Murphy’s Law and pickles for dinner
By KATE SNYDER
Life with a Smile
I had an unwelcome house guest last week — first name: Murphy; last name: Law.
My co-parent was out of town on a business trip, placing me in full-time parent mode for the week. This meant — of course — that my stupid intermittent lower back problems would rear their stupid heads and be stupid, because Murphy’s Law is real, people.
I’m in reasonably good shape for a moderately-active 36-year-old who has incubated and birthed three tiny humans. But for some mysterious reason, my lower back occasionally goes on the fritz, triggered by such extreme activities as picking up a piece of paper off the floor. One minute I’m blithely going about my business, the next I’m confined to the couch, flailing like a turtle whenever I try to stand up and hobbling like I’m 97 years old.
Usually, I just wait it out and feel better in a week or so but with my childcare reinforcements out of town, I needed a quicker fix. Ain’t nobody got time for crippling back spasms when you’re a single parent.
Thus, I made my first visit to a chiropractor. I have never been so terrified in a medical establishment in my life. The fact that they make you sign alarming consent waivers in which they vow to do their very best not to accidentally paralyze you did not put my mind at ease. The chipper young doc who twisted me up like a pretzel seemed quite confident, however, and as long as I managed to ignore the fact that my body sounded like a popcorn maker, the whole experience wasn’t too bad.
Perhaps even more useful than the chiropractic gyrations, though, was the liberal application of ibuprofen. At least, once I remembered to take it. I’m almost never sick and very rarely in pain, so I tend to forget about things like over-the-counter medications. A friend visited me on about day 2 of the back issue, took one look at how I was moving and demanded to know “what I was taking” for the pain. When I stared at her blankly, she rolled her eyes, ransacked my medicine cabinet, then drove to the store and returned with a giant bottle of pills.
Between the pills and the poking, I slowly started to feel better. As the week wore on, a friend asked if my kids were helping or hurting while I was out of commission. I replied, “Yes.”
I feel like, with kids, the answer is always yes. Do you love them with every fiber of your being? Yes. Do you sometimes want to sell them to the nearest circus? Yes. Do they fill your days with joy and sunshine? Yes. Do you count the seconds until you can put them to bed and you can have some peace and quiet? Yes.
My kids started out very solicitous but quickly bored with that, a reality which suited me fine. Their initial concern for my well-being was a bit exhausting. My eldest daughter could practically be one of the X-Men when it comes to empath abilities. She is deeply attuned to the feelings of the people around her and seeing her mom in pain completely freaked her out. I did my best to appear tough, but she burst into tears every time I tried to stand up.
In an effort to make life easy for myself, I did forgo cooking dinner a couple times. Interestingly, this plan did not actually result in less work for me. It turns out that when you let three children pick whatever random stuff they want to eat, the preparation and cleanup is every bit as substantial as when you plan and execute a cohesive meal. Also, my son opted for a big bowl of honey nut cheerios and a plate of pickles, which was just gross.
The next time this happens, I’ll probably order more pizzas and give myself permission to watch more movies with the kids, but overall we came through OK. Well, except for my son. Pickles and cheerios? Clearly, he needs help.