wholehearted living

How having an uncooperative body has changed me as a mom, wife, and human

Wishing a warm welcome to Anne McOmber of Simplicity Avenue

Arms full with our toddler, diaper bag, and all the other loose ends from the truck, my husband quickly headed into the house with our kids. They were up the stairs and to the front door before I’d even made it past the sidewalk. I’d rather not be left in the dust to follow from behind, but I couldn’t blame him for hustling inside to unload.

With a crutch in each hand and a leg often dragging behind, I’m not much help these days, which leaves my husband to carry everything. (A statement that couldn’t be more accurate, literally and figuratively.) In fact, getting myself into the house—no piggyback needed—was quite a victory!

I didn’t always rely on crutches (or a walker or a wheelchair). But with a broken connection between my brain and body and the unpredictable disorder it’s caused by, I do now. My steps are slower than they used to be. And my life seems to be following suit.

Out of necessity my to-do list is shrinking. And my list of things I can physically participate in is shrinking even faster.

Yet as much as I wrestle with discouragement from the ups and downs of my limitations, I’m uncovering something freeing. If you’ve ever let go of the rush and surrendered to the moment, maybe you’ve found it too.

It’s there in the sitting, playing and moving from room to room with my little ones, finding excitement within the four walls of our home (because we’ve long since had to let go of play dates, outings, and walks to the park).

It’s there in the afternoon silence as I look out the window from bed, giving my thoughts and dreams all the space they need to wander (and my body the time it needs to rest).

It’s there in my husband’s arms, snuggled in for our weekly date night with a bowl of fresh popcorn and our current Netflix favorite (something we can enjoy together that actually fills me up rather than drains my limited energy reserves).

There in the minutes of savoring is something special and rare. And my frustrating, demanding, gift of a disorder makes it impossible to miss.

Because it’s hard to rush through life when you can’t, well, rush.

While I inch along—step by step, crutch by crutch—instead of feeling left in the dust while life passes me by, I’m starting to realize that the life that’s left when it’s pared down to the essentials is beautiful. Not because it’s glamorous to only have the energy for one outing a week, to be unable to drive, and to need help getting in and out of the shower. But because there’s space to soak in the things that I’ve chosen to hold onto.

If rushing is keeping you from this kind of savoring, maybe it doesn’t have to be.

Before you speed through breakfast to jump into your to-do list, pause. Look around. Savor a new day and a beautiful beginning.

Before you pass by goodness without even a second glance, stop. Wait two breaths more. Witness a moment of kindness, a beautiful sunset, or the feel of fresh air in your lungs.

Before you hustle to the next thing in your schedule, take in your little ones. Let your eyes linger on their busy hands, energetic bodies and squeals of happiness.

Before you rush through one more day, slow your pace and savor the moment. Crutches, optional.


From Anne:

If the call to slow down and make the small moments count is tugging at your heart, I think you’ll enjoy my heart-centered guidebook, This Moment Matters, 10 days of savoring the simple things. You can download your free copy at SimplicityAvenue.com.

17 Comments

  • Reply
    Emily Rigby
    December 14, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    This is inspiring Anne! I am so amazed by your uplifting thoughts even though these trials are very hard. Thanks for spreading your sunshine!

    • Reply
      Anne McOmber
      December 15, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      Thanks Emily for taking the time to read and for sharing your kind words with me! It made my day 🙂

  • Reply
    Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui
    December 14, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Thank you for this. I want to give you a big hug:) I still like to wrestle with “surrender” but have had to learn it in the trenches. My mantra for this school year is “Don’t try so hard; just enjoy yourself” and each morning I wear a ring chosen to remind myself to slow, notice, and enjoy the messy journey. xo

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      December 15, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Thank you, Krista! I feel like you and Anne would have a lot to talk about. 🙂 Thanks for being the inspiration that you are!

    • Reply
      Anne McOmber
      December 15, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Thanks, Krista!:) I love that idea of having some kind of tangible reminder – visible and with me all the time – of what matters most. What a beautiful way to start each morning. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    ron rigby
    December 16, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Anne through your challenges and struggles you continue to look at life through optimistic eyes. You are an eloquent writer and an inspiration to me. I love you & am so proud to be your dad.

