When I broke my wrist two weeks before summer break from school, my sons were almost as effected by it as I was. Not only did I have to slow down, but I had to also ask for and accept help. It also meant swimming would be more challenging.
As a mother of three little boys ages 7, 4, and 2, life with two healthy wrists can be difficult on a good day. They are rambunctious, active, and very energetic as well as loud and silly. They are also needy, demanding, and a times exhausting.
For weeks, as summer neared, we talked about how much fun we were going to have swimming at the pool. As I headed to my first appointment with the orthopedist, I reassured the boys that I would get a waterproof one. Boldly, I told them,
Don’t worry. I am not going to let this broken wrist ruin our summer. I promise.
A “teach-able” moment
This is one of those pivotal moments in parenting. I had a chance to teach them an important lesson. A lesson on the power we have to choose how we handle any given situation. And that while we can not control everything, we can choose how we look at the situation. A lesson that our power lies in our perspective. I wanted to do this correctly. I would get a waterproof cast and deal with the discomfort without allowing it to steal our joy.
An hour later, I found myself listening to the doctor lecture me on why I couldn’t have a waterproof cast. I felt defeated. But I remained determined. By the time I got home I had already ordered a waterproof cast cover. I was prepared to explain to my boys that even though the cast was uncomfortable, and while “it stinks”, and I couldn’t get a waterproof cast, I was still not going to let it ruin our summer.
Healing (in more ways than one)
During this time I was not only struggling with the pain of healing bones, but I was also desperately trying to heal from my eating disorder. As I embraced true recovery for the first time in my life I was also challenged with accepting a body that was a different shape and size than I had ever lived in.
The fear of wearing a bathing suit plagued me. But the day I drove home with my new cast, I had an a-ha moment. I was determined to keep my word. Through it I was going to teach my boys resilience, perseverance, and that they have a choice in every situation of how they want to look at it. I had promised my boys that I was not going to allow this to steal joy from our summer.
But for most of my life I had allowed a “broken” body image to steal my OWN joy. That is the moment I decided that I can no longer focus on my thighs if I want to keep my promise. And that the person I should really be making promises to was myself.
Keeping difficult promises
For the next four weeks I sported an uncomfortably tight purple cast along with an even more uncomfortable cast cover. The two weeks later I wore the bright pink waterproof cast (my doctor finally agreed to it). Then the boys and I went to the pool even more frequently. I am typing this now while on the third week of wearing an ugly scratchy brace.
It has been been challenging at times, but I can honestly say that my boys and I are creating joyful memories this summer. I am keeping my promises.
A few weeks ago I timidly asked my husband to snap a few pictures while I played with my boys in the pool. In the bathing suit I self-consciously wore. I will be honest, when I first look at these pictures my eyes are drawn to the larger body I am still learning to accept and love.
What truly matters?
But, I am continuing to keep my promise to my boys and myself. So, when I look at the photos I am choosing to focus on the joy in my son’s faces as their I make playing and finding joy a priority. Instead of focusing on my body, I will focus on the new memories that were created. I will focus on the laughter we shared as we splashed and acted silly. I choose to focus on the feeling of love surrounding me. Because that is what truly matters.
So my question to all of the warriors out there is this:
What is it in your life that is stealing your joy? And what would it be like if you promised to stop letting it?