Parenting With One Hand Behind Your Back

Mommies are supposed to be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound  and perform other feats of superhuman strength. I’ve carried my daughters around even when my back was out, kept the household going through a severe bout of the swine flu, and walked the dog when I had a gimpy leg.  But all it took was a quick snap of the wrist in karate class this weekend to really throw me for a loop. Consider a broken wrist my kryptonite.

I’ve lost complete use of my left hand, which for most people wouldn’t be a big deal. But I’m a lefty, and my right hand has generally just been there for show. And so I am left navigating the world with just one subpar hand, trying to relearn how to do things like make sandwiches, dress myself, and brush my hair.

It’s not going very well. I can’t wear anything but T-shirts and sweatpants, so I look like a shlub everywhere I go. I have bed head and not in a good way, unless my nine-year-old puts my hair in a ponytail. And somehow, already, the cast is starting to smell funky.

As a writer, I usually spend most of my days clattering away on a keyboard. But one-handed typing takes 10 times as long, and so I’ve resorted to voice recognition software. Talking to write seems to be almost as challenging as one-handed typing. But at least the words come a little faster (even if they’re sometimes incorrect).

I feel bad for my husband. Even when we’re both at full capacity, managing the chaos in our house requires all hands on deck. But right now, the only chore I can still muster is unloading and loading the dishwasher, unless it has a lot of heavy dishes in it. So his plate is overloaded. Fortunately, my daughters are old enough to take on a bit more here at home – not that they are exactly chomping at the bit for a chance to take out the garbage or fold laundry. But maybe this will teach them a little bit more responsibility.

And I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself. I can’t take care of my kids the way I used to, can’t hug my daughters before bed at night. The things I like to do for fun tend to require two hands – you can’t play bass guitar or bake cookies with one hand. I have to bum rides from my friends, and get chauffeured anywhere I need to go. I feel like a loser, sitting on my couch in PJs, watching TV and nursing an aching arm while my husband manages everything else.

Right now, I’m making it job number one to regain my left hand as soon as I possibly can. I am following a superhealthy diet for bone growth – no wine or caffeine or carbonated drinks, and plenty of healthy foods, like low-fat dairy, veggies, and lean meat. I am getting more sleep. And the following doctor’s orders to T.

I’m trying to stay positive about this. My kids will learn more responsibility. I may start eating healthier. My right hand and arm will get stronger. And we will make it through the next six weeks, even if my house ends up looking like a disaster.

But in the meantime, I need some advice from moms who have been through this before. Any tips for better one-handed grooming? Any suggestions for getting the kids to pitch in? Any ideas for helping me feel a little less useless?

Image: Wrist cast by SFC/

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  1. by jan

    On February 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    bone growth diet… belch! i suggest copious amounts of caffeine and wine to soothe your injured mind and body!