Economy of Movement

One day. ONE DAY after writing on this very blog that I’m good at avoiding injuries, I dislocated my knee. In the middle of a day care day. When I told Natalie what happened she replied, “You said it!? You never say anything like that!!” I guess I tempted fate.

Would it work if I said, “I’m good at not having a million dollars fall into my lap”?

My friend Karen said I lived out one of her worst fears – being seriously hurt while with a bunch of toddlers. And I lived out one of my own worst fears, which is dislocating my knee. It’s happened before and is probably the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life.

In fact, the first time it happened I was two weeks away from giving birth to Younger Son. During my labor I would get a contraction and compare the pain. I would tell Dave, “Nope, this isn’t as bad as the knee…not as bad yet…well close, but still the knee was worse!” He would say, “Yes dear, your knee hurt, just focus on having a baby please.”

Luckily it happened on a Friday so I had a few days to recover, and my family was SO good to me all weekend. I think it’s the most time I’ve spent on the couch since the pre-children, watching sports or movies for hours on end days. The boys played quietly, didn’t ask me for something every ten minutes, and I even heard the most beautiful phrase ever to come out of Older’s lips: “What can I do to help?”

Ahhh, I love my boys.

But now I’m back at work and it’s exhausting. Even with a lot of sitting, and encouraging the kids to sit, and playing with dolls and doing puzzles and reading books, I’m still a DAY CARE PROVIDER. It requires a LOT of moving.

So: economy of movement. It’s a principle that people will move in the easiest way without really thinking about it. For instance, they use it to design malls for maximum customer browsing (and you don’t even know you’re being herded…).

But I am thinking about it. I am studying every move I make, trying to minimize everything I do. I don’t go up or down stairs until ALL of my business is finished in the present location. I don’t even go into another room until I’ve composed a mental list of everything I need to bring there, and do once I get there, and bring back with me. No more wandering into a room and thinking, “Why did I come in here?” for me. At least for the time being.

If I have to bend over to pick something up, I’m bending clean at the waist. So I stay there for a while and grab everything within my reach before straightening up. Or I kick or sweep it all into one big pile before I bend. Michelle said I’m going to kill my back this way, but luckily I’m pretty flexible (and they told me dancing was bad for me as a youngin! Well I can still touch my toes no problem, folks).

Oh! And I did my first-ever diaper change from a standing position! I should be in a freakshow.

I’m using a wide variety of things in ways that they’re not meant to be used. I’ve learned that a dollhouse makes an excellent foot stool. I spilled soup at lunch and a pair of Younger’s dirty pants had to suffice. If I can’t reach something I just use a light saber to drag it closer (you have no idea how handy a light saber can be!).

I didn’t realize how much the kids are usually crawling all over me too. I’ve spent a lot of time defending my leg, and not even from crushing hugs and being jumped on (my greatest fears as my future was flashing before my eyes, post-knee-reduction). It’s just simple things – a child is walking past and grabs my leg for balance. Trying to get out the door without being bumped into (VERY challenging). Or the way that they nudge closer and closer to being in your lap when you sit down.

I used to love that so much – now it strikes fear into my heart.

I hate pushing them away but it’s instinctual at this point. I’m protecting that vulnerable spot and the kids are going to have to adjust until I’m better. So far, so good, but growth is painful. I’m still being hounded for help with this, get me that, “I need…I want…” and I have to tell myself that child is going to live without, and they’re going to survive. And if they want it bad enough they can go get it.

It will be interesting to see if this becomes an unintentional study of how independent my kids can really be. I’ve talked before about regression: let’s see what happens when they’re put to the test. I tend to be the type of person who jumps up and helps rather than sitting back and waiting for a child to figure it out. I stare in wonder at providers who very calmly rebuff advance after advance: “You can pull your own pants up.” “I told you we’re not playing with that toy right now.” “Who left blocks all over the floor? Put them away please!” My children are going to have to learn some patience and responsibility, like it or not.

I think I’m afraid.

I also have so much sympathy for people who live with chronic pain after four nights of not sleeping. The first time around I had a newborn waking me up so it didn’t seem so disruptive – I expected to be up every hour anyway. But losing this much sleep now is jarring. On top of having to be focused and professional and sweet in the morning and all day long (while in pain. Don’t forget the pain).

Sigh. To all the providers out there – I am amazed at how damn hard we work. I salute us for being able to do everything we do in one day!! And please send me some good healing caregiver vibes, because I ache.

5 thoughts on “Economy of Movement

  1. Oh… my… goodness. I read this knee dislocation story with a grimace on my face. And then, of course, had several laughs over the light saber and the freakshow comment! OY!

  2. I like the concept of economy of movement. The older I get the more conscious I am of learning to take good care of how I move. Years ago I had a severe episode of housemaids knee caused by building a chidren’s railway set on a hard wooden floor. I ended up in casualty, and they said I needed three weeks’ rest. I explained I had three kids, one of whom was 6 weeks old, and rest wasn’t possible! Lucky I didn’t suffer permanent damage, though I never set up the railway again!

  3. Pingback: The economy of movement « The Veg Table

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