A few days ago I had a near death experience.
Ok, maybe it wasn’t literally a near death experience, but it made the list of terrifying moments, at least for this week.
Before we walk down the stairs, the boys and I have a series of things we say in order to promote safety. (Stairs are basically a death trap for toddlers and babies…and apparently mommies). We’ve adapted our verbiage as time has gone on but it’s usually something like this. “Hold tight to the side. Be really careful. Gotta watch out.” If we aren’t wearing shoes and are going down the wooden stairs, we add, “Be careful with your slippery feet!” and we walk very slow.
The other day, I had “slippery feet” because I only had on socks and Connor warned me, “Mommy, you have slippery feet. Gotta be careful.” I said, “That’s right buddy. I’m gonna hold tight to the side and be careful.”
He and Ethan walked ahead of me as I carried Luke down on my hip. I held tight to the side and was careful, but I’ve learned in life that sometimes, even when we’re careful, caution fails us and we fall.
Luckily I’d made it almost the whole way and only fell down about 4 stairs, but those were the scariest 4 stairs I’ve ever experienced in my life.
I was carrying precious cargo!
As I fell I tucked Luke into me the best I could to protect him from the blow. I landed on my butt and my elbow. Luke instantly wailed and I was worried he’d gotten hurt too. After careful inspection he was fine; just scared by our deadly descent.
The twins were scared too and both of them cried as they rushed over to me saying, “Mom, you fell!? You ok!??” The look of horror in their eyes at the scene they’d just witnessed was equal parts adorable and sad.
It took me several minutes to stand back up because of how hard the fall was. I managed not to cry because I wanted to assure the boys mommy was ok. But it took a lot to choke back those tears.
I was amazed at the compassion and empathy the boys showed me (although this isn’t rare for them) and it was a moment I realized that in the world of motherhood, I’m doing something right. They were so attentive and compassionate, offering me hugs, kisses and even their blankets for comfort. Amazing! They kept saying things like, “Mommy, you ok? You fell!! That was scary! But you’re ok. I got you. Here’s my B. I’ll give you a kiss. Mom you’re ok!”
Be still my beating heart. These boys are so precious and sweet sometimes. They patched me up with lots of love and affection, and we carried on with our day.
Immediately following the fall, I was sure I’d chipped my elbow. The pain was immense and even trying to straighten my arm seemed like a bad idea. My arm felt weak and I got nauseous. But I was holding my baby with two more waiting in line.
I’m a mom. There’s no room for a weak or broken elbow.
Much to my surprise, after about 20 minutes, the pain faded and I honestly forgot all about it as the day went on. I thought, “Wow, a fall like that and no bruises or anything!? Awesome!”
The next day I woke up and felt sore on my left butt cheek. Confused, I racked my brain and tried to discover where this pain came from. I looked in the mirror and discovered the beginnings of a rather large bruise. I thought maybe I injured it working out too hard but that didn’t add up either.
Finally, it hit me.
I knew it was too good to be true to walk away from that unscathed.
In that moment, as my brain often does, I realized this was a lot like life. So many times I have fallen. Hard. I choke back the tears, pretend I’m ok, and I even am ok for a while. But inevitably, the pain from the fall catches up to me and I have no choice but to feel it.
Many times our injuries remain invisible. We feel them, but we can’t see them. Sometimes, when our wounds abide below the surface, we carry on with life as if nothing happened. We act like we don’t have an enormous bruise on our butt from the embarrassing plunge we just took. But most of the time, evidence of our pain shows up somewhere.
It looks different for everyone; but somewhere, somehow, the bruise appears. It has to.
I’m coming to appreciate the scars and bruises and falls. I believe they are evidence of a life. An imperfect, flawed life. A continued effort. A refusal to quit. A desire to heal. A valiant attempt to keep living, no matter how painful it may be at times.
Bruises hurt. Scars are ugly. But while they are evidence of pain, they are also evidence of healing. Survival. Redemption. Life.
I’m covered in bruises. Many of them, like this monstrosity on my tail end, are fresh. The pain still pulsates when I move or sit. The proof of this blow hasn’t even fully been fleshed out as the wound is much deeper than what meets the eye. Nonetheless, I am encouraged. I know that a bruise simply means my body is healing. And there’s a lot to learn at the bottom.
This graceless fall down the stairs reminded me that I am alive. I’m a survivor of many things and though I fall continuously and remain covered in bruises, I continue on. Because I have no other option.
Some falls are no big deal. They may be embarrassing but we shake it off and carry on. Other falls knock the wind out of us, cause wounds, and require time for healing. Some falls may even seem like the end…a near death experience, as it were. Whatever kind of fall it is, as long as we continue breathing, we can get back up. We can feel the pain, acknowledge its presence, learn from it, and then keep living.
Those same little boys who sweetly cared for me after I fell and nurtured me back to my feet are the very thing that keep me fighting and holding on many days. They have to see me fall, and then they have to see me get up and keep going; even if it takes a little longer than expected. As a mom, or any human, there simply is no other choice. And I am so grateful for that.
I’m also grateful that we don’t have to be fully healed before we can show up. We get to live. Busted, bruised, and scarred. We don’t have to be flawless. All we have to do is show up.
Sometimes it takes a good fall to really know where you stand. Hayley Williams
Here’s the thing. Today, my butt hurts. But around here, we take a lickin,’ and we keep on tickin.’