I have done something horrifically awful to my left foot, which is my laziest foot, so I’m really not surprised it was the one that got injured.
The noodles were in the pot, boiling away, the children scattered about playing amicably, and I was multi-tasking: preparing dinner and changing loads of laundry. I took a load out of the dryer and brought it across the kitchen toward my sunken living room. Sunken is important. If it wasn’t a sunken living room, if a year and a half ago we had gone with the house that had the living room on the same plane as the kitchen, I would not be in this mess right now.
Two steps lead into our living room. The first step I took was without incident. It was the second step that killed me, that and the matchbox car on the floor. I crumpled like a soda can that’s been stepped upon. I screamed as it was happening because in that instant, I saw the days stretched out before me, days where I would be hopping about the house on one foot, hopping after my kids, crawling up stairs, unable to put pressure on my foot.
The reason I think it might be broken is because after the initial pain, which was severe and endless and nauseating, there was no short reprieve. The pain lessened, but was consistent. Generally, when I twist my ankle or foot, the pain eventually subsides and gives me the illusion that everything is going to be okay. I fall for this trick EVERY TIME. I lope around, further injuring myself, when what I should be doing is resting and icing my foot. A day later I wake up all swollen with a great excuse for avoiding housework.
My foot swelled right away, and continues to do so. After the fall, I sat on the floor waiting for the throbbing to cease and desist. It never quite did. The timer went off and I just sat there, knowing I was overcooking the noodles. The kids stared at me contemplatively. They were probably thinking Mama has lost it… again.
John was and is still out with a client. I fed the kids and then I put on the television, my faithful and loyal babysitter in emergency situations. I crawled into the other room and sat on the window seat, my leg laid out before me, and I slowly removed my sock and stared at the purple jumbo-sized egg that seemed to be growing beneath my skin. Then, I put a bag of frozen peas on it. And then I cried. Because it hurt. Because I was alone. Because I felt really really sorry for myself and I wanted my mom.
The kids were watching Dora the Explorer. Dora is always “engaging” her young audience, asking them questions… is this kind of television superior to the kind that completely ignores its audience? Anyway, Dora was talking about thankfulness. She asked her television audience: What are YOU thankful for?
I heard Caleb’s soft voice answer, “My mommy.”
I’m the mom now. Not that I can’t call on my own mom, and believe me I do, but I am now the one who needs to provide a sense of security and unconditional love. And there are evenings like this one, where I’m taking turns gazing out the window at the cold, dark November night and then at my cold, purple foot, that I feel so inadequate for the job. I wonder, how can I do this right? How can I be a parent who won't feel the need to apologize to her adult children for all of the ways she failed? And I fail in so many different ways every day.
But he’s still thankful for me. I’m the person he thought of when Dora asked the question. And I don’t think he would lie to Dora. She’s intimidating for a cartoon. Plus, she has a crazy monkey sidekick I wouldn’t mess with, either.
Listening to that voice from across the hall, I felt a sadness settle on me. It was quiet and lovely, but sad… and it was one of the few times that I’ve thought to myself… this is what grace feels like.