Tag Archives: Motherhood

Present Day; Post Chemo Moving Forward

Where have the last two weeks gone? A book signing event, an Abraham-Hicks workshop, a children’s birthday party, Canadian Thanksgiving celebration, day-trip to Salem, Mass., classes, homework, housework, third-grade basketball signups; pre-workout, reps, set, repeat, protein shakes, homework, doctor’s appointments, housework, massage therapy, Reiki, doing laundry that multiplies quicker than jack-rabbits, group meetings for class assignments, redecorating, parent/teacher conference, catching up on “The Vampire Diaries”… (breathe!)

Life is always an adventure when you’re a single mom. Especially when you have two, high-energy, extremely bright children.

My life is almost back to normal; my body feels stronger than it has since my cancer journey began. I’ve gained nearly 15 pounds since I was first diagnosed, since surgery, since chemotherapy treatments started. I am so thankful for the weight gain (as the song says, “I love my butt and I won’t shut-up!”). Thankful for chemo being over, thankful for my son…who just sat down at the table with me, and his laptop (my old computer) and said “Oh look at me! I’m all type-typey, nerdy-nerdy like my mom!” Then he began to button mash the keyboard, like a mad man playing the organ,  causing a fit of hysterical laughter. Love that kiddo of mine.

In the months to come, I have several follow-up appointments; oncology, surgical, nurse-practitioner of oncology, GI specialist, an ultrasound, a colonoscopy and lab work.

(Side rant: to those of you who keep putting it off…get it done! It has the potential to save your life, it saved mine. You don’t feel a thing. If you’re scheduled to have one or your doctor is recommending you do so, get ‘er done!)

To be sitting here with my son, watching my daughter play; it’s the greatest gift I could ever hope for. Cancer has taught me to prioritize, live fearlessly, love with my whole heart and make each day count.

Cancer was a much-needed catalyst for me.  I never would have pushed myself so hard to do so much. It’s unfortunate that it took getting diagnosed with cancer for me to change my life so drastically. But I am (and will always be) grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to do so. I’m one of the fortunate ones.

I never once questioned “Why is this happening to me?” But I do question so much else about it. When I see other cancer patients suffering, losing hair, losing hope; it breaks my heart. Especially pediatric cancer, it’s unbearable. When I look back at this year, it’s easy to admit just how difficult it was. Yet the energy has changed so much since the beginning of the year. There’s so much more than a road to perfect health before me.

Recently, I attended a book signing for “Buried Beneath the Words” author, Betel Arnold. We connected instantly. There were so many parallels in our lives. She saw herself in me; a young woman with hope and dreams bigger than the sky. She made direct eye contact and without blinking said, “You are destined for great things. I can see it all over you! I’m so happy for you and the path you’re on. You’re going to accomplish so much and I would really like to be part of it.” Her words moved a mountain within my spirit.

For the most part, I think my life is in pretty good order. It’s taken some time to find myself. Everyday is a learning process but living with gratitude has become a way of life, a state of being. I’m no super hero. Yes I have battled cancer, gone through chemo and am raising two children on my own while obtaining my bachelor’s degree. But I have my days just like anyone else. Having tough days is important for contrast. It gives me greater appreciation for the moments of joy; for the days when everything just seems to flow.

After going through chemotherapy for nearly eight months, even the bad days are a blessing. For every toddler temper tantrum and eight-year-old melt down, for every sink full of dishes and pile upon pile of never-ending laundry needing to be done; I’m truly thankful. These are days that I still get to be here for, experiencing the gift of life. The good and the not so good. Even when my children make me want to pull my hair out, I have to be thankful there’s still hair on this head to pull. It’s all about perspective.

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Gratitude, Day 25: Great Morning!

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DAY 25:

Thursday/October 2: 

This right here, is my goofy goober of a son. He is the sun, my Universe, one half to the whole of my heart.

He is also the grumpiest person I know in the morning, when it’s a school day. On this particular day my son got ready for school without the slightest hint of attitude, picked out his own clothes and ate breakfast…all without me having to tell him twenty million times.

