It turns out I don’t do I can’t

Here’s the deal. I know it’s two weeks from Thanksgiving and I “should” be writing about all things Thanksgiving.  But I can’t.  Why? As it turns out, I don’t do well with “I can’t.”

Since I can’t do I can’t, I’ve decided to jump out of an airplane and do outrageous things instead.  Want to join me?

i don't do i can't header

I want to write about Thanksgiving.

I planned to.  My blogging planner has a ton of great ideas penciled in. (Today was SUPPOSED to be a caramel granola that would make the perfect topping for a cranberry and apple baked dessert.)

But every time I try to write about holiday stuff, I come smack up against reality and end up in a temper tantrum.

Right now, my reality doesn’t include beautiful photo spreads of cranberry sauce, smoked turkey, and caramelized brussels sprouts. It doesn’t include a hand crafted wreath of living herbs for my front door. It doesn’t include polishing the heritage silver and crystal.

I wish it did. I could use the Pinterest traffic from those photos.


My big culinary achievement this week was a tie between boiling water (I made spaghetti using frozen meat sauce) and starting a fire (I got the charcoal started to grill something from the freezer).

Y’all, this knee thing stinks.

It’s been two weeks since my surgery. I had NO IDEA how much time I’d spend getting over that stinking surgery. Between physical therapy sessions, the home P.T. I’m doing, and all the time I spend with my knee propped up and iced I’m losing several hours a day.

I went to church Sunday and had to spend the rest of the day in bed.

We won’t talk about the grocery store or the fact that I haven’t been to Target in over two weeks.

So every time I start trying to plan for Thanksgiving, I run up against my big list of “I can’t do it yet.”

(For what it’s worth, I think the official Thanksgiving plan involves showing up at my moms house with a bottle of wine in each hand.)

It turns out that I don’t do I can’t.

I cried my way through a good part of P.T. yesterday because there was something I couldn’t do.

Specifically, I can’t stand up or sit down without using my hands or doing something weird with my hips. I kept trying until I was exhausted. I wasn’t crying from the pain, I was crying in pure frustration and anger that I couldn’t manage to do something as simple and straight forward as standing up.

I’m good at faking “I can’t.”

I know, it doesn’t make sense. When my kids are around, I’m really good at letting them bring me ice for my knee. I’m good at asking them to bring me a glass of water or start a load of laundry.

I’m fabulous at avoiding heavy lifting and deep cleaning activities.  I’m not touching the vacuum cleaner or taking out the trash any time soon.



I stink at the actual “I can’t.”

What I stink at is the stuff I think I SHOULD be able to do but can’t.

I think I should be able to dance with joy with my children. I can’t (yet) and it makes me mad.

I think I should be able to ride a bike. I can’t even make the pedals go around on the stupid stationary bike in P.T.  Not yet.  But I will soon!

You get the idea. My list of things I can’t quite do yet is huge, and every one of them irritates the snot out of me.

I don’t do “I can’t.”

In my head, I’m still young and energetic and able to bend my knees. The part of me that makes up my to-do list every day, sets long term goals, and dreams is about 22. Unfortunately, the rest of me is 47, out of shape, and recovering from knee surgery.

Y’all, this aging thing stinks.

I don’t think of myself as old. (Clearly, I still think of myself as 22. Given that my boys are eight and nine, there are a few logical flaws with my mental age. But work with me.)

Since I’m not “old” yet, I know I’ll recover from the knee thing. Sometime in the next few months I’ll be back to dancing with my kids and chasing them around the yard with the water hose.

But at some point, I’ll get old.

At some point in the far future, my “I can’t” list will grow again.

If the past two weeks are any indication, I’m going to be really bad at getting old.  Right now, my “I can’t” list is really an “I can’t YET” list.

But someday… the word YET gets replaced with the word ANYMORE.

don't let your i can't YET be replaced with i can't ANYMORE

(That’s my new official definition of “old” – when YET gets replaced with ANYMORE.)

I’m probably going to one of those blue haired old ladies who jumps out of airplanes and breaks a hip doing something embarrassing.  Why?  Because I can.

