A few weeks ago when I wrote about boxes and my plan to experiment with the size and shape of my life and work in the new year, I had no idea that my husband would injure his knee playing basketball with the boys a few days after Christmas. I didn’t know that we would come home from an extremely relaxing anniversary trip and find ourselves in the stressfulness of emergency room visits and pharmacy trips and learning to use crutches. I was blissfully ignorant that we would start out 2016 not with brainstorming and goal setting, but with ice packs and referrals to orthopedic surgeons. Back then, I was still relishing the thought of a blank slate and the opportunity for a fresh start.
Of course, over the last few weeks as friends have written blog posts about their New Year’s resolutions and other annual restarts, I’ve been forced to postpone even simple tasks, like “write blog post,” to the next day and then the next. I haven’t had time to think about what this year is going to bring because I just heard the dryer buzz and after that it’s time to dispense pain medication.
See, I have always appreciated how much my husband does around the house and how very involved he is in parenting the boys, but I had never taken the time to add up how much time all that work takes. Now that he’s on crutches and restricted from driving, I’ve added all those duties to my own. And he hates it more than I do.
Some days, I’ve expected to work but just never gotten around to it. Before our new (and thankfully temporary) situation, I would never have imagined how such a thing could happen. Other days, I’ve been amazed how much work can be squeezed in between getting the boys off to school, driving two-hours round trip to a doctor’s appointment, and helping with in-home physical therapy sessions. How would we ever have made it if I had to report to an office every day?
And as the days of the new year fly off the calendar, I try hard not to think about how few words I’ve penned on the new book I’m writing or how this is my first blog post of 2016 — on January 13.
I’ve been called to write a different story right now: it’s a character sketch of what true love looks like, and I’m dedicating it to Steve and the boys. Having come to this marriage and step-mothering gig late in life, I haven’t had too many opportunities to practice all-out survival mode. I haven’t had to get up in the middle of the night, forego showering for a few days, or postpone my own appointments because I am caring for others. I haven’t had to be the strong one and the disciplinarian and the one who takes the garbage out.
If I’ve learned anything over the past couple of weeks, it’s this: True love isn’t just the romantic getaway; it’s also setting the alarm at 3 a.m. to make sure the pain medicine doesn’t run out. It’s saying ‘yes’ to every request for help and then offering to do more. I haven’t done it perfectly, but I can think of no greater honor than to keep trying.
Turns out the size and shape of my life does look a little different. And from where I’m sitting, it seems to fit just fine.