Our baby Luna has started school for the first time. She goes every day from 9-12 to the sweet little Montessori where her brother goes. On the first days she screamed the whole time. I could here her screaming from inside her classroom while I was in the car. She was feeling abandoned for the first time. She is almost 2 years old and she never cried like that before. It breaks my heart to think that I am at risk of abandoning her at some point in her life. I don’t know if it’s going to be in 2 years, in 20 years, or if I’m anything like my grandmother, in 60 years.
The second day she screamed for 30 minutes. Now she walks in sniffling but stops crying as soon as she is in the school. Dropping her off at school for the first time has been a reminder of the deep soul fulfilling gratitude that my kids will have for each other. They will have each other to at the very least say “I know what you are going through.” My son holds my daughter’s hand every morning and walks her to her classroom. He isn’t told to do this, he isn’t an exceptionally nurturing person, he just doesn’t want her to cry.
I don’t believe I’m dying anytime soon, but I can’t help but think about it. There are days when the anxiety gets the best of me. But for the most part I’m able to acknowledge the negative thoughts and release them. I believe that negativity, stress, anxiety, and higher levels of cortisol are unhealthy to my body. I didn’t know what anxiety was, or what it looks like to me, until recently.
The fear of a future abandoning of my kids is triggered in random ways. While my husband and I are joyfully biking through Barcelona we are saying that we hope one of our kids will study abroad here so we can visit them. And then it hits me so hard that I almost fall off my bike–I hope I’m alive so I can come visit my kid when they study abroad in Barcelona. At dinner my mom remarks on how she will turn 90 on the same day my daughter turns 21 and she wants to have a blow out party. It is easier for me to picture my mom at her ninetieth birthday than it is to picture me at my daughters 21st birthday.
The hardest part about being a mom with cancer is the physical demands. My right arm is still compromised. I have about 70 percent mobility but it tightens back up. I go to physical therapy 4 times per week, and any improvement is lost on the days I don’t go. I thinks it’s the scar tissue from radiation and the burn of the tissue under my arm and around my chest. It has turned into frozen shoulder–it’s almost impossible for me to buckle my daughter into her car seat, especially on a squirmy day.
I don’t technically have lymphedema but my arm is achy, heavy, weak. I wear an arm sleeve almost everyday because it hurts with out it.
My daughter has been insisting that I hold her while I stand up. It will not do to sit on the floor next to her, or hold her in my lap. She wants “mama up!” There is no substitution in her book. I’m going in for surgery tomorrow, and I won’t be able to lift her for 6 weeks. I know kids are resilient–I watched her go through a major leap of getting dropped off at school, but it still hurts my heart that I won’t be able to give her the one thing she wants, to be held.
It is a continual challenge for me to not dwell on the future pain that my children will feel if I’m not around for a long time, when they are holding a screaming baby and wish they still had me there to support her. Sean and I are still dependent on our parents daily for support. Toddlers are wise teachers in the value of living in the moment.
While it is certainly hard to be a mom with cancer, the most beautiful thing in my life is that I get to be a MOM. I’m eternally grateful that my diagnosis came after my babies. Tomorrow I will have my uterus and ovaries removed, but it is easier knowing they have done there job beautifully. My ovaries have held these eggs since my birth, releasing them monthly in ancient rhythm. My uterus held and nurtured my children in its womb until they were ready to be born.