Today is the one week anniversary of breaking my toe. By all standards, breaking a toe isn't a big deal, and a one week anniversary would be ridiculous. But we don't do things by regular standards in this family, choosing instead to have crises in a big way, generally in groups, so instead of merely remembering, "Hmm, I think I broke my toe this time last week," I am lying in bed staring at my foot. If looks could kill, it would be dead.
I'm trying to find a gentle way to break the news to myself, to protect my sanity, but I keep fluctuating between denial and the depths of pessimism. I was told yesterday that I cannot walk--I cannot drive--for four weeks. Let me tell you what that looks like in my house: if I want to take my bottle of water from one room to the other, I can choose to hold it in one hand and hop, hoping I don't slip on a melted ice cube by the fridge or a Lincoln Log stranded in the kitchen, or I can try to grip it in my pinky finger while slowly crutching through the house. The first option only works for a while, as the heel of my good foot is slowly being bruised beyond what I can bear to walk on, and the second option only works with objects that I can hook around my finger. Unfortunately, most don't.
Now magnify that times a million: I cannot pick up my baby and carry her from one room to the next, and when it's time to change a diaper, that's bad news for me. She's fast; I'm slow. I cannot lug the laundry basket from the closet to the laundry room. I can't vacuum, sweep, or mop. Even getting up from the floor to a standing position is near impossible, because I literally can't put an ounce of weight on my broken foot because of the position of the wire protruding from it. And because of that wire, I'm not allowed to take a shower, and getting into the bathtub requires help. Talk about humbling. Errands? Forget them. No grocery shopping, runs to the library, or even the occasional trip to Sonic for a treat to break up a long afternoon. I can't go to church, or the post office, or do anything on my regular Monday afternoons when our sitter comes. I'm a mom! This is not a good time in my life to be temporarily crippled! You can see why I'm having a hard time keeping my chin up. What once was just a toe has now turned into a Big Deal.
For the last couple of days, I've had plenty of time to ponder things, since Chris was home to run the house and keep the kids alive. Just yesterday I was thinking about our positions in life and in ministry, and how vital each one of us is. Ask most career-driven, high-powered women, and they'll say my life is drudgery. They might say I'm aiming too low, living like a martyr, or am wasting my good years. On the other hand, some women who desperately want to be at home will raise me to sainthood, elevating my status as wife and mother to the heavenlies.
The reality is that what I do is important. It's hard work, with very few tangible rewards, and even the intangible ones are sometimes hard to see. It's common work, requiring no advanced degrees or experience or skill. Anyone can do it, although whether most do it well can be debated. But take me out of the picture, and my family crumbles. I am needed to support, to complete, to encourage, to clean up after, to comfort, to train, to manage. When I'm not at my best, nothing else in our family goes very smoothly. My husband had been gone only a few hours today when I looked around and realized we were deconstructing quickly. The kids were dirtier than dirt, toys had relocated to all the wrong places, dishes needed to be done, and laundry was overflowing. I may not do brain surgery, but I am vital to the health of this family. A lot like a little toe. Crack it, and life grinds to a halt.
The Bible says that we are each like a part of a body, and that though some of us are more highly esteemed than others, we are all vital. We are all necessary, and when one of us is missing, the rest of us suffer. I may be tempted to look at some ministry wives and think of the traveling they do, the books they're writing, and the honor given to them, and wonder what I'm worth, surrounded by stomach viruses and Tonka trucks and potty training. But ask my kids, and they'll tell you I'm the most important woman in the world. Ask the Lord, and He'll tell you I'm exactly where He has placed me, and who can argue with that?
I have to be honest--I am fighting with every ounce against my four week sentence. It grates my every nerve to see a mess across the room and be unable to clean it. It frustrates me to realize my library books are overdue, that we don't have milk, and that I needed to go the bank a week ago, and not be able to strap on the seatbelt and efficiently take care of it all. A loss of freedom, no matter how small or temporary, is still frustrating. But when I look at it outside the temporary, I realize that God can do big things during these four weeks. Even if I only come out of this with a new appreciation for the place He has given me, that's enough. I have a feeling, though, that He's also instilling a new appreciation for my role in my husband and children, as well as teaching us how to work as a true team, serving each other with gladness. Or at least without gritting our teeth. I know there's much to be gleaned from my forced confinement, such as contentment, not complaining, taking care of myself, and sharing responsibility. So as much as I dread the coming days, I am thankful there's at least something that can be gained.
But if He wants to teach me all these things in less time, that's okay, too.