The Surgery, Part One

I mentioned I'm recovering from a pretty major hip surgery. I've debated whether to share the details here, but I have decided I will. I will document my progress as an encouraging reminder to myself that I'm healing. Also, as I prepared myself for this surgery, I didn't find a lot of information about specifically what to expect. There were medical sites, and then there were message boards, full of horror stories such as, "I WAS ON CRUTCHES FOR FIVE YEARS" and "I WILL NEVER FEEL MY TOES AGAIN".

Message boards are of the devil. Run, run away.

But only the scary stuff gets written about, it seems. I know there are numerous success stories, and Lord willing, I plan to be one of them. So I document this here, with a big shout-out to any other hippy chicks who are thus afflicted.

The Condition

I have Femoroacetabular Impingement. I have no idea how to pronouce that. Inside my head, I call it "Femo-bluh-bluh-lar Impingement". Thankfully, it also goes by the abbreviation "FAI".

Here is a great medical description of the condition.

Here is a mediocre non-medical description: The top of my hip joint (the "ball" portion) has a bony bump ("cam impingement") that has been shredding the hoo-ha out of my labrum (the tissue in the hip socket).

I would like to point out the sentence on this website that says "FAI is common in high level athletes," so that anyone who knows me in real life can get a good belly laugh. Yes, it is Olympic gymnasts, professional baseball players, and me. (Not really. It's common for active people to have a labral tear, and not everyone will be symptomatic. The cam impingement isn't quite as common, and I was probably born with it. That bony little outcropping has gradually caused some pain over the last few years.)

The Injury

So with my congenital impingement, the stage was set for some trouble. (Side note: I am always very uncomfortable with the word "congenital". Every time I use it I look it up in the dictionary first. I feel like I might be saying something my grandmother might not want me to say.)

Then, about two years ago, I discovered the Zumba.

Ah, Zumba. At the mention of the word, I feel a little step-step-cha-cha-cha comin' on. I LOVED THE ZUMBA. I shimmied in with both feet and I Zumba'd at every class I could find. I Zumba'd at my house on the off days. I Zumba'd in the kitchen while I cooked dinner, promting the ten-year-old to cha-cha with me and the teenagers to avert their eyes. ("Mom is twerking again!" they'd shout. Let me be clear: There was never, ever any twerking.)

I even got certified to teach Zumba. ("I AM VERY UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THIS," said the 17-year-old.) It was about this time that the dull ache that plagued my hips for years turned into something sharper. It had been a deep ache that often radiated down my thigh and wrapped around the sides of my hips. This new pain was becoming sharper and was moving into my groin. About 75% of the time, each step I took created a painful, grinding sensation.

Shakira, with whom I naturally have so much in common because of all the Zumba, says that hips don't lie.

Oh no, they do not. It was sadly time to hang up the cha-cha shoes and find out what the problem was.

And thus, I leave you with a compelling cliffhanger in which I have quoted Shakira. Part two will include an elevated geriatric toilet seat, but you will just have to wait…


Nothing Doing

See this view?

It's mine.

I had major hip surgery 11 days ago (more on that later), and this particular surgery has a long and complicated recovery. LONG. Did I mention it is lengthy?

I can bear zero weight on my operative leg (the right one) for a total of six weeks, so here I sit. Actually, I can only sit in short spurts too. So here I lie. Or lay. Whatever–I couldn't figure out "lie/lay" even before pain meds.

(And let us pause for a moment to acknowledge that if you zoom in on that picture, you will see the name of the socks are "Bair Paws". Seriously. They gave me misspelled socks in the hospital's pre-op room. I took one look at them and started to gather my things and told Hubs, "IF THEY CAN'T SPELL 'BEAR' THEY ARE NOT CUTTING OPEN MY HIP." Thankfully, he talked me off this ledge, as they are the most comfortable socks I have ever worn. Also, and I really need you to work with me and picture this, the Bair Paws gown they gave me had a hose attached and it blew comfy warm air into my gown. I am a chronic spelling snob, but I'm also a chronic cold person, and guess what? Comfort wins. Nice job, Bair Paws people. Atrocious spelling, but great product.)

