Involuntary reactions

There are certain phrases that should never be uttered with casual indifference. Today I encountered one of them. Somehow, over the course of conversation one of my coworkers dropped a bomb in the middle of the room when she unexpectedly announced that her sister had “separated her groin muscle” the previous evening.

My body violently recoiled as the words tumbled out of her mouth. My legs instinctively crossed as I doubled over, unable to suppress the genuine sympathy pains I was experiencing for a woman I had never met. Knees pressed together, I tried to stand up, but found myself facing an uphill battle against the rising tide of discomfort my body was conjuring in light of the information I had just been given.

I’ve been called a tough cookie more than once in my life. I might not be the strongest dame you’d meet at the gym, but as the saying goes, ‘mama didn’t raise a quitter’. My womanly frame has become acquainted with changing tires, brakes and rotors. I know my way around a table saw and certainly wouldn’t ever wait for help to arrive if I caught a wild hair and decided that a living room needed to be rearranged. Sometimes a piano just begs to be moved, or a queen sized mattress is overdue to be flipped and a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

I like to consider myself to be a capable gal and don’t generally flinch when facing a challenge. But motherhood changes a person in profound ways. My “sturdy birthing hips” have seen me favorably through the drug-free arrival of four children. But I’ve also done unintentional splits on more than one escalator trying to keep up with an eager child while staying connected to another more reluctant-to-board passenger. This mama has hung from a wire 35′ off the ground wearing a safety harness that left me regretting every happy meal I’ve consumed in the last two decades while simultaneously causing me to wonder if anyone else noticed the wholly unnatural cameltoe the harness left me sporting–all to make my teenage daughters proud. At this stage of parenting from the trenches I’m fairly certain that nary a kegel could help. Perhaps that’s why I found myself so affected by the mental image of a woman suffering in a deeply personal way.

Moms empathize. When our children hurt, we hurt. Those video compilations of skateboarder-handrail fails wreak havok on our bodies. When our comrades in this race of womanhood face affliction we feel the burn.

Suffering sister, I feel your pain. I may not know you, but I salute you (and your separated groin).

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