Don’t tell me I can’t because I don’t *DO* “I can’t.”

Sorry kids, this mom is NOT going to age gracefully. I see some purple spandex leopard pants in the distant future.

Share with me!  What outrageous thing do YOU wan’t to do in old age?  Shall we start planning our adventures now?


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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. After my car accident in 2006, I crushed my right ankle to the point that I had to have four screws put into it to put it back together. The doctor told me I’d never walk again, I looked at him and said, “you don’t know me to well then.” I was walking again within 4 months. I’m just now to the point where my ankle is strong enough to do some slow running. However, I want to run again before I die. I want to feel the wind blowing my hair and be able to race against my kids and dog. (Racing my dog was one of my favorite past times.)

    So, I totally get your frustration! I get wanting to do something and knowing that one day it will happen, but’s not happening near fast enough for your liking. I get the fear that you don’t want to admit out loud. I get the insecurity of wondering if your family/friends are getting tired of helping you. There are going to be ten thousand feelings that are going to race through your mind.

    Please remember to NOT make the mistake I made and try to rush progress… because even if you feel FINE now, there may come a time that you have total relapse and have to go through all of the physical therapy part even worse than what you’re doing now. Plus have twice the pain. Plus many people end up having to do knee surgery again because they become too impatient.

    Know I love ya (as a friend/not a stalker ;)) , and am thinking of you as you go through this.
    Crystal Green recently posted..Top New Year’s Resolutions for ParentsMy Profile

    • Crystal I had no idea you’d been through so much! Wow.

      Given that my physical therapist is telling me to slow down and not push myself so hard, I suspect your advice is EXACTLY what I need to hear. pbbbbt.

      My kids expected me to be 100% better the day after surgery. It’s hard for them to understand that I’m not. My husband understands, but he forgets just how much physical labor is involved in my daily tasks. Sorting laundry sounds easy until you think about how many times you rock back and forth or lean over as you stand there tossing stuff into baskets. Same for cooking. I can do it, but I’m slower than Christmas and it wipes me out! I hate not being able to do all the stuff I know I need to do (much less the stuff I WANT to do) but I know I need to be patient
      Susan Baker recently posted..It turns out I don’t do I can’tMy Profile

  2. Surgery and family at the same time is difficult to handle. I met a car crash 4 months ago and ended up having an elbow replacement. even after repeated efforts, my husband and in laws fail to understand that I cannot lift and do hardcore work like before. But they do not understand. What hurts most is that the person whom you love from whole heart, my husband, how could he become so merciless?
    It’s not been easy since then. Not physical but the mental stress is what is making me sick.

    • I’m so sorry that you’ve had a tough go of it. Have you ever wanted to just order a shirt that says “it still hurts! please handle with care” I’d love one. 🙂

  3. I can’t even imagine how difficult knee surgery must have been and how difficult it is now to not be able to do the things that you normally do. You think, “oh I’ll get a break for once!” but then you realize that you aren’t able to do anything! I’ve also been in this situation when I had back surgery and I was so frustrated! I’m not ready to grow old yet.

  4. My mom had a hip replacement surgery five years ago and she had to learn the basics again. I think more than the physical support, my mom got better because we were always there to cheer her up and to support her emotionally, especially during the times when she was feeling sorry for herself because she had to depend on us for most of her needs during the first month. My mom decided that it was better for her to lose weight in order to ease the tension in her hips and knees. You can get through it and it does get better.

  5. The first time I read this I find it confusing but then when I read it the second time I find it amusing. There are a lot of things I learned from this. Thanks for posting!

    • So the moral is, before commenting on anything understand it first. :). It was a real joy reading this post. We CAN while we just give up telling we CAN’T. 😀

  6. The phrase “don’t let ‘I can’t yet’ be replaced with ‘I can’t anymore'” should strike most of us, and prompt us to dream big and accomplish those dreams. If we shoot for the roof, we will land in the trash can; if we shoot for the stars, we will land on the roof!

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