“The doctor told me I stand too much,” I say, though that’s not exactly true.

There I’d been, at a potentially urgent appointment, my two-year-old son watching in awe as I lay on the examining table without yelling out in protest, as he would, when the doctor prodded me. 

It was the first time I’d been still all morning.  And still, my heart was racing.  Was the pain in my leg deep vein thrombosis?  It’s  a phantom that’s haunted me for years, fueled by a birth control pill prescription and vague stories of a great-aunt or maybe great-great aunt who’d died when a varicose vein had been accidentally severed as she moved around…a shop she and her husband ran or owned, I think.  All of this, along with weak circulation and other problems, ones that doctors often remarked on when it came to my “marbled skin” and frequently cold extremities.

The doctor told me to bend my legs.  He palpated and poked at different parts of them, asking what hurt.  Only one place did, the spot I’d noticed in the shower that morning, the spot that had been waking me up slightly at night when I leaned on it.

“Your legs are muscular,” the doctor remarked.  “You’re on your feet a lot.” It was just an observation, but I suddenly felt tears in my eyes.

Yes, I am on my feet, I wanted to say, I wanted to yell.  All the time.  I thought of how I was always cleaning, always planning, always preparing meals, always trying to keep up our apartment, always trying to keep up with my son. And trying to keep food in the fridge and cabinets, and sometimes just walking for the hell of it, to pass the time, my son singing in his carriage, or asking for a cookie (not that I blame him), and sometimes I’m lost in thought, sometimes so present.

Yes, I am on my feet, waiting.  I wait for guests to arrive, I wait for trains and trams and buses.  I wait to use the bathroom. I wait outside my son’s door at night, listening to him breathe just long enough to reassure myself he’ll be okay, even though there’s no particular reason to think he won’t be. 

Yes, I am on my feet, picking up toys and crumbs, wiping up hairballs our cat regularly expels and telling myself I need to brush him more, and feeling bad when I turn around and realize I forgot to stand in front of the washing machine and unload the clothes into the dryer, and hang other ones on the rack.

I hide the tears and don’t say anything. If I do, I think I’ll never stop crying.


The doctor gives me a note to get an ultrasound of my leg, but only as a precaution. He tells me the problem is probably muscular, due to my supinated left foot.  He prescribes an ointment and a visit to a podiatrist.  

He didn’t say anything about me standing too often. I didn’t, either. My body spoke for me. Now, I’m trying to listen.

Views: 137

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on April 18, 2016 at 4:42pm

Be only well, friend.

Comment by nerd cred on April 18, 2016 at 4:47pm

Yes, take care of yourself. Yes, sit, relax. I agree with your doctor. It's usually the simplest thing. (I looked up "supinated." That should make a leg hurt at least sometimes.)

Comment by JMac1949 Today on April 18, 2016 at 4:49pm

Sit and brush the cat, play with the boy, order Vietnamese delivery (Do they have that in Paris?).  Tell your man that the doctor told you to get off your feet and take care of yourself, his arms aren't broken, he can do the dishes.  After all it's the 21st Century.

Comment by Zanelle on April 18, 2016 at 4:49pm

Oh, my heart goes out to you.  BALANCE. The UPS and the downs.  I was like that with my first baby.  With baby two I sat down.  Now I sit too much.  My first baby has a baby now and I want to tell her to sit down but I remember.

And trying not to cry is a big one for me too.  I'm holding out better lately but the darnedest things make me realize the stress I carry around buried so deep.

Hugs and thanks for writing. 

Comment by koshersalaami on April 18, 2016 at 5:29pm
Pace yourself
Glad it's something you can deal with
Comment by nerd cred on April 18, 2016 at 7:06pm

I thought of something else. Can you get orthotics? I used to have them in my sneakers (OTC, not custom made) because of flat arches. I'd get home from work with badly aching legs, especially knees. Once I put on the sneakers to walk the dog the pain immediately disappeared. Even if you didn't wear them all the time, just for the long outside walks, I wonder if it wouldn't make a difference? (I'm going to want to know if the French medical system will provide them for you, too! I've heard such good things about it. But many people I've known have got them through medical insurance here. I want to compare!)

But mostly what JMac said about the 21st century. I put it to my husband once as - think if you just stayed at work 24/7 and the kids and I dropped in for an hour or two at dinner time? That's not so brilliant now that I see it written out but as much as you love that little boy, you are at work 24/7. Because of your relationship with your job, because you love him as much as you do, you are more constantly and deeply focused than most people are at most jobs. It's stressful. It's hard.

I did stay-at-home, at least most of the time, for 18-20 years and 3 kids. Sometimes I was in neighborhoods where other moms were packed in closely and there were kids and yards that my kids generally preferred to me for filling their time. One time, in the neighborhood where everyone knew my coffee pot was always on because I also babysat for a small pack of kids, a friend expressed guilt about sitting around at my house when all the husbands were off working sooo hard. (Puh-leeze - they were all grad students and her particular husband did less work than just about anyone at that university.) I told her to think of what we did as professional seminars. And we did exchange information, learn a lot from each other. Mostly we gave great support and I couldn't have survived that time without the other women.

By 1977 my kids were asking me why I didn't have a job or go to school like all the other moms. Times had changed. I doubt that kind of supportive situation exists anywhere in this country any more. (I went back to school that year, as scheduled.)

You don't have that kind of support. You have to find another way to take the pressure and stress off yourself. You can't do Julien any good if you don't take care of his mom! 

Voice of experience from a very old woman.

Comment by Anna Herrington on April 18, 2016 at 8:01pm


Thinking of you! and sending a big hug and foot massage.

Dinner's ready but I'll be back, had to at least say hi ~

Comment by Alysa Salzberg on April 21, 2016 at 2:44pm

Hi guys,

I was so moved to read your comments, thoughts, and advice.  I can't tell you how much it means to me to know I have a group of people I can turn to when this mothering/life thing gets really hard.  I am so sorry I couldn't reply - I read the comments, figured I'd have some time to reply, and then the last few days walloped us with everything from a late night toilet leak that required shutting down our building's water and calling an emergency plumber, to Julien getting the chicken pox! 

All of your comments moved me and made me smile. Nerd Cred, I managed to make an appointment yesterday to get fitted for orthotics, and have been compiling a list of questions about what kind of sandals I can wear them with (I was happy to learn there are all kinds of sandals out there in all kinds of styles that allow you to remove the sole they come with, to put in your own custom-made one).  Hopefully all will be well.  Also, you always write such interesting reminisces here.  I loved your story about being with other stay at home moms back in the day - and was kind of jealous, too.  My mom friends just don't have kids the same age, or live too far away, and I haven't found a mom yet that I'd like to make friends with.  Well, maybe once, in a park, but we didn't exchange numbers. I'm hoping I'll run into her again someday....

Thanks again, guys.  And now, back to real life I go!


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