Back to recovery.

(Side note: Clearly, the FDA should list that a side effect of painkillers is over-use of italics and parentheses.)

I haven't been this helpless since I was a toddler. I can't fix a drink and carry it with me to the couch. I can't sit at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. I can't sweep a floor or empty a trashcan or drive a car or walk to the mailbox with my husband.

My mother–the Greatest Hero In My World–has all but moved in to run my family. Precious friends are providing weeks of meals and rides for my kids and are coming to sit with me so that I will not be alone.

This is how it will be for much of the summer. Once I can start walking in six weeks, I am assured the recovery will still be slow and my limitations will be many. I am told my joint will not be normal, strong, and pain-free for six months.

And I won't lie to you: This is hard.

Me, the mom of the carpool, the class party, the field trip, the sleepover, the mega-grocery trip–I am a bump on this couch while that world outside my window just whirls along without me.

And I feel it, smacking me in the head every time I look around, the lesson that hangs in the air waiting to be learned: I can still love my people.

Let me repeat that, because I don't fully believe it yet, even though a little part of my brain knows it must be true: I can still love my people.

I sit here, waited on hand and foot, knowing how much work I'm creating for the people I love best. And I can't help. I cannot love them by jumping up and fixing them a casserole or driving to dance class. I can love them, as I sit (lay/lie) here. I can listen, pray, watch, laugh, comfort, but I can't DO.

And guess what? Loving your people by DOING is way easier than loving them the other ways. I realize, painfully, how addicted I've been to proving my love to my family (and myself) by just moving around on their behalf all the time.

The other day, I crutched myself gently out to my front porch because I need to breathe some air. It was starting to sprinkle, and my ten-year-old daughter dashed out past me and began to dance in the rain. I just watched her, easing myself onto a bench. She danced. And I just watched. I didn't run inside to grab my phone and snap a picture of the cute moment. I didn't watch for ten seconds and then tell her, sorry, I have to go inside and fold clothes now. I just watched her. I watched the beautiful length of her legs, and the funny way the hair started to stick to the side of her face. I just watched and savored that moment, right there.

I just loved her.

I am seeing these moments begin to take shape, as I let go of the old ways of loving my family and try to embrace these newer (and harder) ones. I listen to the sound of my husband's footsteps in the kitchen as he prepares my meds and comes to put me in bed, and I pray that God will ease his burdens. I just love him.

When my son needs to discuss a school frustration, I do not cut the conversation short to hop onto the next thing, because I can't–because the only way I can love him is to hear him. And we talk, more deeply than we've ever talked on the topic. I just love him.

I am ashamed how hard it is to slow down and love my family in this new way. I should've learned it years ago.  I wonder what all I have missed when I dashed off to fold their towels instead of watching them dance in the rain?

Teach me, Lord.



A Thimbleful of Steadfastness

I've been in a trial of late. The kind where my old nemesis anxiety sets up camp and tries to take over, and the inside of my own head becomes the battleground.

And then, in addition to the trial itself, there arrives the guilt over the stickiness of the worried thoughts. When, I wonder, will I be a giant of the faith, the woman who roars with the confidence of a victory already won? I've walked with God for so long. So very long. Shouldn't that faith just show up by now?

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

WELL, then, there is no chance of perfect peace for me, because "steadfast"? My mind is the opposite of steadfast. It is withering and weak. How in a million years might I summon up a helping of "steadfast"? I can't even hear the Still, Small Voice through the chatter. But then, in a brief moment, there it is:

Steadfastness isn't necessarily a gleaming battle sword. Sometimes it's a tiny little pathway of baby steps.

Baby steps of steadfastness.

Microscopic decisions that in this moment, this millisecond, I choose to trust that the Author of the Universe is who He says He is, and He holds me and walks beside and before me.

And if (when) the doubt rushes back in, I take another baby step of steadfastness.

In this second I choose to trust.

Pause. Doubt.

And then in this second, I choose to trust.


In this second, I choose to trust.