It was so, and I mean incredibly so, nice to have such a great morning with him. He was still on cloud nine from buying school clothes the night before.  His behavior allowed me to stay in a vibration of gratitude. In fact, it amplified the feeling completely.

Part of parenting is learning to take it all in stride. Accepting the moments of sheer joy as well as those of frustration. You do the best you can with what you’re given. But ask any mother and she’ll tell you–when her offspring are cooperating it makes for heck of a thankful day!

Motherhood

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It’s nearly 2 a.m. and here I am blogging from the cargo space of my SUV. No really, I am.

I had this donation fund started on GoFundMe (awesome website for fundraising) to raise money to purchase a new vehicle. Something to call my own; I haven’t been in my own vehicle since 2005. Going through nearly nine months of cancer treatment made sharing a vehicle exhausting. Depending upon other people for transport became a frustration more then anything.

It’s taken over a month to get paperwork, registration and everything else in order. But this past Friday, mama’s new four-wheeled baby came home!

My son fell in love with our vehicle. So much so, that he convinced me we should camp out in the back of the SUV and watch a movie on my Mac. So now it’s nearly 2 a.m. and here I am blogging from the back of my vehicle.

Once you take out the car seat and stroller, move the privacy screen, move the seats down, open the moon roof and throw about four blankets down; it’s pretty darn comfy. Plus two, three, four…possibly five pillows and you’ve got yourself two snoring children and a rather comfy “Mommy blogger.”

Just finished watching “Mom’s Night Out” for the second time. First time all the way through, though, without having to tend to laundry or dishes or being distracted by the “Mom isn’t giving me full attention so I better do something to get it back” behavior of my children.

Motherhood is this crazy whirlwind of beautiful heartwarming moments, chaos, frustration, joy, bliss, happiness, did I mention chaos?  But those moments when you end up Hulking it out from your toddler’s temper tantrum or your eight-year-old’s incessant desire to negotiate everything from bedtime to what your daily activities will be…it’s all so worth it.

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There’s one particular scene from “Mom’s Night Out” (don’t worry, no spoiler alert needed here) where the main character (Alyson) is at a bowling alley with her husband and children. Aly’s daughter places her hands on her face, looks her in the eyes and says something to the effect of “I love you most of all.”

Being the over-emotional basket case I am when it comes to my kids (total helicopter parent, I’ve gotten somewhat better but let’s just say that I’m all about the “attachment method” of parenting…before I ever knew what that meant) I teared up at the scene.

My daughter does that all that time when she speaks to me. Every single time she places those little hands on my face and tells me how much she loves me–joy fills my spirit, my heart melts and I remember just how trivial those moments of insanity are compared to the moments of rapture.

Motherhood is not all rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. Sorry, but any woman who tells you that motherhood isn’t the least bit stressful, that her life is blissfully perfect and her child/children never push her buttons–either has a nanny or is a damn good liar. Sorry to call bullshit on that one but it’s the truth.

Being a parent is ten ties more amazing than it is difficult. It’s a learning experience for both parent and child. My son has told me (numerous times) how mean I am for making him play outside instead of letting him play video games all day. He’s also written me random notes; “You’re the best mom in the Universe” or “You totally rock!” He’s given me hugs out of the blue and come up to me to smother me in kisses. You learn early that it’s a constant balanjng act.

We (mothers) are all doing the best we can with what we’re given. Single moms, housewives, stay-at-home moms, moms of multiples and moms with an only child, adoptive moms, inseminated moms. We are all mothers one way or another, handed different circumstances in life. Parenting as best we can. United by the common bond of motherhood. United by all of the crazy disasters and loving moments filling our daily lives.

The point is not to beat yourself up when you screw up. Because guess what? We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. Like it or not, you will screw up at some point or another. Don’t waste time comparing yourself to Miss Susie Homemaker who looks like she’s got her shit together; kids are always behaved, clothes perfectly pressed, that mom who bakes designer cupcakes for PTO functions.

I’m sure as soon as she gets home the kids are running around like miniature marathon athletes. Picassos are painted on living room walls, furniture becomes a jungle gym, the house is filled with boisterous noise-makers–all wanting to get their way.

