Other Than the Pain by Chaya Houpt

Here’s this week’s exquisite post from my favorite fellow mommy blogger, Chaya Houpt of All Victories.

My body is working fine. My muscles, my nerves, my respiratory system, my brain. All functioning and thriving.

My mood is joyful, serene. I have energy and inspiration.

Only—my leg and part of my back are in constant pain right now. And while I am pursuing healing and relief in various ways, I can’t be sure when or how or if it will end.

The other night I was lying in bed, trying to sleep while the pain noodled around in my leg. I thought, how can I relax, how can I sleep when I am feeling this way?

So I started considering all the parts of my body that were functioning normally, without pain, starting with my good leg. And as I ran my mind over all the healthy, comfortable parts of my body and my mind, peace overtook me, and then sleep.

In my relationships, particularly with my kids, whatever is painful or dysfunctional seems to eclipse the good, to obliterate it. Lying in bed recovering, I watch these tiny people buzz around me and see that they are beautiful, that they have humorously precocious vocabularies, that their make-believe is endlessly entertaining. That they love each other and that they are beginning to grapple with life’s big questions. How much do the tantrums, the bedtime struggles, the sibling violence figure into that equation?

Also, my mother and stepdad just came for a visit. My mom and I had a lot of fun together, walking around Jerusalem and looking in stores—our favorite shared activity. It was a joy showing my parents my little corner of Jerusalem and hearing their stories about past trips here. My children were in heaven with their Grammie and Grandpa, and it was mutual.

And yet my mother might agree (and will probably weigh in through the comments), that experiencing the visit that way, as wholly positive, is a constant effort. Nothing is more fraught and multilayered than the parent-child relationship, as I continue to discover on both ends.

I aspire to know that I am growing and becoming greater through my physical pain, through the ways my children test me, through the challenge of being a responsible and respectful daughter. But in the meantime, I am not even contending with that part of the picture.

I am setting aside the hurt leg and meditating on the strong arms, the quick mind, the husband who hangs the laundry because I can’t, the mushy kiss on the cheek, the “air fist bump” from a stepfather determined to respect my religious boundaries, the perfect candlesticks that my mother couldn’t help purchasing just because I loved them and she loves me. The sunrise over Jerusalem that makes me squint and tear up. Thank You. Thank You.


  1. what’s this? I’m crying?! but why…
    your gratitude is just so moving.
    (but i’m worried about your pain)(that’s the yiddishe mama in me)

  2. Please try NO sugar for one month, it may turn everything around : )

  3. Elana Greenspan

    hi chaya, I had terrible sciatica after the birth of one baby. Sometimes it would also get set off during pregnancy. the post-pregnancy sciatica I was able to relieve momentarily with about 600 mg of Motrin, just so I could function – when it was so unbearable I cou;dn’t even walk. I got myself to a chiropracter and that helped. After the pain eased up a bit, I found that yoga helped, even though it seemed impossible even to think about at the time. stretching it out and strengthening the back and core muscles has kept it away BH for three years. whenever there is a tinge I go back to yoga. Hatzlacha and refua shelayma! I love your writing. Elana G.

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