Trusting–really trusting–is not a spiritual medal that magically gets pinned on me after a lifetime of having it figured out. I do not have to grab my own bootstraps and hoist myself onto a spiritual pedestal.

I do not need the courage of a lion. I only need a thimbleful of steadfastness, just enough to take a deep breath and grab the Hand being offered me.

In this second, I choose to trust.



I was first called "Mommy" on my 28th birthday. I had already been a mother for over three years, but my oldest child had a moderate speech delay that kept him on the toddlerish "ma-ma" longer than is probably typical. But on that day, my birthday, my preschooler suddently piped up with a heartfelt "Mommy!" What an amazing birthday gift, I thought to myself. I was relieved at his improving speech patterns, of course, but more than that, I felt I had joined a revered club. I was somebody's mommy.

Boy, was I ever.

That was August of 2000. In addition to my "mommy"-saying preschooler, I had a lightning-fast 18-month old toddler who never met a surface he didn't try to jump off of. When I wasn't wrangling him off the furniture, I was dashing to the bathroom, sick as could be from the third little person growing in my belly.

I built spectacular Thomas the Tank Engine tracks. I could change a diaper in the dark in under 30 seconds. I could nurse a baby in a moving car without ever unbuckling him (don't ask). I went to playgroups, library story times, and I was never more than three feet from a box of wet wipes.

I was Mommy.

I wonder how many times I heard that word? Mommy, I'm scared. Mommy, I'm hurt. Mommy, he hit me. Mommy, it's my turn. Mommy, what's that? Mommy, how does it work? Mommy, I'm hungry. Mommy, I want that. Mommy, I don't want that. Can I, Mommy, please, please, please, pleeeeease? Mommy, watch this. Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy.


It was beautiful to me, most of the time, except on the exhausting days when I wished everybody could develop laryngitis all at once. I could hear it and know instantly who was saying it, what he needed, and precisely where in the house he could be found.

Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy. Hubs and I would hear it from the backseat on long car trips. He would look at me in amazement. "Do they always say your name that much?" he asked. I nodded.

And then, shockingly, just around the time the firstborn suddenly shifted to "Mom", the surprise fourth child arrived to add her voice.

Mommy, mommy, mommy. It was my music. My theme song. The soundtrack of a season that has followed me until this, the approaching summer of my 41st birthday.

"I need to ask you something," my youngest child said to me last week. She was very serious. I sat down.

"I think I'm one of the last of the second graders to say 'mommy'," she explained. She paused pensively. "Would you mind if I just called you 'mom' now?"

It is touching to me that she would ask. I guess she needed to make it official, with a pronouncement. She's her mother's daughter, after all.

I smiled and shrugged. "Call me whatever you want," I told her. "I'll come running."

She kissed me and hopped up, off to the next thing. But I sat for a second more, mentally placing a bookend. I guess that's that.

It's funny how the little things are sometimes so big. It's just a name, a word I've heard so many thousands of times it's a wonder I could hear it at all. But that's the job, isn't it? We are what they need us to be, and their name for us reflects that.

Call me whatever you want. I'll come running.

Thank you for my sweet mommy years, kids. Thank you for letting me love you and comfort you like only a mommy can. Thank you for growing up into people who can cut their own meat and wipe their own nose.

I love these days.

How (Not) To Teach a Boy To Drive

***This post has been syndicated at BlogHer.***

When those hospital nurses place that baby in your arms and wheel you out to your car, they give you all kinds of health tips and safety checklists. They warn you about lead paint. They warn you about tummy sleeping. They even tell you to count how often he poops.

What they do not tell you on all those checklists is that you might want to begin preparing yourself right now for the fact that you will someday teach that tiny little creature how to drive a car. And when that moment comes, even though you have a full awareness that your child is maturing and becoming an adult, there is another part of your brain that feels like it's been ten minutes since that hospital checklist, and why, why did I just hand car keys to a six-pound baby who eats every two hours?

(Come to think of it, he still eats every two hours. It's easy to see why I would be confused.)

