This blog post has been contributed by Tina George.
I had a small accident last month and ended up with a fracture on my foot. When you lose the use of one foot, you lose a lot of things. You lose the ability to walk, to move from one place to another, lose the ability to dress and bathe easily, to do chores at home. And you lose the ability to take care of your 18 month old daughter.
The reaction my situation evoked in my daughter Myrah was heart warming and thought-provoking at the same time. The day the event happened, I was in a lot of pain. I could see the anxiety on Myrah’s face as she clung to her dad. In the days that followed immediately, as I sat home with a cast, and used crutches to walk around, it felt like she almost thought of me as a different person. Somebody with appendices to her body – not her mother who would come running to meet her and scoop her up in her arms.
Myrah would come back from daycare and refuse to come to me. She wouldn’t let her dad put her down anywhere near me. I felt bad, but knew I had to give her a few days. As the days progressed, she slowly started getting used to the situation. After the initial hesitation, she would come near me, although with some trepidation. The first few times her leg touched the cast she would get upset and run away, or look at my leg very strangely! But she started bringing her toys near me and playing with me. However, her frustration at not having me move with her showed itself quite often. She would want me to pick her up and take her somewhere. She would cry, lying on the floor in protest, when I couldn’t. I felt helpless and frustrated. My husband James had to pay extra care and attention, to make sure she felt safe and secure through it all.
As weeks passed, she became comfortable with the new me! We started playing games sitting down, she found it very exciting that I had to sit down while going up and down the stairs, and we would do that together. She held on to my crutches and walked with me wherever I went. If she sensed I was getting up to go somewhere, she would run and get my crutches for me. She wouldn’t let me walk without her by my side. I knew she delighted in being a part of the whole thing.
Eventually she became my helper – if a toddler can be that. On my requests, she wouldn’t hesitate to fetch me something, put her dirty clothes in the laundry bag, close doors, get me a towel, put things in the garbage can, even try to put cream on my feet! One day when the crutch accidentally fell on my broken foot, and I let out a small ouch, she came running, sat down and started patting my foot, while giving me loving glances. My heart melted! I sensed that she took delight in helping me, in sharing my pain and being a part of my misery. There were times she felt unsure and anxious, and needed more attention, and assurance that it was ok for mommy to be like this. That her world will not collapse because of this. She needed to see that her safety net was still intact, and that all her needs would still be met. But I watched that fear and concern turn into loving, caring, helping, joyful moments. I guess this is what they call the joys of motherhood.
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