  • Reply
    Anne McOmber
    December 18, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Thanks, dad:) for your never-ending support with my writing and for showing me what it looks like to live happy, despite hard times. I’m so grateful!

  • Reply
    How having an uncooperative body has changed me as a mom, wife, and human - Simplicity Avenue
    December 22, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    […] can read my full article over at The Life On Purpose Movement where I recently shared my thoughts on living with an […]

  • Reply
    Heather Legge
    December 30, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    I saved this and have read it over and over. I had a stroke at age 33 and I have a severe chronic medical condition(s) that has left me hospitalized at times, bedbound at times, unable to walk some days…currently I cannot work. I have two daughters and am a single mom. I often wonder how I can best serve them and still take care of myself. I was a planner and living in the future person until all of this. In many ways, these illnesses have been a blessing because of how much they caused me to slow down and cherish the moments.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      January 1, 2018 at 4:50 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear of the significant turn your health has taken, and I so admire your courage and strength in carrying on—and even finding the bright side. I’m sure your comment will mean so much to Anne, who wrote this beautiful piece. Thank you, Heather, and many best wishes in the New Year!

    • Reply
      Anne McOmber
      January 19, 2018 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you SO much for sharing this, Heather. It means everything to me! I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles and my heart goes out to you. I admire you so much and second everything Erica said. It still amazes me how often the biggest blessings come from the most difficult circumstances. And how often the things we fear are going to break us end up uncovering a stronger and better person we never realized was there. Keep going, Heather! I’m cheering for you:)

  • Reply
    Joy
    January 4, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Cancer and the side effects of treatment has left me weak and humbled. Thank you for this beautiful reminder. Just what I need today. Blessings on you and your lovely family.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      January 8, 2018 at 10:58 pm

      Sending love to you and yours, Joy!

    • Reply
      Anne McOmber
      January 19, 2018 at 1:10 pm

      Thank you, Joy. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I hope that despite the challenges, this year will be full of slow, beautiful moments for you!

  • Reply
    Janis
    January 29, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    Anne- Thank you for your lovely words! I suffer from debilitating migraines, sometimes up to 10 days a month. It’s so hard to mother a toddler and a kindergartner when you can’t even take care of yourself. They strike out of the blue, often with very little warning, and holding it all together is so tough sometimes. It’s taught me many things, though, chief among them that I am not superwoman or supermom, and that’s ok. It teaches me to slow down, to take good care of myself to try to stave them off as much as possible, to appreciate the days that I do feel good. It motivates me to keep up with the housework when I feel well so that it doesn’t become too much of a pigsty if I’m out for 2 or 3 days in a row. I keep my pantry and freezer stocked with easy dinner options that my husband can pull together on the days I’m not feeling well. It’s forced me to humble myself and ask for help from family, friends, and neighbors, and left me with a warmed heart when they have helped so graciously. I hate the migraines, and I wish they’d go away, but I also carry a small amount of gratitude in my heart for all that they have taught me. I don’t have to be Superwoman to be a good mom, to be worthy of love, to be happy. Patience is invaluable, and if I wait out the headaches, rest, and take my medicine, life does come around sunny again- it’s a lesson that has strengthened me in many situations that have nothing to do with my headaches. Wishing you good health, and thanking you for your wise and helpful words.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      January 30, 2018 at 9:10 am

      Beautiful, Janis. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I’ll keep you in my prayers for some relief!

    • Reply
      Anne McOmber
      February 15, 2018 at 1:23 pm

      Thank you, Janis, for sharing this. I can tell you’ve worked hard to put things in place to keep your family and home running as smoothly as possible and that you’re facing this huge challenge with so much grace and gratitude. You’re a supermom in my book! 🙂 I truly believe that choosing to see the good in things and being determined to come away from hard times better than before can be one of the greatest gifts we give our children, especially when things like health struggles are such a big part of our lives. Thanks again for sharing. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

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