We made it through the first round of chemo. I’m not “all better” yet, but I think the worst of the symptoms are over. Am I naive in saying that? I guess we’ll find out. Chemo makes you sick and I can deal with that, but I’m struggling with my kids knowing how badly I feel. I don’t want my kids to worry about me or think I’m weak and unable to care for them. Although, I guess that is what’s happening.
Many years ago, when Zoey was a baby, my husband and I planned a night out with friends. As I left my baby at my mom’s house, she said, “you aren’t going to get so drunk that you can’t parent tomorrow are you?” “Gawd, mom! No.” I guffawed back. Geez!! (I was able to parent, but really badly and with a lot of help from my au pair, Le Television.) Zoey had no idea I was a sub par parent that day or on any day that I haven’t been 100%.
So what will happen now? They know. I already told them. Jim and I sat them down and told them, I have some lumps in my breasts. And the lumps are full of bad cells that can hurt my body. So I have to get some medicine called Chemotherapy or Chemo. The Chemo is going to make me sick-like I’ll be tired, and maybe my belly won’t feel well. And then my hair will fall out.
Zoey says, “so you’re going to get cancer?” Yes. I reply. It’s called breast cancer.
Emmet wants to know why I would take medicine to make me sick. Isn’t that funny, I say.
I want to know if they will be okay.
I know they will. But I also know this experience will make a mark on their lives. Their paths will be guided by this period of time. Things that happen now, will give them insight and perspective on certain things in the world.
For certain, they will see the Power of Community. They already do. They see it in the meals that people bring to our home, accompanied with little gifts for them or adorned with mashed potato frosting on top of their meatloaf. They see it when their best friends’ mom gives them an extra snuggle at the sleepover and makes sure they know they are always welcome and invited. They see it when their cousin picks them up from school and brings them to the bakery followed by some extra special play time at the playground instead of going straight home where mom is sick in bed. They feel it in their dance classes and at child care and in school.
Sometimes I visualize my little family walking around in a bubble of white light with all kinds of people standing around it with their arms out making sure it’s headed in the right direction and that it won’t pop!
They will learn that sometimes, life is hard. They will have disappointments. I’m currently worried that my surgery will fall around the time of my children’s dance recital and I’ll have to miss it. Maybe it won’t and maybe I will be fine. But whether it’s a dance recital, a school event, a concert. I’m going to miss something that I should be there for. It’s not because I don’t love them, it’s because I won’t be able to. That will be hard.
They will have to grow up a little bit. Jim and I do a lot for our kids. Emmet will only let me put his shoes on, even though they are Velcro. Zoey likes us to put the toothpaste on her brush. “Go to bed” means that Jim and I still have to recite what steps it takes to put them to bed. They are going to have to figure some of this out on their own.
Last night, after I had been in bed for most of the day, Zoey met me in the bathroom as she was getting ready for bed. She put her hand on my back and led me back to my own bed, where she then tucked me in. A few minutes later, she brought her Henry and Mudge book in and she read to me until I fell asleep. I woke up when Jim was picking her up to move her to her own bed and she was nestled into my body, my arm around hers.
I know they are going to be alright. They aren’t going to think I’m a sub par parent. They will still see me as a good mom who just needs a little more help right now. And if I’m not there I hope you can cheer extra loud for them, from me.