I might have done it at any point during the last week. It might have been as Pudding climbed up my body and held on tight as she refused to go to school. It might have been any day I had to scoop up Cubby to take him home from Pudding’s school, because he wanted to stay there. It might have been bending down to put on shoes, or picking up discarded toys. It might have been pushing Pudding on her indoor swing to get the vestibular input that she needs. But I think I hurt my back on Tuesday.
On Tuesday I’d gone with my another mother to a playgroup with her kids. She thought Cubby might enjoy it too, and she was right. The class was run by an occupational therapist, designed to get toddlers involved with sensory-motor play. Pudding is only in school in the morning, and I wasn’t sure how she’d do in the class, but we went along away.
Almost immediately, Pudding was overloaded. It was busy and over-stimulating. The room was filled with toddlers and their mothers, and all over the walls and hanging from the ceilings were props from that week’s theme: nursery rhymes. Pudding ran around to touch everything, which was the whole idea, but Pudding doesn’t know her own strength, and I had to leave Cubby as I trailed around making sure she didn’t break anything. It was time to sit down for the class, and Pudding didn’t want to sit.
The music began. It was loud. Too loud for both my kids. Too loud for me these days, feeling every sensory assault for them, even if my senses are perfectly in sync. Cubby spied some toys outdoors and began hammering on the patio doors to get out. I was still holding Pudding down, and unable to bring him back to the circle. Eventually I made myself heard over the music, and by some miracle he returned. There were songs and dances, and soon Cubby was participating, so we stayed. Pudding quieted down and remained on the mat beside me. Then it was finally time for outdoor play.
All the kids stampeded outside, but for one: Pudding. She was curled up in the child’s pose, her arms wrapped around her head. The din was too much for her. I stroked her hair, and asked her to come outside. She didn’t hear me. She’d protected herself by withdrawing. I pulled her into my lap and she closed her eyes, her senses too confused to adequately protect herself from the onslaught.
I needed to get her away from the noise. I picked up all 50 pounds of my incredibly tall 4 year-old, and carried her outdoors. Instantly she was better, but I paid the price as I pulled the muscles in my back. It still hurts if I bend down, twist my spine, or lift something up. I don’t know about you, but I’m always bending down, twisting, or lifting something, or someone up.
If you are a caregiver, the chances are that at some point, you will hurt your back. Perhaps your loved one has a physical disability, and you help to move them from the wheelchair to another chair or bed. Maybe you are a carer for someone like my girl, who has balance problems, and seeks support by hanging around your neck, throwing your center of gravity off. It could be that you are at times hugging or carrying your child as though they are still a baby, only they weigh several times what they did as an infant.
In the last few months, life has been hectic. I’ve slipped with the one thing I shouldn’t: taking care of myself. I didn’t bring any workout videos with me in the air baggage. I intend to join a gym as soon as the kids are both settled in school, but we’re not there yet. It will absolutely become a priority now. The kids are depending on me, perhaps a little more than most children depend on their mother.
At least this was only a minor injury, and I’m sure to recover very soon. I’m glad for the reminder to take care of myself, keep myself healthy, both emotionally and physically. I’m the backbone, the support for the family, and I intend to be that for as long as I have to. I need to be strong.