Acts, Mothering, The Body Electric

The Limited

I saw on TV the other day that big box stores are placing limits on the number of (huge) bags of rice customers can buy. It's a response to a world-wide shortage, if I understand it all correctly, but it reminds me a bit of the old demand that we finish our peas because children were starving in India. Why can't we address the problems where they really exist?

I guess it's because most of us feel limited.

Just now I am limited by my hand and wrist problems, and a few other things that seem to be going wrong in this middle-aged body. I've lost a lot of weight in the hope of avoiding some of these woes, which I did not have at the greater avoirdupois, and I must say it's annoying to be experiencing them now. Causality would suggest that Bigger Songbird should have been suffering from a stiff knee, not Medium Songbird, and surely never the Wee Songbird I am striving to become!

But, I am limited, by genetics and history and circumstances and age. And I am limited in power, too. I cannot make things right just by wishing for them to be right.

And that's VERY annoying!!!

I'm not preaching on the Ascension text this week, but one of the things I love in this story from Acts is the idea that we can't know everything, that Jesus reassures us that some things are not in our control. For those of us who are firmly convinced that perfecting ourselves will make the difference, this comes as a relief (okay, also an annoyance, but a relief at the same time).

I look at Molly, who is 6, and has arthritis, and an injured shoulder that isn't getting better, and I know that lifting her contributed to my current injuries and that my inability to lift her now is worsening hers. We both have limits, but we can't seem to live within them contentedly. She wants to get on the sofa. I want to, or have to, fix dinner, open boxes and cans, hold a book and read. I don't know if we'll get better, either of us. I don't know if my husband's imminent arrival and ability to lift heavy dogs in a single bound will be all it takes for Molly. I don't know if the sports medicine doctor (and that I am going to one at all is hilarious) will have an answer or a treatment for me.

I do know I can't fix either of us alone.

My children are leIarning their limits, too. Snowman does well in everything, except math, and as I said to his father this morning, he may have reached his limit in that area. I know I did, I said, and his father concurred. If he will just give it his all for the next month, he can retire from the study of math, gracefully and perhaps gratefully, too.

The Princess begins tennis today after school, and we will see whether she takes after her father (good) or me (oh, don't ask, just painful, couldn't even learn to turn my head to look at the ball when it came toward the racket level of bad) when it comes to racket sports. I said nothing to discourage her. I like tennis. I loved watching my dad play when I was little, and later watching Wimbledon and the U.S. Open with him. I know the kind of clothes you need for tennis and coached her through a shopping trip at The Sports Authority yesterday.

Today I am aware of the limits, too, of time and space. My husband and my sons are far away. They'll all come home in the next few weeks. By May 25th we will all be under this roof together, at least for a time. But there are limits on how long that will last, limits of maturity and mortality.

But let's not be morbid. The truth is, we're all going to these places of decay and one of the things standing between us and the abyss is attitude. So I try to have a sense of humor. For a day or two I complained about the wrist splints the doctor gave me. Now I laugh and call them my bands of power!

I hope my children will find their ways to amuse themselves out of the corners of life, too.

When The Princess gets out onto the court with her racket, when Snowman takes on the last project for math class, when I listen to the advice of the doctor, I hope we can all accept our limits but not be discouraged by them. I hope we can all live fully within the limits, and look around to see the places where we might be freer, too.

15 thoughts on “The Limited”

  1. Oh, my. No! That’s a picture from the Internet!!! I have little stubs, at the moment.

  2. Just dropping by for my dose of Songbird insight which is deep and true. Blessings.

  3. haha! your bands of power! they could be your wonder woman ‘bracelets’! 🙂
    have you or molly considered acupuncture? i haven’t sought it because i haven’t needed it, but i generally hear only positive things about it. just a thought. hang in there.

  4. You know, you really are rather remarkable my friend…What a good thing to read at the beginning of the day. Thank you xx

  5. oh ps: we have dog stairs so the little dogs can get on the big bed. Maybe dog stairs for the sofa? (sturdier than we have…!)

  6. Oliver Sacks writes about people with extraordinary differences in perception and ability who learn to live with grace. I think of his patients when I come up against my limitations. He rejoices in the human capacity for adaptation and so, do I.
    I reached my limits for maths at 4 years old when my oldest sister told me to give her my dime for her nickel because the nickel was larger.

  7. Accepting limits, without being discouraged by them. Thanks for putting your eloquent – albeit sore – finger on this for me.

  8. Limits are an ignoble pain in the rear to me too. I am constantly brought short with this only 24 hours in a day business.

  9. soon, very soon, all your chickens in the coop. are you excited for graduation?

  10. Very, ppb!
    concretegodmother, we have both been going to acupuncture. Jury is still out on how it’s helping.
    MB, I think I am going to work on steps. That is a great suggestion.

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