The conclusion? The only person you should be trying to better than is the person you were yesterday. That’s all that matters in the grand scheme of things.

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My kids are 8 and 3 and they both still sleep in my bed. Sometimes my son stretches the five-second-rule to ten seconds, my daughter isn’t fully potty trained at 3 (even though my son was at 2), they go to bed late some nights and take joy in destroying the wallpaper in my mother’s kitchen.  I embarrass my son with intentional, ridiculously awkward dancing in front of his friends.

But you know what? They always have healthy food to eat, a roof over their head, warm beds to sleep in (usually mine) and are fully aware of the unconditional love I have for them both. Both are physically thriving and intellectually advanced for their ages.

My kids drive me nuts sometimes. But I am grateful for every moment. For every tantrum, every melt-down, every “You’re the bestest Mommy ever!” and “I’m going to keep you forever” they tell me. I’m grateful for Crayola masterpieces drawn on living room walls, tea parties, messy bedrooms and a sink full of dishes.

These babes of mine are the spice and variety of my life. Every day is a new adventure (sometimes exhausting) but always always interesting. They’ve taught me to be young at heart, how important it is to be able to laugh at myself. Oh and to know the location of every bathroom at every store or restaurant we frequent.

My life is chaotic and constantly in a state of movement. But it’s a beautiful kind of chaos, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Gratitude Day 19: FaceTime!

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DAY 19:

Friday/September 26:

Friday, I was thankful for Facetiming with a good friend that I call my “sister from another mister.” She has a set of twins; some of the cutest, most adorable babies I swear I’ve ever laid eyes upon. She lives miles away, as in hundreds of miles away, but I think of her often and can’t wait for the day that I get to meet her little munchkins in person.

It means the world to me when we both, as busy busy moms of two, have time to video chat through FaceTime. It brought me so much joy to watch her twins interact with one another. Seeing for myself the stare of love and adoration that radiates from her son when he looks at her, listening to her daughter’s hearty belly laughs when her mom would tickle her.

I’m thankful for technology that allows us (and my other sisters from other misters) to keep in contact; FaceTime, text messages, social networking, home phones and cell phones. It brings part of my heart that much closer to home even though these inspiring ladies live miles away. Love ya woman!!!

Gratitude, Day 18: Family is Everything

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DAY 18:

Thursday/September 25:

There were so many moments of gratitude for me on Thursday. I can honestly say Thursday was the first day, in nearly a year, that I felt like myself again.

Before my cancer diagnosis I would cook 3 to 4 meals per week. This involved loud, booty shaking music being played, dance parties in the kitchen with my kids, “hip-bumping” with my boy and singing off key (loud and proud) with my daughter.

Dinners aren’t just sit-down family meals in our home. They’re a chance to laugh, play, share and bring my family closer together.

I’ve been so exhausted since treatment began that moments like these became scarce. I was still preparing meals, but not as frequently as before. And we surely weren’t dancing around the kitchen, as often, either.

Yesterday, though, was different. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. My children were so well behaved. Not only were they behaving for me but they were getting along with each-other as well. Which, if you’re a parent of multiples, you can totally appreciate.

Thursday night I cooked up some organic steak tips with garlic, onions and teriyaki sauce. Organic sweet corn and lemon-infused, Sicily-inspired, whole grain, non-GMO brown rice. (Sorry if I offend the vegetarians out there but yes I do enjoy steak and poultry. It’s always grass-fed, humanely-raised, organic beef that my son and I eat. My daughter is a born vegetarian and won’t touch the stuff.)

I brought my Mac in the kitchen and turned on my iTunes playlist. The song “Wobble” came on and my son came running into the kitchen to dance with me. He bumped his hip into mine, trying to see if he was strong enough yet to unground my feet with his motions. (The answer to that is “Nope, sorry little man, not even close!”)

My daughter was doing her own little dance; popping her hip out to one side while spinning in circles at the same time. My son’s face was overtaken by the infamous “duck face,” followed by ear to ear grins and self-confident head nods.

