There was a meme going around called “10 things motherhood gave me”. I have tons of opinions on that: stretch marks, saggy boobs, under-eye bags, my first experience of having someone poop down my shirt, all the best parts.
But the more I thought about it, I decided that I was better writing “10 things being the mother of a cancer child gave me”. This has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. I’m no one’s idea of the perfect mom, I’m a lousy housewife, I’m a mediocre soccer mom, but this life-altering experience has left a change in me that is astounding. I’m still a lousy housewife and a mediocre soccer mom. The way having a child changed the way I looked at MY life, having a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness changed the way I looked at life as a whole.
Here goes: 10 things being the mother of a cancer child gave me
1. I’ve learned not to care what people think of my appearance. Not that looking nice isn’t important, but I’ve also learned that on the bad days, it’s ok to wallow in it. When I’m walking down a heavily populated hospital hallway, in my sweatpants and bathrobe, my hair hasn’t been brushed in 2 days, there might be some puke on my shirt and I’m wearing hospital issued footies…I’m proud. Because I got out of bed AT ALL today.
2. I’ve learned that it’s ok to walk away from it all and take a breather. Even though you feel guilty because your child doesn’t have the choice to take a break, and you feel like the worst parent in the world….I have to take care of me too. It’s something I heard a lot when I had a newborn, take time for you. I didn’t realize how hard that was until I was sitting on the floor of my closet, with the light off, holding the door shut with my daughter on the other side begging me to let her in. Sometimes you just have to leave and breathe so you can pull yourself together.
3. A phone call where you say nothing profound is sometimes better than no call at all.
4. I’ve accepted that I can’t do it all myself. I can’t really do 50% of it myself. I’m not ashamed to ask for help, to accept help and to be truly grateful for it. I learned that people who find themselves outside of the situation often want to help, but have no idea what to do. I’ve learned to just accept the generosity and compassion of others that allows them to help carry the burden we bear. And be eternally thankful that people care enough to WANT to help us. I have learned humility and pride at the same time.
5. I am no longer embarrassed to cry in public, I can hug a newly introduced person, I bare the most intimate parts of my soul for contrast and comparison. It helps, it’s like free therapy.
6. I understand that it’s ok to be angry with God, to vent your frustrations and anger at the situation you’re in. It’s impossible not to be full of all these negative emotions when you see such pain and suffering and loss happening all around you. When you can’t even comprehend a loving God that would let a child, any child, MY child, get sick and die, how do you not get belligerently furious with God. I also understand that God lost a child, watched him die a painful awful death. He gets that anger.
7. Being able to find the laughter in life, regardless of whatever you’re going through is a blessing. No matter how bad it is, there are always moments of joy, moments meant to lighten and soothe. If I can’t laugh, I might as well give up. People are kind enough to say that they like the positive attitude of our site, that they admire my ability to be funny in the middle of it all. Let me tell you, in the middle of it all is where it’s most important to laugh.
8. It doesn’t matter how smart someone thinks they are, what they feel is the right way to parent a child, no matter how educated their opinion, it doesn’t mean that they know what’s best for your child. I’ve had to shrug off overly opinionate strangers who felt I should take Peyton’s binky away, I’ve handled the LOOKS when I tell that Peyton crawls in bed with me EVERY night, I let her eat black olives and oranges for breakfast if that’s what she wants. I’ve also seen the horrified stares when I got on her case in a store for being ugly and hateful. How dare you bark at a cancer kid!? You know what? It’s my cancer kid and I have to live with her long after the cancer’s gone, so get out of my face!
9. I’ve become an oncologist, a research assistant, a personal chef, a therapist, a patient, a better friend, a more accepting mom, a pharmacist, a writer, a full-time-work-from-home-but-still-unpaid-mom, a referee, a coach, a nurse, an event organizer, an advocate, a charity taker and giver, and a motivational speaker.
10. I have strength in my heart, spirit and faith that I never knew I possessed. I’m very proud of it. The day Peyton was diagnosed I knew that I would fail her, I would not be able to handle this and she deserved a mother who could get her through it. I feared every day was the day I would lose it and become the person I most feared: a mom who was less than her children needed in every way. Yet, no matter how bad the day, how raw the pain, how real the fear…I’ve found my way through prayer, belief, faith and love.
f.r.o.G…fully relying on God
Late added ps…I’m going to challenge each of you who falls into one of these two categories to take the time to do the same. “What motherhood gave to me” or “What being the mother of a cancer child gave me me”. I would love to see them! email@example.com