I spent this past summer planning activities and events so as not to miss out on anything with my kids. Knowing that my Total Hip Replacement was on August 1st I knew my summer was limited to only about 6 weeks of fun. Addi and I came up with our summer bucket list – filled with everything from day trips to Keystone Park, swimming at Grammie’s, Round Hill Park, and many others. I knew many of the things she’d listed would be tough to do as I was on crutches many days and in severe pain with my hip. But we did our best, and by the end of the summer we’d crossed off EVERY single thing on that bucket list….. including a trip to Kenny Wood the night before surgery and a trip to Keystone Park to swim a couple of weeks after.
For some reason it was more important for me to get to everything on the list this summer. Not sure if it was just pre-surgery nerves or what, but feeling as if I had to keep “my word” and do what I said we’d do seemed really important to me – in a different way.
When Addi was going to the zoo with her Girlscout troop Charlie, Quinn and I went with her. I walked on crutches for nearly 4 hours until I finally had to tap out and sit down for a bit. In the long run she may not remember how long it took me to get around, but she will remember that I was there. She will remember that I pretended my crutch was a stick and I was hitting the big fish over the head in the aquarium. She will remember that I was right next to her when that Polar bear scared the crap out of her when he came up to the glass unexpectedly.
Several times we went to local parks and played at the playground. The kids will remember me at the bottom of the slide. Addi will remember that I couldn’t sit in the swing because it hurt my hip… but that I am a really strong “pusher” and made Quinn fly in the sky. And she will remember how we’d collected sticks and anything else that looked like a treasure and would spend time at home on the patio sorting through all of the leaves and treasures they’d collected.
Swimming at Grammie and PapPap’s house was very much in our plans this past summer. We spent a ton of time there and Quinn became quite the swimmer this season. Often times I wasn’t able to walk up to the pool deck let alone get into the swimming pool. On good days, though, I made it a point to get in that water – even if it was only for 10 minutes. Both kids will remember me watching every time I heard “Mama watch this…” They will remember that Mama was present, maybe not for long, but I was there. And while most of the time I would be laying on the couch with my leg up they will remember that we were there, as a family.
We made it out to Round Hill Splash Park one day – and although I had to sit on the bench and was on crutches they had a blast! They will remember squirting me with water at the splash park and dipping my toes into the squirters. And they will remember Daddy chasing Quinn all over the playground while Addi tried out the new “workout equipment.”
Heading to Kerbers was always fun – and going to visit PaPa beforehand and walking over was even more special. My kids will remember flying through the air on his tire swing while Mama sat in the grass nearby. They will remember the cool squirrels and looking for the deer out back. They will remember stained lips filled with blue dinosaur crunch ice cream.
Bike riding was on the list… and I knew this would be a challenge. Addi wanted to go to the bike trail many times and I just couldn’t take her. We did manage to get there once, Daddy even came and pulled Quinn in the cool Mario Cart. lol. I wasn’t able to bike as it was just way too hard on my hip. So I drove to the trail with everyone, unloaded, and then got into the car myself and drove to where they were biking to… a cool quiet little spot with a creek where the kids like to toss rocks into the water. I was so happy to see everyone and be able to sit for a half hour and watch the kids play, and pray that Quinn didn’t launch a rock into someone’s head by accident.
I will admit, I did become tearful as we went back to the parking lot and everyone else got on their bikes and pulled away… and I was getting back into my car. In the moment… I was upset and disappointed that I couldn’t ride with everyone. My kids will remember that Mama walked down to the creek and brought them the best damn chocolate chip cookies from Subway. And they will remember that Daddy pulled Quinn in the cart. Both a win, for sure.
Speaking of wins… I managed to coach Addi’s Fab 5 Soccer Team to victory at a tournament this past summer. While I was a bit reluctant to coach as I wasn’t sure if my hip would be able to hang in there for a long day of standing and coaching… I went for it. Quinn was sick that weekend so I didn’t have Charlie there to help out. Luckily, the parents on our team were wonderful and willingly took over lugging my bags and other nonsense to and from fields. It was a great weekend full of fun, sun, and wins… Addi will never forget putting that 1st place medal around her neck for the first time – and having Mama there as her coach.
We didn’t get to Keystone Park to swim before my surgery – and Addi was pretty upset about it. A couple of weeks after my surgery my Mom graciously offered to cart me and my kids and all our many bags and stuff to Keystone for the day. We had to take a big recliner chair for me to sit in so that I didn’t break my post-operative restrictions. It was scorching hot that day, and I felt like my leg was on fire. It swelled up pretty badly and wasn’t at all comfortable… but I was there. I watched my kids swimming with Grammie and my sister and her kids… and I was just present. Sometimes that’s all it takes, right? Just being present…..
This past summer my focus shifted on exactly that – being present in the lives of the people I love. Sure I spent a lot of time on my computer and phone, I connect and I work a lot on building my business. It’s a nonstop process…. BUT…. This summer I learned balance. I learned that being present in my kids lives doesn’t always mean being the one catching them when they jump off the pool deck or at the bottom of the slide. It sometimes means sitting on the sidelines and watching them feel joy. It sometimes means allowing God to fill in the gaps for you. I have learned that taking care of them sometimes means that my own feelings of disappointment or frustration come second to their feelings of happiness. One of the greatest lessons I learned this summer was that God does that FOR us by putting people in our lives to help. When I couldn’t take care of my kids because I was down with my leg God made sure Charlie and I had the help we needed.
Being present in the lives of people we love doesn’t just happen. We have to work for it. We have to be aware of moments of joy, moments of pain, and moments of opportunity. We have to be committed to being in the moment. Answering calls of “mama watch this” with a watchful eye and an excited spirit. I work on this. I know I still need improvement. I know there are still times I answer with an annoyed voice as I try to type out that last email or punch in that text message… I am not perfect.
I am working on becoming more present in the lives of those I love. I am working on watching from the sidelines sometimes and not feeling guilty about the things I cannot tackle. I am working on knowing when my place is on the sidelines and when I need to be in the game. I am working on finding the strength to acknowledge the things I need help with and allowing God to fill in my gaps.
I hope you find the courage to do the same.