Anyway, here we are. Driving. With my Adam.  He has a learner's permit, so all his driving hours are with Hubs and me. God bless that poor child, because there could not be two more polar opposite driving teachers on the planet. Let's hope it makes for some well-rounded learning and not to a tendency to tune out my voice for the rest of his life.

Hubs is calm. He ascribes to the philosophy that experience is the best teacher and our boy will rise to (and learn from) whatever driving challenges Hubs put in front of him. He pushes him, gently, with minimal interruption except when it's critical.

I, on the other hand, ascribe to the philosophy that I should share every bit of automotive-related knowledge that has ever been inside my brain, all the time, at every opportunity, pausing only for enough breath that I don't hyperventilate:

It's time to change lanes. Check your blind spot. Did you look over your shoulder? I didn't see you look over your shoulder. People have been KILLED because they didn't look over their shoulder. Okay, good job. Now, do you see those brake lights in front of you? Back off a little. Back off. BACK OFF. That's better. [Phone beeps.] Ah, did you hear that? You just got a text but we are not checking it, NO SIR WE ARE NOT, because just remember that if I ever learn you have texted while driving I will nail your bedroom door shut until you are thirty. Hey, that was a nice turn, but did you see that guy roll through that stop sign next to us? He's an idiot. You must assume everyone around you is an IDIOT, ALL THE TIME, and they are about to make every driving mistake known to man, and if you think this way, then perhaps you will survive.

I'll leave it to you to decide which parent he'd rather drive with. He's too respectful to say it, but it is noticeable that when he is driving with Hubs he is confident and capable. When he is with me he is jittery and tense, and we both end our driving sessions with wild-ish eyes.

(While it is true that I may not have a future career as a professional driving instructor, let the record show that when they handed that pooping, hungry, crying six-pounder to us in the hospital, I had my wits about me and it was Hubs who was in danger of hyperventilating. It takes all sorts.)

Adam is a great kid–cautious and responsible. If were to trust any kid with two tons of accelerating steel, it would be this one. His mother may have gray hair and permanent knee damage from stomping her imaginary brake on the passenger side, but Adam? He's going to be just fine.


(Is This Thing Still On?)

Well, hello there, Internetland.

I'm thinking about blogging again. (There. I said it.) After a long and much-needed absence from this place, I feel a nudge back. Mostly from my kids, who say they enjoy my writing (which may just be a really nice way to say that if I am inundating the Internet with my words, perhaps I won't have enough left over to tell them to remind them to feed the dog/take out the trash/write a thank-you note/finish your algebra.) But their words have touched me. Maybe it's time.

When friends have asked why I gave up blogging, I told them that the book-writing experience used up all my words. And truly, that was the most daunting thing I've ever done. But there was more to it than that, though I'm not sure I can explain it very well. I just felt personally overwhelmed by the "noise" of the Internet. There was just SO MUCH STUFF out there–much of it really good and worth reading/watching/trying. The truth is that I think women (and I'm preaching to myself here) probably need to get themselves off the Internet and sit face-to-face with the real people in their lives–their families and friends, as well as the friends that aren't friends yet but might be if we could just get ourselves out from behind the computer. If I kept plugging along at my own little corner of Internetland, was I just making more noise? Was I part of the problem? Maybe. I'm still not sure.

I'm willing to try it–to see if blogging can be done with a little (lot) more balance than I did it the last time. Maybe I can even chronicle the journey. The only things I've written for the last two years have been checks, so please bear with me while I shake off the dust.

But where to start? I gave some thought to tossing out "Rocks In My Dryer" altogether and start with something new, to reflect this new season of writing and life. I mean, technically, (and it kind of rips my heart out to say this), there aren't rocks in my dryer anymore. There are ink pens in my dryer, as well as car keys (mercy!), notes from teenage girls (oh great, DEEP mercy!), dollar bills, and (on one particularly bad day) an iPod, but rarely any rocks. I'm more or less out of the kids-with-rocks-stuffed-in-their-pockets season of parenting. I have mixed feelings about this (mostly good, but let's go into that another day). But after some thought, I decided I couldn't quite let go of "Rocks In My Dryer"–it feels like part of the family. And I feel like there's some big, metaphorical significance to the phrase, but I haven't had enough caffeine this morning to find it.

