by Jennifer Dyer
Three weeks ago I had a hysterectomy…just in time for the holidays.
I’d spent a great deal of time preparing for my surgery emotionally and physically. A few years ago I had cancer, and the surgery didn’t go well. This time I was determined to be prepared for the worst and keep my family functioning. I bought enough toilet paper to keep a convenience store running–my daughter with autism loves to watch it go down the pipes. I fixed extra meals. I prepared a few holiday dishes. I did laundry. I picked up clutter.
In addition, I studied up on hysterectomies and talked to previous patients. I even connected with a friend scheduled to have surgery right after me. I knew I’d be down for at least a week, maybe two, but after that I should be good to go.
The good news is my friend hosted a huge holiday meal in her brand new house and did lots of holiday shopping less than two weeks after her surgery.
Me? I watched the entire series of Cake Boss on Netflix while lying in bed.
At this point, I’m in the midst of a typical post-surgical depression in addition to drowning in unending nausea. I don’t have energy to do much. I want to curl up under the covers and feel sorry for myself.
And I feel a bit like a spectator in my own home.
However, a few things have occurred to me:
- I don’t always have to be the best at something, recovering from surgery included. Maybe I’m not the kind of patient the doctor wants on his Christmas cards, but that’s OK.
- Circumstantial depression is a temporary state. I will come out of it. Yes, I feel like I’m trying to climb my way out of a well right now, but that feeling will go away. The best thing I can do is ease back into as much of my normal as is possible even though that will take me some time.
- The holidays don’t have to be picture perfect. I’ve said this many times, but it’s easy to forget.
- When mom steps back, sometimes others blossom. My eleven-year-old daughter did most of our decorating for Christmas. And you know what? She enjoyed it. She has also done some baking this year with me giving mostly verbal prompts.
- Rachel has grown closer to others while I’m down. I’ve seen her give several people genuine hugs, and she shows me pictures of her adventures with a huge grin on her face. There’s still no one she prefers like her Mamma, but she has branched out a bit.
Sometimes I set huge expectations of myself and am left feeling like that winter picture above: frozen and heavy with burdens. What I forget is that in the spring my yard will be bursting with blooms and life. Just like my yard, under the surface, in my heart, even when I can’t be active or live up to my expectations, God is at work.
If you’ve set huge expectations for yourself this season and feel you are not measuring up, give yourself some grace. Sometimes it is what is taking place under the surface–the heart–that matters.
So, remember: Even when circumstances look bleak, great things are taking place underneath.