Nothing Doing

See this view?

It's mine.

I had major hip surgery 11 days ago (more on that later), and this particular surgery has a long and complicated recovery. LONG. Did I mention it is lengthy?

I can bear zero weight on my operative leg (the right one) for a total of six weeks, so here I sit. Actually, I can only sit in short spurts too. So here I lie. Or lay. Whatever–I couldn't figure out "lie/lay" even before pain meds.

(And let us pause for a moment to acknowledge that if you zoom in on that picture, you will see the name of the socks are "Bair Paws". Seriously. They gave me misspelled socks in the hospital's pre-op room. I took one look at them and started to gather my things and told Hubs, "IF THEY CAN'T SPELL 'BEAR' THEY ARE NOT CUTTING OPEN MY HIP." Thankfully, he talked me off this ledge, as they are the most comfortable socks I have ever worn. Also, and I really need you to work with me and picture this, the Bair Paws gown they gave me had a hose attached and it blew comfy warm air into my gown. I am a chronic spelling snob, but I'm also a chronic cold person, and guess what? Comfort wins. Nice job, Bair Paws people. Atrocious spelling, but great product.)

Back to recovery.

(Side note: Clearly, the FDA should list that a side effect of painkillers is over-use of italics and parentheses.)

I haven't been this helpless since I was a toddler. I can't fix a drink and carry it with me to the couch. I can't sit at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. I can't sweep a floor or empty a trashcan or drive a car or walk to the mailbox with my husband.

My mother–the Greatest Hero In My World–has all but moved in to run my family. Precious friends are providing weeks of meals and rides for my kids and are coming to sit with me so that I will not be alone.

This is how it will be for much of the summer. Once I can start walking in six weeks, I am assured the recovery will still be slow and my limitations will be many. I am told my joint will not be normal, strong, and pain-free for six months.

And I won't lie to you: This is hard.

Me, the mom of the carpool, the class party, the field trip, the sleepover, the mega-grocery trip–I am a bump on this couch while that world outside my window just whirls along without me.

And I feel it, smacking me in the head every time I look around, the lesson that hangs in the air waiting to be learned: I can still love my people.

Let me repeat that, because I don't fully believe it yet, even though a little part of my brain knows it must be true: I can still love my people.

I sit here, waited on hand and foot, knowing how much work I'm creating for the people I love best. And I can't help. I cannot love them by jumping up and fixing them a casserole or driving to dance class. I can love them, as I sit (lay/lie) here. I can listen, pray, watch, laugh, comfort, but I can't DO.

And guess what? Loving your people by DOING is way easier than loving them the other ways. I realize, painfully, how addicted I've been to proving my love to my family (and myself) by just moving around on their behalf all the time.

The other day, I crutched myself gently out to my front porch because I need to breathe some air. It was starting to sprinkle, and my ten-year-old daughter dashed out past me and began to dance in the rain. I just watched her, easing myself onto a bench. She danced. And I just watched. I didn't run inside to grab my phone and snap a picture of the cute moment. I didn't watch for ten seconds and then tell her, sorry, I have to go inside and fold clothes now. I just watched her. I watched the beautiful length of her legs, and the funny way the hair started to stick to the side of her face. I just watched and savored that moment, right there.

I just loved her.

I am seeing these moments begin to take shape, as I let go of the old ways of loving my family and try to embrace these newer (and harder) ones. I listen to the sound of my husband's footsteps in the kitchen as he prepares my meds and comes to put me in bed, and I pray that God will ease his burdens. I just love him.

When my son needs to discuss a school frustration, I do not cut the conversation short to hop onto the next thing, because I can't–because the only way I can love him is to hear him. And we talk, more deeply than we've ever talked on the topic. I just love him.

I am ashamed how hard it is to slow down and love my family in this new way. I should've learned it years ago.  I wonder what all I have missed when I dashed off to fold their towels instead of watching them dance in the rain?

Teach me, Lord.