Once I finished cooking, and dancing, my son helped me set up the dinner table. “Mangia, mangia!” I told them as we all sat down once I fixed us our plates. We three, musketeers, me and my babes. My daughter raised her fork, giggled, then repeated, “Mangia, mangia!” The three of us held hands, as I said a prayer of gratitude; for the food we were about to eat, for the blessings of family, for allowing us to share in that moment. Oh, and my eight-year-old son? He gave thanks for there not being a zombie apocalypse 🙂

Gratitude Days 15 and 16

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TGIF! Well, I’m happy as a lark that today is Friday! It’s the one day a week that I have time to myself. My mother is off to work, both children are in school and I have about  two hours of time where there’s no one around but me and the dog! In fact, I think it’s the only time all week that you can hear a pin drop in our halls.

Without hesitation, I’ll jump right into my gratitude moments of this week. Which may be brief for time’s sake because I’d like to get a meditation or some Reiki in while I have the space to do it 🙂

DAY 15: Mommy and Me Yoga!

September 22: Monday morning was filled with emotions of gratitude. I was able to get my son to school on time while my daughter remained asleep. I had time for both a mindful meditation and a gratitude meditation before she awoke. Upon waking, my daughter had herself “some very special food” as she calls it, then we began yoga together.

The two of us rolled out our yoga mats, side by side, grabbed our yoga bricks and began in mountain pose. (First she had to get fitted into her bright pink neon and purple yoga pants of course!) She has one expressive personality.

It brought me so much joy to see her standing beside me, following the poses, creating a few of her own along the way. “See Mommy? I’m doing it just like you! That’s right, I’m doing very special yoga with Mommy!” Everything is “very special” in the playful and imaginative world of my daughter.

I’m so proud to be able to share common interests with her already. To be able to pass down a healthy, active lifestyle to her, teaching her to love who she is, feisty personality and all. It goes back to that Dove Soap video I shared in an earlier post. For my little girl to continue being the strong, independent, self-confidant, free spirit she is now–well into adulthood–that’s all I can hope for. I know she’s going to do great things, going to take this world by storm, make a difference for the greater good. I’m proud of her already, today and  each passing day.

DAY 16:

Tuesday/September 23: Tuesday was an exhausting day for me. Busy with school and my munchkins, homework and housework. Then my dad, aka “Super Pop-Pop” came over. He watched my children for at least two or three hours so I could rest. I was (and still am) so grateful to him for helping out with the kids.

Chemo may be over but there are lingering side effects from treatment. Exhaustion being one of them. Low platelets only exacerbate fatigue, add in a touch of my children’s recent respiratory virus’ and you have a recipe for one tired mama. I’m back to myself again today but was extremely grateful, Tuesday, to have extra help when I needed it. I was able to dose off for an hour or two, get some much needed rest, then had ample energy later that night for keeping up with Thing 1 and Thing 2!

Gratitude Day 14: Snuggles With My Boy

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This week has been such a blur. While I’ve had several moments of gratitude throughout the past four or five days, finding time to blog about them has been a bit of a challenge. It’s just been so busy–good busy–between classes, my children and everything else in between. It’s the everything else in between part that takes up a decent chunk of my time. Going here and there for my children to different appointments or scheduled activities, my own appointments, homework, making a bajillion phone calls to get this thing done or to move that thing along. The days I have a moment to breathe, a moment to take it all in, be grateful…I am so very thankful for those moments.

DAY 14 (Sunday/September 21):

My eight-year-old son is intellectually advanced for his age. I know I’m biased because he’s my son but this kid has been speaking in complete sentences since he was 18-months-old. He only spoke a few words here and there until he was a year and a half. Then he began daycare. Within one week, he was using full-blown sentences.

I was living in Colorado at the time; long distance phone calls to my mother were a daily occurrence. One day we were on the phone and she heard my son talking to me in the background. “Oh, is so and so over?” she asked. “Nope, that’s your grandson talking!” She was astonished at how his verbal communication skills had advanced so quickly. Maybe he was listening, in utero, all those times I read to him through my pregnant belly. Who knows really, but he’s sharp as a whip. His doctor told me that “he’s going to be a famous lawyer someday and buy you the house of your dreams.” In our family he’s known as “The Great Debater,” a child beyond his years who loves to make compromises in order to get his way. And believe me, this kid is damn good when it comes to bargaining.

