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How To (Literally) Balance It All: Being A Mom On Crutches

by Lisa Sugarman
Lisa writes the nationally syndicated column "It Is What It Is" and is the author of Untying Parent Anxiety.

It’s amazing the kind of perspective you get from immobility.

We’re all so used to moving at 120 miles per hour that we never really give much consideration to how we’d manage the day to day if we suddenly couldn’t get around. And when you factor a job, a family, and maybe a couple of pets into the mix, you’ve got yourself one giant pickle.

Trust me, spend a little time not being able to get around the way you’re used to and all of a sudden everything changes. And whoa, does it change.

Not too long ago I ended up in a boot cast, on crutches, and with one disproportionately large “good” quad—an experience you really can’t appreciate unless you’ve spent any real time in a Reebok Pump-style cast with crutches on the side.

So, in the interest of giving you a really good sense of what this really implies, let’s play a little visualization game…

Get into your imaginary boot cast, grab your make-believe crutches, and let’s try a simple exercise in putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Let’s drive to the market to buy some flowers. And remember, always keep your fractured ankle off the ground whenever you’re standing or your kids will rat on you like Judas giving up Jesus.

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First, take off your cast to get in your car, then stow your crutches, now slip into your other shoe (oops, forgot the shoe, have to go back in the house). Ok, shoe’s on. Drive to the market, put your cast back on, hop to the trunk to get your crutches, throw on your backpack and get to the flower case. Now, put the bouquet between your teeth, back out of the freezer and get in line. Pay, then beg someone to carry your now-crushed-flowers out to your car, and repeat the whole cast on and off process.

This is only errand number one. And this paired-down version of my day is only about a half of the stops I usually make. But the length of my day is still the same. It takes me the same amount of time to get half as much done. And this is all without my leg ever touching the ground (at least in theory).

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Forget about doing a full food shop. Not happening. Already tried and it was laughable. No dog-walking. No umbrella holding. Definitely no getting the milk out of the fridge and over to the counter (calcium is grossly over-rated anyway).

I’m not even going to broach the whole stair subject. Let’s just say this, if you can only use one leg and you have to hold your crutches, then climbing stairs becomes a conundrum. It’s just impossible to figure it out.

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Growing up, two of my cousins used walkers or crutches and I never fully got it until I was restricted myself. For them, it was every day. So my teeny, tiny, little glimpse into a world with real limitations was pretty sobering.

Being immobile for awhile helped me see how much we take the everyday, simple things for granted. I just wish it didn’t take traumatic events to change our perspectives so much.

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I wish there was a way we could all maintain a sense of appreciation on the off days, when things aren’t upside down and difficult, but I guess that’s human nature.

I’m sure your average day looks an awful lot like mine. Getting into and out of the car at least 25 times. School drop off, home, work, grocery store, Starbucks, the ATM, the cleaner, back to the food store (forgot bread), the gas station, pharmacy, school pick up, back home, soccer practice number one, home again (forgot shin guards), soccer practice number two, take-out for dinner, home. Sounding familiar?

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For most of us, our schedules are a force of habit and we completely take for granted that we can get to and from all these places. Until one day when something happens and we can’t.

But, since I’m a big believer in mixing things up every once in awhile for perspective’s sake, I’m trying to look at this in a positive way.

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That positive side is that you end up looking at anyone who doesn’t have it as easy as you in a completely different way. And we need that. We all need that. Because most people have limitations. Some are visible, some aren’t.

Once we’re forced to stop, everything changes. Once we’re forced to give up the things we take for granted, we start seeing things differently. And the more time I spend in this nasty plastic cast, the more I realize that even the most inconvenient things serve a purpose.

Anything that forces us to change our vantage point is worthwhile because it has the ability to change our point of view. And we all need that every once in a while.

Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at lisasugarman.comOr, find them on LittleThings.comHot Moms ClubBeingAMom.lifeGrownandFlown.comMamalode, More Content Now, and Care.com. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is and Untying Parent Anxiety: 18 Myths That Have You in Knots—And How to Get Free available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and at select bookstores.