15 thoughts on “Nothing Doing

  1. Barbara H. says:

    Although I am very happy to see a post from you pop up in my news feed, I am sorry it’s because of surgery. This one sounds like a doozy. I hope and pray you have a speedy and uncomplicated recovery.
    I found some similar realizations 19 years ago when a virus hit my spine and I couldn’t walk on my own for months. Despite all the issues that created, one big benefit was having more time to just sit and listen.
    Maybe the Bair company is named after someone whose name is spelled like that? I can understand your initial reaction, though. 🙂

  2. Melanie says:

    I understand so much of this post. I’m not laid up because of surgery, but there are so many times I wondered how my family will know I love them if I’m not doing. I wonder how I’ll be a role model if I’m not working. But they do know, don’t they? They know we love them and they love us. They want to help us as much as we want to help them. I’m sending all of my patient and healing thoughts your way. And kudos to your mom for always being your rock. She is amazing.

  3. Deborah Tomai says:

    I agree with Barbara! So nice to see you here, but so sorry you had to have surgery. I hope the recovery goes well, and that you continue to reap the benefits of time off, slowing down and paying attention.

  4. Kerri Johnson says:

    Love this! I was no-weight-bearing for six weeks last November/December. I couldn’t “do” anything normally associated with the holidays for my family. But it was one of the most peaceful holiday seasons I can remember since my childhood! I too, enjoyed just watching, really watching, my children. And now, I appreciate so much more having two legs and being able to “do” for my family. Even everyday chores like cleaning up the kitchen are no longer seen as boring, mundane work. I am just so glad I can do it! Being laid up really changes one’s perspective. (Showering with two legs still seems like a luxury to me. I’m at the six month mark now; I doubt I’ll ever take my feet/legs for granted again!)

  5. Loripotpie says:

    Your words touched my heart. I’m currently healing from whiplash injuries from being rear-ended. Thank you for sharing your experience and insight. It was just what I needed.

  6. Deborah Tisch says:

    I love the title of your blog, and that may be why I subscribed so long ago! So, when I see those rocks in my dryer in my inbox, I take notice.
    I’m inspired by the new things you are learning about yourself and how to be in this world.
    Blessings to you as you heal and grow…

  7. BeckyB says:

    Thanks for giving me the advantage of your perspective without having to experience a hip surgery. I too am a ‘doer’ in showing love and I so want to become more of an enjoyer of my loved ones. I’ve recently had some knee issues and had a two week stint in a wheelchair so got a taste of what you’re talking about. It IS hard! Hope you continue to heal (quickly) and learn (slowly).

  8. Laurieann says:

    My husband’s sixth week passed last week. We’ve never been so happy to see crutches in our whole lives. Except, of course, for the other two times he’s done this six-month recovery kind of surgery. You counted right, this is his third. As a caregiver to a lay/lie-r just wanted to give a shout out to your husband and mom! Forgive them. They love you but they are bound to screw this up! May your six weeks and months be filled with patience, good books, and new seasons of your favorite shows. May your pain meds be effective, your children kind, and your rides to the doctor bump-free. Hang. In!

  9. Kim says:

    So sorry to hear you even had a need of surgery, let alone have to recover for that long. I have to admit, though, I was glad to see a post from you pop up in my feed. I have missed the rocks in your dryer.

  10. Jules says:

    So glad I stopped by your blog out-of-the-blue to read this post. I’m so sorry that you’re having to go through this, and I’m praying for you as you adjust and recover. What a challenge for us do-do-do kind of gals!
    I was just released from the hospital two weeks ago myself, so I’m right there with you.

  11. ohAmanda says:

    Beautiful, Shannon! How can I love by LOVING instead of DOING?
    (I was ecstatic to see you pop up in my reader–sad it’s b/c you’re stuck on the couch! Praying for healing as you rest!)

  12. Headless Mom says:

    So much to say…. Welcome back! Heal well! What a beautiful summer it will be for us, your readers, if you continue to use the blog as part of your recovery! Prayers for comfort and healing to you!

  13. Lauren says:

    Thank you for sharing your new way of loving! It’s never too late.! I think your kids will embrace the “heart change.” My mom will be undergoing a surgery that will have down as well for 6 weeks. I’ve never questioned her love but she’s always on the go. This will be a challenge for her. Perhaps she will find a new way to “love her people” Perhalps we will find a new way to love her!
    Best of luck on your recovery! Enjoy watching your daughter dance in the rain! When your better…Perhalps, you could join her?! 🙂
    Best wishes,

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