Last winter, my mom asked my son if he wanted to make ten dollars shoveling a walkway out of her snow-covered back patio. He agreed, eager to make himself a few quick bucks. About half way through, he came into the house and said “Hey grandma, if I shovel the stairs off can you make it twenty?” My mother looked at him, wide eyes, trying not to laugh but also not wanting to shut him down. She said “How about I make it 15?” For nearly ten minutes they went back and forth, trying to come to an agreement as to how much he should be paid. They ended up settling when my mom told him it’s 15 or nothing at all. I do believe my son has met his match in wheeling and dealing when it comes to his grandmother.

He may be eight-years-old but, sometimes, I honestly feel like I’m raising a teenager. The issue with children who are so ahead of the learning curve, is that emotionally they’re still a child. But intellectually, they’re already years beyond their chronological age (words from his pediatrician). Which can make things like rule setting, and following, a challenge.

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My gratitude moment for Sunday occurred in the evening. My son didn’t give me the slightest bit of difficulty when it came time for bed. He talked me into watching a movie with him, even though it was a school night. Once we got all settled in and ready to watch the movie, he snuggled right up to me until he fell asleep.

I’m thankful that he’s still in the phase where he wants to spend time with me. He still loves cuddling with mom, which he probably wouldn’t be too thrilled about me sharing on a public blog! He also isn’t embarrassed to tell me he loves me out in public or give me a hug when I drop him off at school. Giving him a kiss on the cheek or forehead is a major no-n0 at school, but I’ll take what I can get. I usually end up laying a smooch or two on him anyhow, mom always wins!

One thing any parent can tell you, is that time spent raising children is always fleeting. Before you know it–you blink and they’re going into elementary school, getting their driver’s license or leaving the nest altogether. You have to cherish every moment before they’re grown. All those childhood memories build a foundation for who your child will become as an adult. Believe me, those trivial moments all add up. They’re some of the most wonderful moments for parents to experience but also some of the best memories your children will have.

Gratitude Challenge: Days 6 and 7

DAY 6: Time for Me!

My true “aha” moment for Saturday, rather my “ahhhh” moment, was at the end of the day. Saturday was another busy day. Is there ever really a day that isn’t busy when you’re raising two children?

It was the end of the night, probably around 9:30 p.m. or ten. Both Thing 1 and Thing 2 fell asleep entirely on their own after a day of hard play. My son had been a human ping-pong ball, bouncing back and forth between our house and the neighbor’s for most of the day. My daughter had been helping me sort through the endless pile of laundry, following me around as I did some light housework. I decided to take it easy after feeling pretty wiped out Friday night.

There’s this quiet moment, that as a mother, you learn to cherish–just as much as the noisy, rambunctious play of happy children. That was my gratitude moment. The house was completely quiet, not a peep, nor a snore or a creaky floor board. I was actually able to sit silently through an entire movie! An entire movie! The last time I was able to do that was months ago when I went out to the movies with one of my friends. To be able to pick a movie, one that doesn’t involve me having to say “cover your eyes,” “don’t watch this part,” “cover your ears” or “We can’t get this one, it’s not appropriate for you guys to watch.” HOLY HELL BATMAN! It was fantastic!

I love cuddling up to my munchkins and watching movies together as a family. But there’s something about that sacred time of silence and having time for yourself as a mom that is truly invaluable. You have to nourish yourself in healthy ways, otherwise you have nothing left to give your children. Between school, helping my son with his homework/school related assignments, my own homework, chemo, doctor’s appointments, family and everything else in between–it can be incredibly difficult for me to carve out time for myself. I get to go out and experience quite a bit but 99 percent of those times, my children are always in tow. It can be a real energy-drainer if I don’t take time to recharge my spirit.

