When we had our first daughter, I remember thinking “wow, I’ve never felt this overwhelmed before.” When we had our second daughter 13 months later, and I remember thinking “wow, I’ve never felt this overwhelmed before.” After we had our third daughter and shortly after moved to a new city, I realized just how wrong I was.
This was the definition of overwhelmed. Things could not possibly get more hectic or more stressful. I had never juggled so much all at once. My hands were always full and my mind always going ten thousand miles per hour. I was struggling, I was suffocating but still keeping my head, just barely, above water. I was becoming at peace with my chaos and accepting my circus with a happy heart. And then, life handed me lemons. A huge basket of lemons.
I broke my foot. My right foot. Me, mom of 3. And so, began my journey of figuring out my new reality: mom-ing on one foot.
Women should be exempt from a few things in life. For example, pregnant women. Pregnant women should be exempt from being sick. Pregnant women should never get the stomach bug. Mothers should be exempt from a lot of things. But, most definitely mothers should never break their foot, much less their driving foot.
This just should not happen, especially to mothers who have children who are one year old and under.
What do you do when you are suddenly tasked with the fact that you quite literally can not carry your baby around the house? How will you drive? How would you even get the baby to the car? Or out of the car?
I began, as all modern mothers do, to google. My eyes lit up. There were people out there, in this world, who had too been through this, and most importantly, survived. I found tricks, I found hacks. I was determined, to once again, keep my head above water because in the end the circus must go on.
The first time that I wobbly stood up on my crutches, with my walking boot on my foot, three immediate thoughts popped into my head:
1. This boot is so incredibly heavy.
2. I am so clumsy on two feet. There is no way that I am going to take more than two steps on these crutches without falling and breaking another bone in my body.
3. Okay, I’m standing. Wait a minute! I can’t hold my baby with crutches!
I can imagine the look of sheer terror mixed with confusion that must have been written across my face as I let all of these thoughts sink in. My mom brain started kicking into over-drive and ways to get around this daunting issue. So, I began to “accessorize.”
The first thing we did was borrow a wheel chair. This has been my main source of transportation around the house. I can sit my baby in my lap as we coast around. It has been such a life saver to me as a mom. But, fair warning, your walls and cabinets will never look the same with all of the scuff marks that will be left behind. I also caved in and we purchased a scooter through my doctor’s office. This was not covered by our insurance, but it is more than worth it. I can put the baby in the carrier and scoot around. This especially works well at the grocery store and my sanity-driven trips to Hobby Lobby and Target. Fair warning, the scooter does not take well to bumps (even the tiniest) which is why I prefer the wheel chair at home.
The second accessory I got, almost immediately was a backpack. A purse combined with the baby carrier, crutches/scooter is absolutely impractical. Making the switch to a backpack from a purse was a no brainer and one I highly recommend.
Getting Around With Baby
This is not a hack as much as a I’m-still-figuring-this-thing-out-one-day-at-a-time thing. I have tried several methods of getting around with a baby who has been attached to my hip since birth. As I stated before, the wheel chair has been absolutely the best way to get around the house with the baby. And because I live with children, there are plenty of times when a room is just too messy to get in with the wheel chair and I’m not ashamed to get down and crawl across the room next to the baby. My next task was to get the baby in and out of the car.
I tried several methods, the majority of with being entirely too dangerous for everyone involved. In a last ditch attempt today to get everyone to the car safely, I actually put the baby in her buggy and slowly pushed while I hobbled along using the crutches. It took way longer than I would have liked, but when you’re in survival mode, whatever works, right? And really, all of this is just quite comical when you stop and think about it.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that motherhood could get this complicated.
I never imagined that I would be “scooting” around anywhere with a baby. So, when we’re out in public and the elderly couple pushing their walkers challenges me to a race or the mom across the store yells to me “you got this, mama!,” I’ll take it all with a smile and find the humor in this whole situation.
About a week into this broken foot thing, I realized that I would go insane if I didn’t start doing something for me. And that something turned out to be exercising. Although it’s a bit limiting on what type of exercises you can do with only one foot, it can still be done. Every day I devote 30 minutes to strength work while my kids play. It is amazing how a few push-ups (on your knees) and crunches can help clear your mind. Because, let’s be honest, breaking any bone in your body can be extremely depressing. Getting my workout done every day gives me a sense of personal accomplishment that I can carry with me throughout the day; which is something all mothers need- broken bone or not.
Help. Ask for help. Get help. There is absolutely, positively no way around this one. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like to ask for help. We’ve had meals delivered by some dear friends, my mom was able to come to town for a few days and my husband has been going the extra mile to help me around the house. It is extremely frustrating to not be able to do all of the things that you want to do or need to do and that’s where help comes in. Accept what is offered. This is also a great time to let the independent wings of your children grow. And guess what? Kids like to help! My girls get really excited when I ask them to switch out the laundry for me or help me empty the dishwasher. Who would have thought, right? And when I let my OCD 4 year old loose with the hand vacuum? GENIUS.
Keep Your Chin Up, Mama
When life hands you lemons, take a “vacation.” On top of being a stay-at-home mom, I am also a group fitness instructor; these are two jobs that just don’t work with a broken foot.
I hate not being able to teach my beloved classes but if I think about it too much I will fall into a well of depression. So instead I’m on “vacation,” I’m taking a break. Or in reality I’ve put up a little wall to block the overwhelming feelings that are really there. This is hard. I want to be able to just pick up my baby and walk around the house with her. I want to be able to go for a run, walk around the block, teach a class. I can’t do any of those things. But, I can’t dwell there, I just can’t. There are too many people in my family who need me to be functioning for me to get stuck in a bad spot. So, I’ll take my vacation. I’ll put my foot up during the day and I’ll let the baby enjoy her naps on top of me. I’ll take long baths at the end of my day and not care who complains about my soft, instrumental music. I’ll remind myself throughout each day to be grateful for all of the things that I have in my life. How incredibly humbling is it to know that this inconvenience of mine is only temporary! That is something that I could not be more grateful for.