Summer is upon us — or “construction season” to many South Dakotans. Miles and miles of one-lane traffic going 30 under the speed limit, inconveniently delaying the summer fun that awaits.
While we’ve come to expect these detours, and dare I say, plan for them, this year may prove to have more than the average number of orange traffic cones.
Global pandemics and national protests have a way of making us parents think on our feet when it comes to summer activities and outdoor adventures. So, feeling up for a challenge, I decided to up the ante and have knee surgery, rendering me to crutches… with a toddler… during the nicest week of the year.
It’s fine. I’m fine.
But really, the surgery went well and while my recovery should be a quick and (hopefully) painless one, trying to explain that to Sloan has proven to be a feat all in it’s own.
Imagine walking on stilts, blindfolded, into a crowd of puppies that have just heard the word “park”.
That’s what it’s like being on crutches with a two-year-old.
Triple A is not just for car trouble. Remember to:
Not only does she not understand why she can’t use them or why I can’t pick her up, she also doesn’t get that suplexing mama is not an option right now.
Other things that aren’t options? Going on walks, running around the backyard, and literally anything that involves me getting on the ground.
I was left with two options: make my incredibly active and headstrong daughter sit on the couch and watch old disney movies all day, or re-enroll her in daycare (having taken her out when COVID-19 started).
Neither option seemed like the right one, leaving me feeling guilty and full of self pity, both of which look terrible on me.
This unexpected detour led me to put aside the fact that I wanted to cuddle Sloan all day and made me realize that giving her the opportunity to be around other kids her age, play with new-to-her toys, and engage in crafts and learning that I had yet to find on Pinterest was the only option I had.
Trading our planned trip to the zoo for a week of binge-watching Netflix in a cocoon of ice packs and Cheez-Its was less than ideal. With that being said, it gave me the opportunity to appreciate the alternate routes we are forced to take.
What I want to be doing and what I have the ability to be doing are two different things, and while that is frustrating and discouraging, it is what it is.
For Sloan it has been nothing more than a chance to see her friends and have new experiences, and I think understanding that has allowed me to be okay with this sudden change in plans.
What I’ve Learned
+ When you are used to being with your children all day long, it can hard on both of you to spend time apart. Make the transition easier on both of you by reminding them how much fun daycare can be.
+ Quiet time is nice, but can also be deafening. When the stillness gets to be too much, go on a walk, FaceTime a friend, or even listen to a podcast.
+ Do not, I repeat DO NOT feel like taking time to heal, whether it be physically or mentally, is equivalent to being lazy. Healing is caring and caring is what we want to teach our children to be.
As unsettling as the unknown is, looking at it through a child’s eyes is beyond comforting, and quite honestly, enlightening.
Not only do they devote all of their time and energy to the present, but they do so with such uninhibited fascination that it is seemingly impossible to not feel captivated with what is in front of you.
Yes, I am missing my girl on these hot summer days. And listening to kids on their way to the park sends me into a tailspin of mom guilt and longing.
But I know that as soon as Reid picks her up from daycare, we can go to the park (crutches in tow). And walking trails, zoos, and our backyard will be there this weekend, or next week, or even next month.
For now, I have been given this extra time to work on school, myself, and to plan the best summer I can.
Do you know how amazing it is to read a book with no banging pots or cartoon theme songs in the background?
It’s magical. And even though I love Sloan’s kitchen concerts and have come to think of Spirit the horse as my own, I am enjoying this time, as unexpected as it may be.
Whether it be miles and miles of one-lane construction, or weeks of bedrest and crutches, take the detours for what they are: extra time to slow down and welcome the moments that we are in instead of longing for where we want to be.