I always used to cringe when I heard the word "empowered".  Because it sounded like a made-up word, and because it seemed to pop up in the whiniest of contexts.  Turns out it isn’t that new  of a word — it made the cut for my dad’s stodgy old collegiate dictionary, circa 1960.  And it turns out that there are decidedly non-whiny moments when it is just the right word.

    So today I took the doors off the cabinets below the bathroom sink.  The mystery ailment is slowly decreasing in mysteriousness, but certain secrets remain.  I get to see the orthopedist next week, and hopefully the veil will be lifted at that time. 

    (Why so long?  Not the evils of socialized medicine.  I just have a very low-intervention family physician.  And, I must grudgingly admit, the long, slow take-it-easy method has helped parse out the jumble of complaints.)

    In the meantime, though, I’m supposed to stay off my feet as much as possible.  This because at least part of the mystery — possibly the crux of it, possibly not — is a wayward femur.  The sort of disorderly femur that does not stay nice and steady in one snug spot in the hip joint.  (Is it the femur’s fault? Probably not.)   So when I walk too much, things hurt, and my leg gets numb.  Physician and P.T. agree, I should not do things that hurt or make my leg numb.

    As I’ve gradually pared down activities, there’ve been a lot of things that are pretty easy to outsource.  Children can do more housework.  A friend was very willing to pick up paid work as dance-class-day chauffer.  There’s a reason they have that long aisle of frozen meals at the grocery store.  No problem.

    But there’s a bit of internal tension on my part, because it’s one thing to make the kids clean the kitchen, it’s another to have them fetch and deliver every little thing a scattered-brained mother left at the far end of the house, and suddenly realized she needs, and can’t remember exactly where she put it. 

    And then, there’s a limited number of maternal walking minutes available each day, but no one really knows how many there are.   All we know is that it is very important not to use them up.   Is it okay to get up and go get a book?  For me, to read, all to myself, purely for my own entertainment?  Wasting valuable steps here, don’t want to do Permanent Damage on account of a little boredom, do we?  Especially while a hard-working SuperRelative is in the other room doing chores.  Major recipe for agonizing, self-doubting guilt-mania.

    Removing the cabinet doors under the bathroom sink makes it much more convenient to sit down while brushing teeth and all that, but the whole business of actually doing it uses up Valuable Steps.  And the SuperHusband has way more to do than he has time for, he isn’t exactly pacing the house at night begging for me to think up projects.

    And this is where the empowerment comes in: I got a wheelchair.   That fits.  Oh my goodness, the acts of contrition it is saving me.  Because now I can be in the bedroom, and look at the cabinet doors and realize I want them off, and I can just *go to the kitchen and get the screwdriver*.  Crossing the *entire house* in the process.  And cross the house again, take off cabinet doors.  And then! Get this! I realize I need a little ziplock bag to put the screws in, so I *go back to the kitchen*!  Just like that.   And then back to the bedroom to stow the screws and cabinet doors in the closet.

    And all this, while the Superhusband is at work and big kids are playing outside during the baby’s nap.  With no guilt.  Zero.  (Yes, I did have a certain awareness that I need to lay down some of the day.  But I’ve got a much better handle on that than on the step-ration. If I sit too much, I know it, I’m not agonizing over whether it’s too much or not.)  This is empowerment.

    And it gets even better.  Because then, after all this reckless crossing of the house,  I can realize that lunch leftovers are still out, and I can just get up and put them away, because I didn’t use up my step-quota on Some Other Task.   (My kitchen is not set up for a seated cook.)

   So that’s the news from the castle.  An empowered housewife.  Very nice.  No more sulking and despairing for me.  Everyone is happier.  Snake photos up next, if i can remember my photo-hosting location, and then I really will go lay down.