As Mother’s Day approaches us once again, I felt compelled to re-post my blog from Mother’s Day 2011. For my new blog followers, this was in the beginning of my breast cancer battle, and I have made a promise to my kids that we are going to do something cool for Mother’s Day each year now. A reverse Mother’s Day. If you read my blog below, you will have a better understanding of what I mean. For my friends and blog followers from during my fight – you know that on Mother’s Day I will tell my kids about the cool thing we will do this year to celebrate our reverse Mother’s Day. This year we will celebrate it on July 21 and what we are doing is a surprise until Sunday. Last year we took a hot air balloon ride over the mountains in Asheville. That was a very cool day ! So, please stay tuned for Mother’s Day 2013, and you can read, right along with my kids, about the next adventure we will take to celebrate the two best kids in the whole wide world…..please read below from May 2011.
Today is a Mother’s Day, for me, like no other. I am constantly aware of my body and all it tells me every single minute of the day. What is hurting, what is healing, what I am eating and how it agrees with me (or not), am I touching my face, mouth, or eyes without having washed my hands ? It is exhausting, and a bit self-centered, but necessary as my white blood count continues to return to normal this week. I am also waiting and watching for my hair to fall out. This is the exact detail of my life today that makes me reflect back to Mother’s Day fifteen years ago.
Mother’s Day 1996. My brothers were in and out of the state visiting and caring for my Mom. Hospice was at my Mom’s house every day. My children were young and we were a very young busy family. My children did NOT want to go to their Grandmother’s house each day because they were constantly told to be quiet (Grandma’s sleeping), be calm (Grandma’s sick), stay inside, stay outside, dinner won’t be till later, stop going in and out….the small kid drama continued…
I believe my Mom was still coherent on Mother’s Day that year. She was beyond wearing head covers because she was so sick so we began seeing my Mom as the very sick, bald, dying woman that she was. My brothers were coming to town and bringing their kids sometimes too – so my kids thought some of those visits were a big family party. I remember during one dinner we kept hearing the kids outside the kitchen door laughing and this strange pinging sound. The sound continued on and on. My father finally got up to see what the kids were doing and then the yelling started. Our children ( I think there were 5 of them that day, all under the age of 5) were picking up handfuls of gravel from the driveway and tossing them at my Dad’s brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee. My Mom slept through it all.
Between Mother’s Day 1996 and Memorial Day 1996 were the longest days of my family’s life. My Mom had a bilateral mastectomy years ago, she had a blood clot in her groin so her leg died – it was cold and dark purple. She was very very sick and her mind had really started to do strange things because her breast cancer had moved to her liver. Her liver wasn’t functioning correctly anymore and her mind was being altered and poisoned. The beautiful woman we all grew up with and loved was gone. Already.
I wish I had taken the time to have heart-felt long talks with my Mom during the point that she was still coherent, but I didn’t. I just could not face the fact that my Mom was leaving me. Avoidance was my only mode of survival so I could continue on and take care of my children. I couldn’t even begin to picture my life without my Mom, so I didn’t. I knew that if that outer shell cracked and accepted all of what was happening before she died, I probably would not be able to function. At all. I knew at that point many huge life changes were on their way, my marriage was over, my mom was dying, I was really not “employed” because I was a stay at home Mom, and I was speeding full force toward being a single parent, without the support of my Mom. I was going to be totally and completely alone, with two small children whom I loved with all of my heart. I remember having THAT talk with my Mom and she was extremely saddened by the fact that my children were going to be from a broken home. She begged me to fix that, change that path somehow, stay in the marriage for the children, but I just couldn’t. I could only focus forward and focus on doing what was necessary to get my children through losing their Grandma, a pending separation/divorce, moving out of our house, me going back to work full-time, them changing schools….it was so overwhelming that I could only focus on one day at a time or I would have had a total breakdown.
Every Mother’s Day, since we lost my Mom, the kids and I only celebrated simply, if at all. They would make me a card, maybe get me a small gift, maybe they would make me a bagel or toaster strudel for breakfast. But we never had big celebrations on Mother’s Day, nor did we attend any that we were invited to. I felt like I was robbed. I was too young, at the age of 31, to be without my Mom. What exactly was there to celebrate ? I hope my children know that Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate, but I would rather them surprise me with a card or a toaster strudel on a regular old day. Not a day that they feel they “must do something”. The constant pressure for kids to “do something” because the calendar says so doesn’t mean near as much as when my kids did something sweet for me on a regular day. THOSE are the days and moments I celebrate Mother’s Day quietly. There was a day Kyle came home with several beautiful flowers in his dirty little hands and rang the doorbell. When I answered the door, there he was, smiling and holding them out to me. I hurriedly pulled him in the house (loved on him and put them in water) – but I knew he had taken them out of a neighbor’s garden so it was a quiet celebration for sure ! Or after a pre-teenage fight with Morgan I would get letter after letter from her explaining her views, or apologizing, or asking me for forgiveness, or sometimes just a picture or a piece of gum taped to a handmade card. THOSE were my Mother’s Day precious memories and moments…and I have thousands of them. I treasure my children and I still thank God, all of the time, for lending me these two to raise for Him.
So here I am, on Mother’s Day, fighting breast cancer, just as my Mom did exactly 15 years ago. She was losing her fight that Mother’s Day, and mine is just beginning, so the perspective of today is somewhat different. But now I do know what it’s like to wonder if you will have the opportunity to even decide if you want to celebrate Mother’s Day next year. I know what it’s like to spend countless hours during the night worrying over what will happen to your kids if this battle is lost – maybe not next year – but in a few years. I know now what it’s like to really look at your parenting and see if you helped nurture the qualities and characteristics in your kids that will allow them to have a good life, a life filled with happiness, God, helping others, responsibility, good choices, success, and love. But mainly, on those nights, and days like today, I know if/when I do lose this battle, in two years, six years, or twelve years, I will miss the daily Mother’s Day moments that my kids bring to my life. A call, a text, a joke, a donut, a letter, a smile, a facebook posting of support, Kyle knocking on the bedroom door in the late evening and laying on the bed with me to talk, the kids asking for advice or opinions. These are the small ones, the ones that Hallmark does not inspire or pressure, the ones that come directly from the hearts of my two precious children.
I promise, Morgie and Kyle, that next year, on Mother’s Day – we will have a big old party! It will be big enough to make up for all of the Mother’s Days we quietly celebrated…I am not sure what it will be like, but you guys leave this up to me – and mark your calendars for Mother’s Day 2012 – for that day – you two are all mine….I love you both dearly !!!! And I wonder, as my Mom looks down from heaven, if she likes the job I did raising her two grandbabies. She missed most of their lives and I hope she can see them from her windows in heaven – I hope she is very proud of them – because I know I am ! That is what makes MY Mother’s Day happy this year. That and that alone