Two days ago, I fell leaving daycare with my son, and though I didn’t need another reminder that I’m alone in this whole parenting endeavor, there one was.
There also was my rolled ankle, swelling and darkening in my favorite black leather gladiator sandals. There was the pavement. There was my boy, unhurt, concerned for me, wriggling and untangling himself from all our legs and arms on the ground. There I was, calling for help.
I’m going to move right past the part about being triggered by being in pain on the ground. This was not like those other times. This time, help came when I called.
I’m just going to back up and say what happened. I was walking out a door I don’t normally leave from, and there’s a small step. I was carrying Jax on my left hip, like usual, along with his cup, backpack, and some daycare paperwork. I pushed the heavy door open with my left elbow, stepped down, and immediately rolled my left ankle. I started to fall forward and to the left, which meant I would’ve fallen with my full weight on my son, or at least banged his head and body against the door. Instead, I threw my weight backward in the other direction, twisting my back and right knee and falling on my right hip instead.
Jax was fine. Actually, Jax said, “Wheeee!” Mama is a regular carnival ride, huh? I said, “Mama hurt her leg, baby,” and he looked at my foot, then back at me and said, “Mamaaaa” with this sad look on his face. There it is: empathy. I don’t know what age kids begin to learn to feel bad when others are hurting, but my boy is there.
And “there” is a relative term, because as fast as his empathy appeared, it was replaced with the trademark toddler opportunism and curiosity, as he started to dash away from me into a busy parking lot. Before he could steal a car and head for the border, I grabbed his hand and somehow got him to stay, and then I yelled for help.
Three people came running to me. A nice lady picked up Jax while I figured out if I could put weight on my leg. I could. It sucked, but I could. Of course, I had to hobble back inside and fill out an accident report because of course they thought I might sue them. I’m not going to sue them. I fell. No one’s fault but mine.
And getting my son home safely? Getting into the house with all our stuff? Fixing his lunch, changing his diaper, and getting him down for a nap? Getting him back to daycare and myself to work the next day, so I can get paid and we can eat and wear clothes? Also all on me. Limp or no limp.
This is just a little post to say that sometimes moms—single or not, and sometimes dads, too—move so fast, do so much, that we get hurt. We have accidents, and we try to minimize their impact on our kids. We feel lonely and frustrated when there are unforeseen setbacks.
And when it’s just you, and there’s no second parent to lean on until you’ve healed, you can either sit and cry about pain and aloneness or stand up and limp back into the fray.
I am not a perfect mom or human, and I don’t think I deserve any accolades for limping through life sometimes. I’m glad I didn’t break anything, and I’m so grateful Jax wasn’t hurt. I need to slow down and be more careful. I don’t want to whine. But damn is it hard to just put one foot in front of the other sometimes.