When I was a child, I was a worrier. I was born an "old soul" and at times I was the most mature person in my house, no joke. My parents were young parents with 3 children and like all of us, bills, bills, bills. So the way to manage that with childcare was for one parent to work days (dad) and one parent to work nights (mom).
When my mom left to work at night, I would often lay awake worried about her - would she get to work without having a car accident, would she come home in the morning. I guess being a kid and needing ones mom is just ingrained in you and night time is always when the boogeyman comes out - for me the boogeyman was this fear that it was nighttime and she was not home. I was under 10 years old and I see it with my own kids - at nighttime, they need to know I am home to reassure them.
One November night when I was almost 15 years old, we got a phone call at home from the police telling us that she had been in a car accident. Being a teenager and the aforementioned old soul, I immediately jumped in the car with my dad to go see what was going on. My grandparents were at this time living with us and they stayed with my younger brothers. In my mind, I imagined she was laughing and going to scoff at us for rushing to the hospital. I guess it did not connect if that would be the case that she would have called us ourselves (or not as she and my dad were estranged at this point).
When we got to the hospital, I was able to sneak in to the Emergency Room on my own while my dad spoke to doctors and what I saw was just the culmination of those fears from years ago - my mom was mangled and bloody and unconscious (spoiler alert - she survives the accident but with broken bones and internal bleeding that led to the loss of an unimportant organ). It was the shock of being faced with what was just a bad nighttime dream but it was real.
Fast forward 25 years and on a day in November, I as a mom of young children am diagnosed with breast cancer. I could not help but see the connection of what it feels like as a child to see your parent incapacitated or, in your mind, near death and how my children would handle knowing I had a disease that could potentially (God forbid) lead to death.
Life does not always go the way you expect - you think, as a parent, I will not make the mistakes my parents made and then you get hid with something beyond your control which in a way makes you realize you could wind up with a similar result. There is more to my story from childhood but I am not willing to put it all here in a blog but even with the broad strokes of the story, you can paint a picture.
I was the uber mom - the one who was 150% on top of everything, managing the children and making sure they knew they had me for anything they needed. And now, I have had to pull back and not be uber mom but just basic mom. I have had to focus on myself and surviving surgery, chemo and now even with the relative "ease" of daily radiation, I am still not 100% myself.
I still have to hang back and hold on to my energy. I also have recognized that my children can bloom more without me hanging all over them all the time and that I, too, need to have some me time -something I never ever would have admitted before for fear it would make me a "bad mom".
There is no such thing as a "bad mom" - there are sucky life circumstances like car accidents and cancer diagnoses that make people have to rethink how they are raising their children and how to then make the children feel secure again. It is like when you break a vase and repair it no matter how good the glue is and how expert your hands are at putting the pieces back together, you can still see the cracks. As a child, once you realize your parents are not immortal, it is shocking even if you are older when you first realize it.
I am hoping that this experience will lead to my children to be resilient and strong much like my childhood left me being resilient and strong. I do wish they never had to see me so weak and "ill" as I was during chemo and that they did not have to wrap their head around how much they hear about cancer killing people so that they too could have extended their childhood bliss for more years but that was not to be the case.
Instead, they know that I am 100% human and also a strong, bad ass, kick ass woman who survived a mastectomy, 8 rounds of chemotherapy (while working full time) and now daily radiation all to defeat cancer. I hope and pray that years from now, they realize that we are all superheroes - them for dealing with this at such a young age, me for being strong enough to fight with a smile on my face and everyone around us for stepping up and being there for us during this time, including those two little brothers of mine who I always helped and protected as a kid, well, when I was not yelling at them.
This is what I think about during the time between and wanted to post it to share how life throws you curve balls and you need to be able to catch it and throw it back.
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