While You Rest: The Aftermath of Surgery


“Your body’s been through a lot. Go home and get some rest.”

That’s what the nurse told me as I was being discharged after a routine cholecystectomy.  My husband took a week off from work, to take care of all of the things, while I rest. He’s prepared to be me for the week, which includes cooking a zillion times a day, keeping things minimally- okay VERY minimally- clean, and homeschooling our four children, ages 10 and under.

It’s a tall order. The thought of not being in charge for an entire week brings a smile to my face. My husband is in for a real treat (read: wake-up call) and I know it. When I get home, I lean back against my propped-up pillows and prepare my Netflix queue. Ready for optimal resting.

What actually happens while I rest, is a completely different story. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself these truths about the “restful” week ahead of me.

While you rest, you have to depend on other people. A lot. You find your inability to painlessly prop-up your own pillows, infuriating. So infuriating, you cry. Yes, you cry very angry tears over pillow-propping, while you rest.

While you rest, you can still hear everything going on in your house. Small people still barge into your room looking for things, asking you for things, and wanting to see your boo-boos.

While you rest, you try to yell helpful pointers from your bed. “Look at the schedule, I made it for a reason.” You will also annoyingly announce the time when you get up to use the bathroom. “It’s almost noon, guys. It may be time to clean up for lunch?” This habit makes you acutely aware of how high strung and irritating you actually are. Your family is unphased because they already know this about you.

While you rest, you realize that your body is taking a perfectly normal time to heal. You’re frustrated because you wanted to be ahead of the healing curve. You realize you don’t do rest well. You’re bad at resting.

While you rest, your husband will confide in you that he completely understands how fruitless your life can feel sometimes. That he feels like he is spinning his wheels and can empathize with some of your long-time frustrations. You cry again.

While you rest, you will overhear bonding and laughter and long to be a part of it. You’re sick of the books and television you carefully chose for this week. You miss the built-in entertainment of your crazy, joyful children.

No one cleans up while you rest. At least, not the way you expect them to. You wish you could jump out of bed and do it yourself, but you can’t. You cry over not being able to clean up. This is when you realize your medication must be affecting your hormones.

While you rest, your husband points out how ironic it is that you are always talking about how much you need a break, and now that you have to take one you don’t want it. The truth in this statement eases your irritation, just a little.

While you rest, your family will come to realize that the schedule you made IS ACTUALLY helpful. Just as you said it was. Hearing them utilize it on their own makes you happier than it should. You wonder when exactly you became a person who wants her family to utilize a schedule.

While you rest, you realize your family needs you. They need you because you put a lot of thought and work and love into your life together. But you can’t bear it all on your own shoulders. Your lives need to be all of you, working together. So when one goes down, the others continue to hold them up. Together.

While you rest, you learn how to be held up, cared for, and strengthened by your family. When you finally let go and lean on them, they hold you up. And they don’t even need to look at a schedule in order to do it.

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Jessica Johnson
Jess and her husband live in Providence with their 4 kids. Jess stays at home full-time with her tiny humans and is figuring out how to manage her home, manage her homeschool, and manage her own sanity. She is mostly convinced that 2 out of 3 is the best she can do! After the kids go to bed, Jess enjoys ice cream and Netflix. Or ice cream and a good book. Or just ice cream in a dark quiet room. Being a mom is a wild and unpredictable ride. While Jess has figured out that she cannot juggle it all, she can try to find joy in the small moments as her own family grows and evolves. Her life, (like her house) can be a mess sometimes, but Jess hopes her readers find encouragement in knowing they aren't alone in the challenges and triumphs of motherhood.