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By Heather Holtschlag

A couple of weeks ago, while taking a seemingly innocent walk to the park with my two sons, ages 6 and 4, I slipped on a patch of wet grass. My left leg went under me, and my life changed, as least for the immediate future, in that brief second.

X-rays and a visit to the orthopaedic surgeon would reveal a broken fibula and a separation between my ankle and foot bones. It was an injury that would require surgery followed by six weeks of recovery. Those were not the words I, or any other mother, I’m guessing, wanted to hear.  Sitting in the doctor’s office, looking at the X-rays and listening to the doctor educate me on the bones that make up the leg and ankle and the consequences of this injury if it were not treated quickly was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had in my life, let alone motherhood.

The bright side is that while held  hostage by the couch for the immediate days following surgery, I learned some positive and impactful lessons about my life, that of my kids and of motherhood in general. Here are 5 lessons on motherhood that I picked up from my couch!

1. You Don’t Need An Extravagant Spa To Find Peace And Quiet.

My surgery took place on a Friday. My mom took the boys that night for a sleepover at Grammie’s, and my husband had to work on Saturday morning. When I woke up that Saturday, there was not a soul in sight. Listen. Do you hear that?  Nothing. Nada. Totally quiet, minus the sound of the mail truck driving down the street.

Not in six years have I awoken to the sound of nothing. And while I missed our family time, I treasured the peacefulness of the space that was all mine. I seized the opportunity to just do nothing – no cleaning, no dishes, no laundry – and rest.

2. Life Goes On.

Immediately after I fell and injured my leg, my 6-year-old ran to my side to ask if I was okay. I was honest and said, “Mommy hurt her leg, and I need to call Daddy to come get me to take me to the emergency room.” To which he replied, “Ok, I’ll be playing on the monkey bars.”

At first, I was dismayed that he wouldn’t sit and look over his mother, making sure she was okay. But then I realized that life doesn’t stop for the injured. There are too many things to do, people to see and monkey bars to climb. And it’s not like I was going to stand up and begin running a marathon. All I could do was sit in the grass, waiting for my husband. But while sitting there, I watched my kids play, climb, jump, slide and play catch. They laughed and had fun playing. Life goes on…the way it should.

3. Sometimes You Need A Break.

I try to maintain an active lifestyle. Not only are the boys and I constantly on the lookout for new activities and adventures, I make it a daily routine of getting to the gym first thing in the morning and doing a good workout.  All of this combined makes for busy days and nights full of exhaustion. We get a good night’s sleep only to wake up and start all over again.

What I have discovered from this recent mishap is that our bodies need breaks.  Without quality breaks from the rigors of daily life, we begin to break down, and things like broken bones happen. Avoid these pitfalls, and do as your body asks.

4. Screen Time Is Not All Bad.

On a normal, good day, my sons watch about one hour of television and for good behavior, they are rewarded with 30 minutes of iPad time before bed. During the past recent weeks, while Mommy was resting her leg and becoming increasingly frustrated with not being able to take part in our normal sought-out adventures, they have access to an increase in the amount of screen time. And I don’t feel guilty about that.

There are certain situations that require them to be entertained by someone other than myself or my husband. And if the television is the only thing around that can hold their attention while I rest my leg, so be it. Listen, we go out nearly everyday of the week, we participate in team sports and group playdates. So allowing them to spend some extra time in front of a screen is not going to hinder their growth or impede their progress in school. It’s time we cut the mommy guilt about screen time and do what we need to do to get through the day.

5. Emotions are hard to hold captive.

My frustration level right about now is through the roof. My stress about how I’m going to keep up with my daily cleaning schedule, manage the laundry and keep up with my freelance work is at a point I’ve never before experienced. And sometimes I yell and scream over issues that really shouldn’t be issues. Like where is the library book. Or who left their milk sitting out. I would like to throw my crutches out the window and secretly place my cast in the garbage can for garbage pickup. I can’t around very well or very fast, and I am growing increasingly impatient. These emotions are extremely hard to keep to myself. So when I have an accidental outburst about spilled milk, I apologize. I hug and kiss my boys and let them know that nothing is their fault and give them insider’s information on how frustrating life can be on crutches.

Do you want to know the most amazing lesson I have learned from all of this? It’s that the love of children is unconditional. They may not always like “mean Mommy” or understand my current emotional outpour, but no matter what, they always are right there with me. “It’s okay, Mommy. I understand. I love you.”  Best. Words. Ever.


About the Author:

Heather Holtschlag is a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer and PR specialist helping health and wellness businesses enjoy the outcomes of positive publicity. She can be reached by phone at 412-378-6056 or email at holtschlag@verizon.net. Visit  her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @hholtschlag.

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