One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned through this bout with cancer is that I can’t be the perfect mother. When you are a mom, you want to know that you are protecting your children and guiding them appropriately. You want to be attuned to their needs. You want them to be happy and content. However, when you are battling a vicious disease–one that doesn’t care if you are a mom with a busy schedule and a to do list….you have to accept your human-ness. This is hard.
I’ve been beating myself up over the fact that I HAVE to focus on beating cancer–and that focusing on me is counter-productive to taking care of and watching over my boys. I WANT to know they are adjusting to their new environment and finding their way. Yet I don’t have the mental strength to be “here” for them in this moment. I HATE this about cancer.
Today I received wonderful news–news that makes me jump for joy and feel grateful for the blessings I’ve been given. Meanwhile, I carry terrible guilt for the lack of awareness I’ve possessed while my eight year old is struggling to fit into his new environment. I’ve been so wrapped up with thoughts of “clear margins” and “chemo” and “radiation therapy”, I haven’t been discussing his feelings with him for three weeks. I’ve been physically here but mentally miles away. I feel terrible. I wonder if he will remember this time and feel resentment that his mother wasn’t available to him because she had checked out of September.
Last night, he came into my room and found me laying on my bed crying. I was frustrated with the lack of information about the pathology reports after my surgery. I was in pain because my incisions hurt with every little move. I was miserable because my head was stuffy and breathing was labored. I was mad at the world for my circumstances. I felt so helpless and ashamed that I couldn’t be stronger in front of him. The last thing I wanted to do was scare him with a mom that was falling apart at the seams.
Do you know what happened? That sad little eight year old looked up at me with big brown eyes full of sadness and stroked my arm. He hugged me and told me he loved me. We sat there in silence—both feeling a little beat up by life. I realized that he was taking care of me and that he was going to be alright. I wasn’t perfect. To him, it didn’t matter. I couldn’t believe the grace he was showing me. Me, the mother who hadn’t been available when he talked about class, the new pet in his classroom, the friends he missed. The mom who couldn’t shut her brain off researching breast cancer and its every nuance.
Even now, I am struggling that I’m not the mom I thought I would be. It will have to be enough. The manual of perfect cancer mom doesn’t exist. I’m gonna let her go….