There are so many things I want to say in this post. It will be hard to narrow down what to share and what to save for another time.
You all know how I feel about the Olympics. And amazing recovery and achievement stories. I have told you how much I love seeing others overcome the odds and fight hard for a victory. The media shares with us these beautiful stories of redemption and accomplishments despite hardships.
There will be plenty I have to say about those victories and celebrations, but today is all about limitations.
Respecting limitations is a hard line to follow. Setting boundaries around physical limitations can feel like loss and defeat.
How can we try to find enjoyment in the limitations that feel crushing and binding and like weights holding us down from life?
I am here to tell you, that joy CAN be found in limitations.
That does not mean we have to blow past our physical limitations or overcome and “win”, there simply is joy to be found IN those limits. The boundaries…..there can be joy within that and total freedom and full living too!
I love reading about teens who overcome paralysis to learn to walk again and challenge the medical predictions. I cry when I read stories of soldiers who are injured in combat who come home to hike mountains and swim miles and miles all in the face of pure challenge. Those stories should be celebrated!
To the mom who has MS and still completes a marathon in an adapted bike. To the child who overcomes cancer and now uses prosthetics while playing on their baseball team. WOW! Such accomplishments! I won’t downplay any of that. I won’t say that their struggles, tears, drive, and determination are anything short of spectacular.
But this post is for the ones who won’t achieve those big moments. This is for the ones who HAVE to stay in bed or can’t drive themselves to lunch with friends.
I want to specifically encourage and celebrate the ones who have to sit quietly and put a priority on the tiny, mundane, everyday living tasks.
In our fast-paced culture, stress and “being busy” are glorified and something we strive after. When a chronic illness limits us, we must go against that and put a new narrative in our mind of being slow, thoughtful, careful, and really evaluate.
My days now are different. They are pretty quiet. I make dinner in the afternoon so that I have the extra energy at the 5 pm hour to be attentive and patient with my kids. I am sure all moms can agree, a tired and frazzled mom is not the most patient mom. I am often not careful with my words if I am tired and in pain. I take this into account. So…I make dinner in the afternoon.
Homework is done sitting in my room. One girl on my bed next to me with a lap desk, and one girl in the chair. I need to put my feet up and rest my back and this allows me that while still being helpful with homework.
I have to say no to attending most school events. I pick the most important. I won’t be classroom mom. I can’t go to lunch and play with them at recess. And I certainly cannot volunteer to help at the bake sales and sporting events.
But, I can write notes of encouragement to my kiddos. I can be praying for the teachers and ordering off of amazon supplies needed in the classroom.
These aren’t the noticed or showy things around the school or in a day. These are very quiet and small ways to still make a big impact in the days of our kids.
I don’t know all of the moms. I don’t even recognize all of the teachers (we have a very small school), but I do know the intimate things in the days of my kids. We keep everything pretty honed in and focused on family and home.
The media won’t ever know about the evenings I sat on the front porch to read stories to my kids because I knew we all needed fresh air, but a walk to the park was just too far out of my physical bounds for the day. But my kids will remember it.
There won’t be a love story movie inspired by my husband and I as we sit side by side at 9pm chatting and enjoying each others company (rather than out on dates and taking on the world together). But my husband can feel honored by me saving up my energy to make his favorite lunch and holding his hand through an episode of The Crown. We will have memories laughing at the little things, debating topics on NPR, and nights spent at Mayo Clinic in the infusion center and the dark hallways.
I certainly won’t be in a fashion magazine anytime soon for my abilities to find the perfect outfit that only includes elastic waistbands and soft fabrics.
It’s ok to take a nap and not throw a big birthday party. It is ok to intentionally not schedule anything before 10am knowing that 3:30pm it will take all of your energy to help your first grader learn to read. Say no thank you to the invite for coffee out with a friend (that seems low key and gentle and easy) knowing that keeping up a conversation and even sitting upright may zap anything you have for the next two days.
And it is OK if this is not just a “phase” you need to get through. It is OK if this is the new way that life will be lived. Your perspective will change. The important things will REALLY be the important things.
For me, people are important. Love is important. And a warm and welcoming home is important. Those things won’t win me fame or fortune. I won’t have the “victory” that our Para-Olympians and wounded warriors have. It will be a different kind of legacy left for those around me. The quiet legacy is an important one as well.