When Superman takes off his cape

There’s something about spending time in a hospital. Maybe it’s the way we lock eyes with strangers in the waiting room, or in the hallway, our mutual presence a silent, white flag salute.

We share the ragged moment, because together we, or the ones we love, have learned a terrifying thing.

Image courtesy of thepaperwall.com

We are no longer invincible. Something has stripped the Superman cape from our shoulders, the one that blinds us to the danger of driving a little too fast, climbing too high, reaching for something too far. Failure creeps onto the scene, and suddenly we are shivering like Adam and Eve in the garden, aware of our naked vulnerability for the first time.

No one owes us our lives. Health is not a given. It is a gift.

***

At the beginning of this week, my husband had a tonsillectomy. As he drove us into the Minneapolis cityscape Monday morning, all I could think of was this: if he really wanted to turn the car around and forget this whole thing, he could.

Let’s be real. A tonsillectomy is one of the most painful surgeries an adult can face. But like so many things in life, sometimes we have to remove X to solve for Y. We have to put ourselves in what seems like the way of harm, so that in the aftermath, we find a better way to be strong.

Even if that means choosing to untie our invincibility cape, and agreeing to become weak.

Monday afternoon, as I was about to enter the hospital wing my husband was on, a set of double doors scissored opened and a bed came wheeling through. It took me a second to understand what was happening. There was a doctor in scrubs sitting next to a little boy with wide, dark eyes. The doctor was leaning back on the pillow, arms crossed behind his head, the little boy snuggled into his side. They were riding together on the rolling bed, both dressed in gauzy, puffy blue caps. I can only assume they were on their way to surgery.

The scene caught my breath. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it must have meant to that little boy to have his doctor climb up into his hospital bed and sit next to him.

Or what it would mean if all of us learned how to sit in solidarity with one another’s weakness.

Not try to fix it, right it, vindicate or validate it.

Just sit together.

Feel what one another is feeling.

Encourage one another, and listen without interrupting and interjecting.

To Be together. To sit at the kitchen table, the hospital room, the patch of grass at the park and really, truly hear one another with our hearts. To know that healing craves security, safety, and rest in the face of uncertainty.

To trust that we can supply a measure of that to one another just by being present.

Looking Good Isn’t the Point

image courtesy of morguefile.com

image use courtesy of morguefile.com

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she notices her favorite pants fitting… well… differently.

For some, that’s the time to walk away from the mirror and focus in on something else, because ain’t no one got time for mirror-mirror-on-the-wall.

For others, it might just be the time to do something. To move. To wake up that body and remind it of its potential. (Or maybe just accept the fact that that woman cannot live in lycra alone.)

I believe we find ourselves in different camps of necessary activity based on where we are in life.

Last year, I had two feet firmly placed in camp Walk Away. My darling two year old and twin seven month olds were not very, hm, how should I say it… independent.

We were in full survival mode – sleeping whenever we could, rummaging into the back of the cupboards because it was so much work to get three tiny humans snow-suited and hauled in and out of the grocery store. Workouts consisted of lifting car seats, squatting to pick up toys, and running after the child whose hands were covered in applesauce. (Please let it be applesauce.)

If that’s you, congratulations. You’re going through what will prove to be one of the most physically challenging periods of your life, all for the love of another human being (or two, or three, or six.) You, Ms. Knight in Shining Armor, need to reserve every last ounce of strength to function.

That’s all. Function. That is what your family needs. That is what you need. That is what your body needs. Just function.

PS- I’m giving you a virtual high-five right now, because you’ve got this. You’ll get through it, and suddenly, your babies will be crawling and walking and talking and bargaining for FIVE M&M’s MOM, just FIVE.

Sigh. And then there’s camp Do Something. This year. This week. Today.

My camp.

But it’s not for the reason you might normally suspect. Sure, I could use a little less padding. Sure, I’d like my pants to stop eating into my midsection.

Honestly, this camp has everything to do with one fact: I need more energy.

And that’s not just a mama thing. That’s life. That’s Newton’s law of motion. Objects at rest stay at rest. Objects in motion stay in motion until acted on by another force.

I do best when I’m in motion – spiritually, creatively, and physically. So when I found out there was new local gym offering childcare, I shrieked. I called my mom. I begged my husband.

And the first night that I beeped my key card and walked in the door, I felt a little like I was coming home to a place I’d been away from for a very, very long time.

Never mind that after two days, I felt I’d been sacked by a wild rhino. Or that after a week, I was downing the Tylenol immediately post-workout. I figured what I really needed to do was schedule an appointment with the personal trainer and get a few ideas on how to build back up to where I wanted to be.

And then, the words I didn’t want to hear landed squarely on my shoulders.

You’ve got some strengthening to do. In your legs. Your core. Your back.

So basically, everywhere.

I don’t know why that surprised me. I know that my core is shot after having twins. I have mild diastasis recti, a wobbly knee full of torn cartilage from a previous injury, and chronic back pain on my right side. I haven’t been to a gym or taught fitness classes for over two years.

But still. Part of me was crushed.

And the other part wanted to go home and make homemade mac and cheese for supper. You know. The kind with cream. And four different kinds of cheese. And butter.

Sigh.

But I won’t. I won’t because health is what keeps me moving. Fitness is a pair of arms that can lift a child, or knees that can easily bend to read stories on the floor. In short, seeing my pants fit differently is only a byproduct of the real reason I want to get back into good physical condition.

Strength matters.

looking good Repeat after me. It’s not about looking good. My best friend and I were laughing about that last week. No matter how hard we try, we’re never going to be our college selves walking around lake Calhoun every day and subsisting on apples and leftover Chipotle. And you know what? That’s OK. (That’s really more than OK.)

The people we are now have grace with our shortcomings. But we also know that when we put the work in, we’ll FEEL better. And feeling better, not looking better, is TRULY, HONESTLY what matters most.