Anyway, here's a little snapshot of where life has landed me since the last time I wrote.

I'm still plugging along in suburban Oklahoma. We moved to a new house nearly three years ago, to an elbow-room spot pretty far out of town. We love our new(-ish) place, though adapting to life in the "country" has been a little challenging for me at times. (I have to use those quotation
marks. When I say we "live in the country" Hubs looks at me like I'm crazy. We're still nine minutes to a Wal Mart, but we're 20 minutes to a TJ Maxx, so I'm practically a frontiersman.)

My kids are so grown up I just don't even know what to make of it. When I started this blog, my little Corrie was a baby; now she's a second grader. Adam, my firstborn, is going to be 16 this summer. He's six feet tall and 115 pounds, which means my part-time job has been trying to find pants that fit him. Stephen is my 14-year-old brilliant soccer star (I am not biased AT ALL), and my little Joseph is the opposite of little. He's nearly 12, and he is built like a linebacker (with a heart so tender it could melt stone).
OH, those kids. I love 'em. I love them so much I can't see straight, and let me tell you that parenting teenagers is my favorite thing I've ever done (more on that later; in the meantime, you sweet young mommas, don't believe all the horror stories.)

And, of course, there's Hubs. More of a keeper now than ever. This summer I will have officially been with that man for over half my life, and it just gets better and better. Toby the Dog is still around, too. He grows increasingly irrational with age, which means he and I are on the SAME PAGE.

And that's that. More importantly (in the unlikely even that anyone sees this blog post) how are YOU? I really want to know.


Sharing Sick

I really don't have time to get sick. And while I don't consider myself a germophobe, I'm extra careful this time of year–hand sanitizer, extra handwashing, etc. There are things to be done around here, and five days in bed with the flu just won't cut it.


Unless my baby daughter (who is now eight and most definitely not a baby, but when her face is flushed with fever she is my baby) gets sick. Really sick–high fever with a deep and rattly cough. Hubs and the brothers left town with my blessing to go to a already-scheduled family celebration in Arkansas. So my girl and I set up camp in the living room with an air mattress, Gatorade, Motrin, and a towering stack of Barbie DVDs.

We turned off all the lights but the Christmas tree, and we lay in our little sick camp. Her damp head was on my chest, our arms wrapped around each other. I could hear and feel the little rasp in her chest with each breath, and the thought occurred to me–only briefly–that whatever nasty germs were making my girl miserable were almost certainly working their way right into me with each breath of hers. (And do they really look like the horrid creatures in the Mucinex ads? I am certain they must.)

And not only do I not mind the intrusion, I welcome it. Sure, it would be convenient to stay healthy so I can care for her better, but I'd manage. And I know, rationally, that if I take her sickness into me it won't lessen her own symptoms.

But she's miserable. And there is something in me, something that loves her so completely and profoundly and wants to take her misery onto myself. To let her hear my own rattly coughs so she'll know that I understand hers. To put on what ails her and share in her suffering.

In this season when we tiptoe a little closer to the Baby in the manger, when we celebrate His humanity, and ask ourselves why, how, could the God of the universe send salvation into a smelly stable and the arms of a frightened girl, I'm struck, suddenly, that He simply heard the rattle of sin in me. He knew the hurt I'd face. And because He's a Father who loves so completely and profoundly, He stepped in to take my misery on Himself. He let me see His own suffering so I'd know He understands mine.

My analogy starts unraveling there, though. If I get the flu, then there's just two of us with the flu. When He took on what ails me, what ails all of us, He started walking us toward a cure. Sometimes it feels like a long walk, and it doesn't happen overnight. There are still setbacks and valleys, some of them horrible. But we don't walk alone anymore. We walk with a Healer, a Victor, a Teacher, and a Guide–and a Father, who heard His child suffering and stepped in to fix it, because, unlike me, He really could.