Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's Mommy's Turn

I’m disabled. More importantly, I’m a mom. When I was finally given a release date from acute rehab, all of my anxiety surrounded around my son. How am I going to change a diaper when I can barely pull my own pants down? How am I going to make him something to eat when I can’t even feed myself with my right hand? I had horrible visions of us both with mashed peas smeared all over our shirts and pee running down both our legs. Today I’ve been home exactly 30 days. It’s been a challenge for all of us to get used to mommy still being kind of broken, but it’s working out well. My son will be 2yrs old next month. At this age, there is no need to really explain because he wouldn’t understand. Instead, my husband and I have had to revise some ground rules around the house for safety, but for the most part life isn’t that different for our little guy.

The biggest changes for him so far are that mommy can’t pick him up when he falls down, and I can’t carry him up or down the stairs. He doesn’t think it’s a big deal. If he falls and hurts himself, I come to him and hold his hands. He was confused by this at first, wanting me to lift him into my arms, but now he is ok with it. Daddy has to carry him upstairs to bed now. Instead of asking for me, he runs to me for a good night kiss and says “night night mama.” I used to do all the bedtime duties because I worked fulltime during the day. Now that I’m on disability, I get to be home with him all day. It’s amazing fun.

I was once so nervous about how this was going to work. Now I’ve learned that children adapt quickly to new things. While I worried about how to do for him, it never occurred to me how much he would do for me. He isn’t used to having me home during the week. Now that I’m here, he wants me to read him stories, color with him, put on his favorite shows…all the usual fun kid stuff. Yes, it’s friggin’ awesome spending all day goofing off. But it’s even better than that. All this kid stuff is therapy!

My OT asked me if I have been doing my exercises. I said yes, my son makes sure of it! Reading stories means I have to practice using my bad hand to hold a book and turn pages. Turning pages requires dexterity in the fingers that I don’t quite have yet, but trying it everyday is great practice for my brain to remap that function. All of his favorite shows involve singing and dancing. He tries so hard to mimic the dance moves on TV so I do the same – awesome physical therapy for arm and leg! Building with wooden blocks and driving hot wheels have done wonders for my arm.  

I still can’t hold a fork, toothbrush, or pen with my right hand, but check out what I was able to do with a big fat stick of sidewalk chalk!
I made myself go from A to Z. My boy practiced saying his ABCs while mommy practiced writing again. I’ve been playing with my kid for a whole month now. Yesterday I went to write something on the family whiteboard, which is always with my left hand out of necessity. This time, without thinking about it, I started writing with my right hand. I managed 3 letters before I realized what I was doing. Of course the markers are big and fat so they’re much easier to hold than a pen, but up until now I couldn’t do it. I stood there staring in disbelief. I told my OT about it later and he said it’s called spontaneous use which happens when your brain starts figuring out how to communicate with your body again. I have to admit I couldn’t do any more than those 3 letters. (no, they weren't F-U-C...) It’s hard to describe the bizarre sensation I get in my hand when I use it, but it becomes so overwhelming my hand freezes up. It’s similar to trying to run in deep water, only it’s my hand. At least that’s how it feels right now while typing. Oh yeah…I made myself use both hands to type this.

Mommy is still broken, but a little boy’s tenacity and his cluttered toy box are going to put me back together again, one jumpy-jump-jump at a time. Quit breaking the damn crayons, it’s mommy’s turn.


  1. Edna Dunn AlexanderJuly 31, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    This is so Neat***Been there myself w/my Husband along w/my two son;s:)Thank you Lord along w/all my family & ER Staff @ Williamson Medical Center***EDDA

  2. really fantastic. i'm so glad that you're writing your experiences down and sharing them. you're helping me with my recovery. thank you.

  3. I am so impressed how you have found a silver lining in the midst of your misfortunes. How amazing it is that caring for your child can double as therapy for you. Great writing. I'll be back. Thanks for commenting over at Momformation. Good luck with all you're dealing with. I am humbled.

  4. This is great. You are finding a real untapped part of yourself, and it's really neat to witness. You're a very talented writer, so honest and putting it out there. Sometimes things work out in weird ways, ways we don't expect. I like the term "spontaneous use." Thanks for the comment on my Pippi post = ).