Living with Gleigh

By the time you read this, the deed will have been done and I will hopefully be on the road to recovery. I’m writing this the week before in preparation for the hysteria part of my operation – that is to get my family ready for mom to be out of commission for a few weeks.

I’ve been given strict instructions by the doctor not to drive, lift or do anything strenuous for several weeks. She offered to write a note getting me out of housework for a month. A nurse told me not to get out of my pajamas for at least a week. She said the moment they see you in regular clothes and walking around, that’ll be the end. I’m obviously not the only woman who’s gone through this.

Truthfully, I’d like to be one of those who come home the same night, drive within the week and get back to my normal state of being. I won’t be able to garden for several weeks, or grocery shop or lift more than 10 to 15 pounds as it is.

It is major surgery and I’m trying to get my family to understand the ramifications of me not running the household. Mostly though, I want to feel like I’m being taken care of. In theory my husband and adult children should be able to accomplish the task, but I’ve never been at their mercy in this way.

I know I brought this on myself. I did too much for all of them without asking for help, didn’t demand that much of them, my husband included. It’s not that I haven’t taught them how to do household chores, my husband has made me breakfast every morning since he’s been retired. It’s their ability to think of someone outside of themselves that worries me.

I have a vague sense of being sacrificed. In the pre-operative ritual I’ve been given, I must shower with my own soap and shampoo, wait an hour, then wipe myself down with four special disinfecting wipes, one for each quadrant of my body. Then I’m to don clean pajamas and sleep in clean sheets. In the morning I repeat the shower and disinfecting wipes, dress in clean clothes and present myself at the hospital. I seem to remember some history or mythology lesson where a virgin is washed and perfumed, dressed in a white garment and thrown off the rim of a volcano. Except in my case, it’s marking the end of my reproductive days. That virgin those lessons spoke of never had a chance.

Ultimately, I do believe it will be okay. My family showed me they’re willing to help me. My youngest has cleaned the house; I wanted to have it clean before I was laid up so I didn’t have to think about it. My oldest went grocery shopping with me and my husband is mowed the yard. I know I can count on them even if I have to ask.

I’m probably the only one with the hysteria, my family is acting pretty chill. Maybe I just want them to be more worried.

There’s a secret desire for a mom to want her family to anticipate her needs. I don’t want to beg for help. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can teach or prepare them to think that way. It’s an ability which descends on a woman the moment she says, “I do,” and a baby is placed in her arms.

I’m content with their pre-surgery actions and am focusing on myself, which in the long run is what will help my recovery go the most smoothly. Hysteria-ectomy notwithstanding.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in a neighborhood near you. You can read more of her writing on her website livingwithgleigh.com; to read her column every week and see pictures illustrating them, follow her on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh by Gretchen Leigh.