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  • Helen McNutt

Falling For My Family. Sort Of.

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

Two days ago I went for a run. Less than a minute after leaving the house I tripped over a tiny piece of pipe that I have safely run over a thousand times before. I crashed to the ground via a gate, and crumpled into a screaming heap on the ground. The pain in my knee took me out completely. I didn’t know whether to cry or faint or vomit. As my loyal dog Scarlett came to stand over me and the patch of blood on my leggings grew, all I could do was yell fuck, over and over again.

By some miracle Andrew happened to turn up in the tractor. In the few seconds it took for him to get to me he went from smiling to puzzled to worried as he went from thinking I was doing up my laces to having a heart attack.

He got me up then asked if I wanted him to scoop me up into the big bucket attachment at the front of the tractor. No thanks, I did not. I somehow hopped up into the cab and he dropped me home.

As he went out to pick up the children I sat in the lounge, leg up on a stool, knee merrily bleeding all over the cushions because I couldn’t get up to do anything about it. When the children got back they came flocking over like concerned little geese. On the way home from school Andrew and the boys had stopped at nursery to pick up Edie, where they’d been given a fairy cake each. Bear gave me the bottom half of his fairy cake. Raff gave me a third of a half of his, icing even still on. Bear offered to make me a wheelchair, and stroked my face. He made me a hot elderflower cordial then went out into the garden to pick raspberries to make me fruity water. Raff kissed my hand and brought me a breadstick, and not just a crappy broken one, a fully intact one, and therefore one of the most highly prized items in the house. Whenever I yelped out in pain Edie did heartfelt fake crying, getting her bottom lip to tremble and everything. Scarlett kept coming in to check on me.

Initially we thought I might have broken the kneecap, but it turns out it is just bruised and badly cut. Nonetheless it has been agony. I cannot bend, walk or drive. Putting on socks, sitting down, having a one legged bath are painful. It is impossible to wee with dignity. After a day of dragging my bad leg behind me, both knees and lower back feel like they’re on fire. I know this is nothing compared to what other people have to go through, but bloody hell, it hurts.

So there has to be a lesson here somewhere, yeah? And it was going to go a bit like this: Recently I have been getting upset about work, or rather my lack of it. I haven’t really succeeded in the way I want since the children were born seven years ago. The fall has been a big fat slap in the face to look at what I do have; from my dog to my husband to my three little snack obsessed children. For the last seven years my family has been my work, and it has turned out beautifully. It doesn’t make a difference to my bank account or CV, but it is the thing that makes my life so worth living. Even though I might not be where I want yet in my career, I do have a lovely family.

Then, as they usually bloody do, the next day came along. Bear refused to use cutlery to eat his breakfast, sucking up his scrambled eggs like a human anteater. Raff called Andrew a fat pig on the way to school. Edie took complete advantage of my lack of mobility by simply running away whenever I asked her to brush her teeth or get dressed, stopping only to turn and laugh in my face. In the waiting room of minor injuries Andrew told me I had bad breath, then later on made out I’d had a ‘relaxing’ day. Although I suppose I did get to sit on a trolley in a hospital corridor for quite a long time so, y’know...

The lesson must be this instead: My family is both delightful and appalling. As, I imagine, is yours. Although at least you probably don’t have to first find a pair of crutches to escape it.

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