23 May 2014

Mommy grace

My high schoolers leave the house before I get out of bed.
I hate this. Really, I do. For 13 years I drove my kids to school. I loved having them trapped in the car with me for 20 minutes or so every morning.
Five minutes or so into the drive, I'd announce, "Topic of the Day!"
Groans and sighs from the back of the van.
It's the same every morning, yet they acted like they had no idea it was coming.
I'd pose questions, situations and we'd discuss. Sometimes serious, "If you were to die today, would you have any regrets?"  Sometimes silly, "If you were a food, what would you be?" Usually a Freedom of Speech debate. Oh, ask my kids to give you my "Election Day/it's a privilege and duty to vote" speech.
Good stuff.
A mommy friend of mine recently had her third child. They are officially outnumbered. Having seven kids, I'm WAY outnumbered. But I remember having three and feeling paralyzed. I began to get teary-eyed thinking of my 22, 20 and 17-year-olds as 5, 3 and a newborn. Then my tummy tightened up as I remember taking them all to get a gallon of milk one day.
I pulled some of ideas out of my Mommy Bank and suggested a few of my tricks-disguised-as-games.
Now, it's 17 years, four kids, death of my First Mike and my cancer diagnosis later.
Now, I'm yelling at Little H when she pulls the laces from her shoes and is practicing how to lace them.
Now, I'm snapping at The Son because the trash didn't go out.
Now, I'm scowling at K because I got a form this morning and it was due yesterday.
Now, I am not having fun with my kids.

Where did that other mommy go?

The bus is coming to get Little H in 10 minutes and she is brushing her teeth  s l o w l y  . Then she starts to have a freak out.
There's a TAG in the side of her shirt. "Get it out. Get it OUT. GETITOUUUUUT."
Never mind she's worn said shirt probably eight times and not even noticed this mean 'ol tag.
I sigh. Grab scissors. And, not very gingerly, send the mean 'ol tag to the trash. I exploded.
"We have to go!"
Then, my Little H comes over and gives me a huge hug. Lays her head on my chest, pats my back and says, "It's OK, Mommy."
Oh, Little H. I knelt down and looked into her big brown eyes and told her, "I am so sorry I snapped at you. There is no excuse. I will try to do better."
She smiled up at me. She's full of grace.
I need to give myself grace.
I gave advice to another mommy friend with young kids last week. Apparently, I'm better at giving it than living it.
This friend, the supremely talented and witty young adult fiction writer, looked me smack in the eyes and said, "Give yourself grace."
She tells me to love myself. Right where I am.
The Bible, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, says,
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
Rest in God so Christ's power can rest on me. God's grace is enough.  For Little H. For me. For you.

16 May 2014

Hit by a truck

Teased into believing I actually felt better, I had grand plans for the week.
Aside from the usuals, I added a mammogram and a gastroenterology appointment and a therapist appointment into the mix. 

So, when the Caregiver's glasses broke this morning, the stress sent me to the place of no return.
Stress paralyzes me.
I walk back into the house after getting little H on the bus and am flooded with stress. No matter what room I peer into, things are screaming at me. 
Fold me ... Basket of towels in the family room
Vacuum me ... Hall, foyer, steps, family room.
I'm smothering ... Dining room table, littered with papers and books and cords and cups.
Wipe me ... (Not that kind of wipe me) counters in the kitchen.
Get me some milk ... Fridge is screaming.
And my kids aren't even home.
All this yelling is from the things that can't even really speak.
Defeated, I head upstairs to my sanctuary. Haha, sanctuary. If your house if like mine everything that "doesn't have a home" ends up in the master bedroom. Some sanctuary. 
I'm going back to bed. 
This is the balancing act of my life with CML.
Things I want to do, things I used to do, I no longer have the energy for. As time goes on and as my body adjusts to the side effects of the Super Dangerous but Absolutely Necessary chemotherapy pills, I'm told I'll have more energy. I'm told I'll be able to do more. And I  believe it. Because I have been feeling good lately. So good that my schedule is filling up again and now I'm "doing too much."
My body yells at me, too. 
I start to run a low-grade fever. 
I start to ache more.
I start to get snarky (snarkier, I guess) with my family. Why are we the nastiest with the ones we love the most? I hate that. Hate that I do that. Someone very wise once told me, 
"Treat the ones you love the most as if they were strangers."  
Best advice I've ever gotten. One of the toughest things to practice.
So, I continue to plan my day. Continue to plan events - whether it's watching my daughter kick ass in varsity tennis or taking the van to get an oil change. And although I continue to plan, I must be ready to listen and hear what my body tells me. Because I do have cancer. I do have CML. And I may end up in bed. Even when I don't want to.

14 May 2014

Lean on me

I was diagnosed with CML right before Light the Night.
At my 6-month mark, it was time for Relay for Life.

How fitting.

Having CML (chronic myelogenous leukemia) means I get tired easily and often. That makes participating in events and survivor walks difficult, at best. But, at both events, I was held up by amazing, giving, selfless friends and my dear family.
So, for your viewing pleasure, here are pictures from the Patticakes team at the Newport News Relay for Life.

Me, The Caregiver and 3 of our daughters walking the survivor lap.

The family (plus 1 boyfriend and missing 2 daughters still at college), some Relay SWAG and
my dear friend over at runningwithletters.blogspot.com, Cynthia.
Let me tell you about Charlotte and Suzy.
These 2 beautiful young ladies had a "bookmarks and baked goods" sale to raise money for the
Patticakes team. These amazing 5th graders raised more than $200.
That's their awesome mom and dad, Julie and Doug, in the bottom picture.

Amber and her husband Joe are 2 of the most giving, genuine people I've ever known.
Amber is also an amazing elementary school art teacher. The picture on the left is the luminary bag
she created especially for me. Notice the AU in the top corner, and the words "giant slayer" in the ribbon.
Love it! Love them!

The top, left picture is of Sarah and Jason and 2 of their cute kids.
They have stood with me since I was diagnosed.
On the right is the wonderful Ashley and Robert and below is their beautiful princess. She loves me.

I've leaned hard on these 3. Robin, top left, and Nate, top right, since my first Mike died.
Below is beautiful Pat.

Debi is a long-time cancer survivor and friend. The top picture is the back of her survivor shirt.
Bottom pictures are of her and me, walking the survivor lap and in front of the survivor ribbon.

Some shots of my beautiful family. They mean the world to me.

And finally, some luminaries.