It broke with a small pop. At least, it felt broken. I was bending over a low changing table at work. One of my favorite fifth graders was on the table. I always work with a partner when changing a student and this was no different. We had gotten him from his wheelchair to the table with no problem at all. He has limited mobility do we have to be careful that he doesn’t drop down and hurt himself. I was adjusting him so that he wasn’t so close to the edge of the changing table. Pop. Just like that, my back went out. I slipped a disc in my spine.
This one tiny, mundane incident has changed my quality of life completely. I spent the next several weeks with worker’comp. paperwork and doctors and a physical therapist. My back was shot, my hip muscles were spasiming and I had pain radiating down my right leg. My only thought was, “I can’t be injured! I have kids! Traumatized kids! They don’t react well to compromised parents!”
I was wrong. Amazingly, the littles chickens handled this well. Carl has been working in therapy to empathize with others rather than simply control or dominate them. It’s having a wonderful effect on his ability to interact with people. He comes home with activities about animals such as how to care for them, how to help them, and how they might feel. He LOVES animals. Then his therapist relates those same skills back to family members. They draw animal families and write little stories about animals. It’s been nothing short of amazing. I would add that Carl is trying, really trying. He’s working so hard!
The other element that’s helpful is that I am essentially held captive in my own body. I can’t drive. I can’t walk long distances. Heck, I can’t even sleep all that well. But I am home. I am not rushing to work in the mornings. I wake the Littles up with hugs and kisses. I help them pack their snacks. They can clearly see that I will be right where they left me when they come home. I think on some subconscious level, they are soothed by the fact that I literally cannot leave them. Mom isn’t going anywhere any time soon!
So here I am, awkwardly askew on the couch in the only semi-comfortable position I can get into. Carl brings me water. He brings me coffee. He holds out his arm to help me up. He will typically help with small things if told to do so. It’s sweet, but this isn’t the moment. The moment I’m not expecting comes right after I struggle into a standing position. In this moment he puts one hand on my lower back and gently rubs it in circles.
“Is that better, mommy?” He asks.
“That’s wonderful, Carl. Just wonderful.” I reply.
**Editing Note–As soon as I finished writing this, Carl fractured his foot. Our family is now officially limping along!
**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.
*if you’ve ever thought about foster or adoptive care, I encourage you to get started on your adventure!