I strive to be a fun Mommy. This isn't to say that I don't discipline Robby, because I do. Sometimes I think the only words he hears during the day are "no," "stop it" or "put it down."
After Robby was born, I resolved to be the kind of parent that plays with her child instead of being content to sit back and watch. I do this partly because I want to show him that I am not limited by my amputation. I try to demonstrate that a disability does not have to be a limiting force in life.
Robby and his three cousins were ecstatic when they saw the Slip n' Slide set up at the Fourth of July picnic. In spite of their excitement, none of them quite knew how to use it. With no adults volunteering, I decided to take action. Strutting my cool Mom attitude, I put on my bathing suit and assumed the challenge of "Slip n' Slide Instructor."
As I stood in front of the slide, wearing my swimsuit and water leg, I realized that I have never been on a Slip n' Slide. Undeterred by my own inexperience and feeling pressure to succeed from my growing audience, I quickly analyzed the situation in an attempt to determine the best approach.
I instantly reasoned that I was missing the natural grace required for the belly flop style approach. Running and flying through the air onto a thin sheet of wet plastic just isn't my style. Besides, I was pretty sure that any combination of running and flying would quickly land me in the hospital. Instead, I opted to lie down on the very small, child-sized boogie board that was included in the package and to push myself down the slide.
Lying on the boogie board, and with a captive audience of both children and adults, I pushed with my arms to start the descent. I didn't move. I pushed harder. The boogie board stayed put, but my body went whizzing down the hill and into the splash pool at the bottom of the slide. Cold water splashed my face and grass went up my nose. The children cheered and the adults were laughing as I struggled to my feet.
I discovered that I needed to keep my prosthetic leg elevated throughout the ride to avoid snagging the plastic. Standing up after the slide was an exercise in acrobatics. My water leg is great in the pool but is not designed for walking and standing in the grass.
The kids needed the Slip n' Slide modeled only once before they caught on. Unfortunately for me, they preferred sitting on my back and using me as the boogie board versus the small plastic one included in the package. This meant that I was going down the slide a lot! This also meant that I was using my arms to push off countless times, and endured numerous splashes of water in my face as I plunged, face first, into the pool at the bottom of the slide.
Many times the pool stopped my momentum. Unfortunately, most of the time I continued through the pool and onto the grass. I had mud, grass and, much to my chagrin, I am fairly confident that I also had dog poop all over my chin and chest by the end of the afternoon. With each painful and tiring ride, the kids cheered and chanted "more more more." My ego kept me from stopping because the cool Mom never stops when the fun is in full swing.
Finally the Slip n' Slide was interrupted by the call for dessert. Cake trumps games every time. I was thankful for the reprieve. I quietly disconnected the slide and limped into the house. The rest of the afternoon was filled with Wiggles DVD's with an unlimited supply of Lucky Charm marshmallows.
I woke up this morning, very sore. My residual limb hurts and my thigh is aching from holding up my water leg during my numerous rides. Bruises cover just about every part of my body. My arms feel like they each weigh 100 pounds. I feel old.
I had a revelation as I was struggling to open the Tylenol bottle. I am a 35 year old woman with one leg. After a certain age, Slip n' Slides become a conduit for injury and pain. I am still going to attempt to be the cool, fun Mommy. I just need to make sure I always have the Tylenol within reach the next morning.