Sunday morning the kids and I were able to sleep in for the first time all week. Heaven! It was sheer Nirvana. The only drawback to sleeping in is that I don’t always have the opportunity to meditate in the morning. Once my children are awake, they’re ready to take on the day…full throttle. But I knew I needed to start my day off right. Since both of my kiddos woke up in such a great mood, I figured I would seize the opportunity. I let my son know that I needed about 15 minutes of alone time to meditate. Being so used to my “not your typical mom” antics, he said “oh okay, let me know when you’re done.” My daughter is the tricky one. I never know if she’s going to be understanding or climb all over me like a human jungle gym.

“Mommy is going to meditate, so you need to be very very quiet. Okay?” She looked at me with those big brown eyes, long curly lashes and said “Okay Mommy” in her raspy little Michelle Tanner voice. Which brings me to my gratitude moment of Day 7.

DAY 7: Many Blessings

I lay in bed, settling into my zen place Sunday morning. I was about half way through my meditation, totally in my happy place. I could hear the pitter patter of tiny feet stomping heavily upon the floor as my daughter ran back and forth between my room and the living room. About halfway through my meditation, I felt the tiny tickle of a button-nose on my cheek. My eyes remained closed but I could feel my daughter begin to smile as I started laughing. The more I laughed, the more Eskimo kisses I was given. Then a big “Muah!” as she kissed my cheek, followed by more of her hearty giggles. I could hear her over the music playing in my earbuds, “This is so much fun Mommy!” Laughter truly is the best medicine!

She lay down next to me, took a few deep breaths, then dramatically threw herself on me. She wrapped her chunky little arms tightly around mine, squeezed me with a bear hug and smiled. “I love you so much Mommy.” My heart melted like plasticware stuck to the bottom of the dishwasher rack.

That was how my day began. There were so many beautiful instances of gratitude yesterday. The weather was perfect–clear blue sky, beams of warm sunlight shining down. A cool breeze blew through the patio wind chimes, making my heart smile. After using, and slightly altering, my older brother’s cinnamon pancake recipe–I disconnected my son from his X-Box console. He reluctantly got ready to go to the park with his sister and me. Once we got there though, he didn’t want to leave.

Another gratitude moment from Sunday, was having the strength and energy to run around the playground with my children. Some days, especially during the week of chemo, it can be really hard for me to keep up with the kids. All I want to do is sleep or lay on the couch for hours. But I don’t always have that option unless my folks are around to help out. Fatigued or not–I still have to cook dinner, do laundry, help with third grade homework assignments, buy groceries, have tea parties, play board games. If I don’t do most of these things, my kids are missing out. Just because I’m a cancer patient, doesn’t mean that my children should have to sacrifice their childhood. It’s bad enough that they’re going to have memories of me being in the hospital connected to IV lines, seeing me tired, dizzy, nauseas and grumpy. They should get to play, have fun, enjoy their childhood no matter what. You blink and then you’re grown, it’s time you can’t get back.

Hopefully they know how much I enjoy spending time with them. How loved they are. I always explain it to both of them. When I’m too tired to play a game or read a story before bedtime, “It’s not that I don’t want to do those things with you because I really do. It’s just that mom is too tired right now but we’ll (play that game, read that book, go to a particular place) as soon as I’m feeling rested again.”

My son has been incredibly understanding for an eight-year-old. My daughter has been as well, even though she’s three. The nights I’m too exhausted to read, my daughter will say “It’s okay Mommy, I’m going to read to you. Is that a good idea?” Both of my children are such old souls, though, beyond their years intellectually. My mom used to hear the same thing about me as a child, so it’s no wonder I guess.

My daughter interrupting my morning mediation was by far the best gratitude moment of my day, though there were several others. One of my aunts, who I haven’t seen in years, came to visit. My mother cooked up an amazing meal. Double gratitude there because we had ribs, mashed potatoes and Lebanese style green beans…and I didn’t have to cook any of it. My mother took care of everything, It was so nice being served for once. It’s tiring when you have to do the cooking, cleaning and dishes every time you cook. Which, for me, is three to four times a week.

It was a great weekend, spent laughing and reminiscing with family. This week, I’m supposed to finish up my twelfth and final chemo treatment on Wednesday. I still have sessions seven through eleven to blog about, luckily it’s all written down in my writer’s notebook. It’s been one mind-blowing, spirit-enlightening journey for certain! I’m eager to see what the week will bring 🙂