnic, but I will heal and move on, and my heart will not be heavy. Not everyone can heal as cleanly from the blows that they have been dealt. Many never will. I know what could have been but wasn’t, and that I am lucky.
10. Where life breaks, growth can happen…if you let it.