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Living One-Handed

I once wrote a piece called “Living One–Handed”about feeling like everything is twice as difficult when you have a baby to haul around. My kids are big now and I couldn’t haul them around even if I wanted to. In fact, my 13-year-old has just passed me in height—his shoe size passed mine over a year ago.

So I knew I really didn’t have an excuse anymore, and I finally set up the inevitable: surgery for my long time carpal tunnel syndrome.

It’s great to have someone to blame for the misfortune in our lives: I can blame my kids for this one! Each time I was pregnant, I blew up like a balloon and my hands started to buzz. The first time, I was alarmed but found out that this is common and usually disappears along with the extra pounds. The second time, it didn’t go away (and neither, come to think of it, did some of the pounds!).

I kept saying that when things got less complicated I would get the problem fixed, but somehow, things never seemed less complicated. The years of living one-handed were short in retrospect, but the years when I felt like I just couldn’t keep up, like everything I wanted to do kept piling up ahead of me and I had to push harder and harder to keep going—those years made surgery seem impossible.

There is that old saying, if you want to get something done, get a busy person to do it. That is definitely true—I am way too busy, but when I take things on I get them done. And it seems like the busier I am, the more I am tempted to take things on. This year has been a very busy one for me: I wrote a book about gifted homeschooling and my favorite press, Great Potential Press, agreed to publish it. I have also been writing children’s fiction, found an agent, and helped start an educational nonprofit.  My son had his bar mitzvah. All that on top of my usual crazy life of homeschooling two kids, writing, blogging, and singing.

So any rational person would look at this year in my life and say, this is not the year put yourself out of commission for a few months. I, however, am apparently not rational! So in June I finally got around to getting surgery. The surgery itself took 15 minutes. The healing, physical therapy, and everything else will take a few months. (So far, the results seem great, though of course, I haven’t gotten to anywhere near my usual level of activity.)

I have been feeling to a certain extent what it felt like to have a small baby. People were opening doors for me, carrying things for me, and inquiring after my general health and comfort. That’s sort of fun, for a while, but also frustrating when you are one of those people to whom other people give things that need to get done. I sat and watched people do things and read a few good books. Now, I am getting back to doing things on my own, which is a relief.

I am glad that my one-handedness was the result of surgery and not another baby, frankly. Although I love babies and have enjoyed reflecting on that time of my life again, I am ready to move on to where my big kids are taking me. It was great to see my big helpers rise to the occasion, helping me cook dinner, doing many more household chores than they would have, and offering assistance when I needed it.

I have noticed that many changes in family life seem to happen overnight. One day you have a baby, and the next day you realize that baby is walking away from you. One day you look into your little kid’s face and you see the face of a big kid looking back at you. For nine years I couldn’t consider surgery because my kids, especially the younger one, needed me so much. But this really was the right timing. Although it was crazy to be answering my editor’s questions one-handed or with voice-recognition software, the important thing was to see my kids step up and do what needed to be done.

It seems so sudden that I’ve gone from feeling short one hand to knowing that when I need them, I have four extra hands at my disposal. It has been gratifying to step back, rest my healing arm on the sofa, and watch my kids doing what I always hoped they were capable of.

Posted in Parenting.


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