At the end of July, after all of my appointments, scans, mammograms and biopsies, an entirely new doctor met me to shake my hand and tell me that I had breast cancer. I didn’t flinch. Why? Because I knew already. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve known in some strange way for a while now. I feel like God had been trying to tell me before this doctor did for the past year or so. My heart beat strangely every time I saw that little pink ribbon, or yet another friend was diagnosed, or I simply saw the color pink. Finding my lump was when my heart thumped the same way, but louder. God was preparing me the same that He does when He lets you know you need that you need talk to someone about something. Ever get that strong heart beat when you just know you have to face something big that you didn’t want to, but you just know in your gut that you have to do it? You have to help someone. You have to tell someone something. I believe that feeling in my gut is God talking. God was preparing my heart for breast cancer for quite sometime, making this moment of my diagnosis as easy as it could be because He had prepared my heart as best as He could. It was all confirmed as to why. It was me. I was the reason. I had the diagnosis, and this new face was laying it all out for me in black and white. When she told my husband and I, I looked at him, told him, “It’s ok, we’re going to be ok. God’s got this.” That’s when my husband refrained from falling over in the chair (You see, this was his first time getting any memo from God about the whole breast cancer thing. A bit of a shocker there on his end, I’m sure!) We went straight from the St.Tammany Women’s Pavillion to the Chapel to pray and surrender all of our concerns and anxieties to the Big Guy. I just kept repeating with a smile, “God’s got this.” It was the hardest and most amazing thing we’d ever done!
I couldn’t help but let myself, my own mommy-factor creep in every once in a while. You know the one, right? The multi-tasking one that freakishly scoots 6 bags of groceries up one arm, jiggle the keys in that hand, while scooting another 7 bags up the other arm that has the diaper bag on the same shoulder with possibly baby carrier in hand, while maybe a toddler follows behind who may or may not have been bribed to carry a jug of milk! All this while possibly refusing your audience of neighbors’ help. Why? Because so many of us (atleast I think so, or If not, I guess I’m just the only freak show? Come on now. There are others out there, I’ve seen you and you know who you are.) suffer from “I Got this syndrome”.
This can be a wonderful way to check things off a list and knock yourself out (literally… ending up flat on your face or humiliated when you just can’t do it like you SWORE to yourself or others that you could). It’s my most dangerous syndrome that I have. I am like a manic underachiever/overachiever. With 5 kids, I’ve learned to pick my battles a lot and say “no” a lot more. I avoided “pinterest” for a very long time, for fear it would just put me to shame, as I will never do all of those things. However, when I found out I had cancer, and that I had one guaranteed “good week”, I was gonna make the most out of that week and be super mom whenever I could. I told my family, “When you see me on those weeks, don’t stop me! I WANT to be Mommy in every way I can when I can. Cancer can’t take away my motherhood!”
Sounds good. Sounds touching, right? Problem is, I topped it off with the omen:
“I GOT this!”
I would love to say that this is me, but it’s not. I’m no Martha Stewart. I’m not a baker. I bake from a box and only for my kids’ birthday parties… which means 5 times a year. To me, that feels like a lot. I HATE baking. Too many rules for me. But I can decorate. It’s the showmanship, actress/costume-designer part of me that likes to “costume the cake”, so to speak! I like the razzle dazzle of the party, the decor, the invitations, and the socializing. I could feel absolutely terrible, but put me in the middle of a party, or right here at a Mardi Gras parade and I jump right in the middle of the streets and dance with the best of them because the crowd and the party is like morphine to me. I love it all! I may collapse at the end, but I didn’t feel a thing in the moment.
My “I GOT this” syndrome kicked in pretty strong this past week for all the same reasons that push me to bake when I don’t like to bake for my kids b-day parties, or go to parades when I have had chronic migraines in the past and went and dressed up and danced in the streets amongst the floats anyway. Maybe it’s because I’m a New Orleanian at heart and love a holiday and a reason to party, or maybe its just me. Who knows? Well this week, was Halloween. It just so happened, that God was so good to me and my holiday lovin, party lovin, family lovin self, was gifted and blessed to have my “good week” always fall on my “Getting Wiggy With It Fundraiser”, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and will wrap up in time for Christmas! See, God’s got this! But, alas, I had to go and take it a step further, put my “game face” on, which may have looked something like this….
…and just may have pridefully proclaimed,
“Halloween? Class parties? Trick or Treating? Decorating?….Psshhh…
“I GOT THIS”
Famous last words of a mother who has been known to bite off more than she can chew, yet has warned her family and friends to please, pleeeeease let her try to do this when she can. So, with worried looks, shaking their heads at me, they let me. And on I went.
With excitement, I geared up for
Halloween School Festivities: Crazy Hair day & 4 Class Parties (All with Baby Snuggles in tow)
***Took brief 3 hour intermission here between a.m. and pm. parties to go home, trim bushes, garden, and rake up my mess like a crazy woman so I could decorate our house for Halloween trick or treating. Not my smartest choice of the day. BY FAR. Definitely an “I’ve Got this” flare up.***
Now on to PART 2
**After rushing home to wash the color dye out of 4 kids’ hair, pick up the house for a party, put some food in a crock pot for a house full of guests, dress 5 kids in costumes, throw costumes on ourselves (mommy and daddy still hadn’t pulled ours out of a bag just given to us…which just so happened to be AWESOME!!! Thank you, MARIA, you ROCK!!!)…We made it. Unscathed. (Almost, if you don’t include Sidekick’s near trip to the ER for a twisted wrist, which our P.T. guest was able to look at before her whole trick or treat experience was lost to the E.R….. sheesh!)**
We dedicated our night to our Pirate lovin Doc/Oncologist, Dr.Jay Saux,
And stormed the streets hunting for candy treasure in the name of
Kicking Cancer’s Butt… or Walk the Plank!
We did it!!! I survived Halloween with my kiddos. I checked off the list of the many things that we wanted to do, the costumes we wanted to wear, we had a great time with family and friends. As I mentioned before. In my head, the day was mine, in terms of what I’d do for my family to give them the best Halloween ever! I was in my element, I was pumped, and fiending off of the energy of the social scene that I’ve missed these past few months during infusions.
But, I paid for it. In all of my swashbuckling fun and rainbow pigtailed “room mom wannabe” festivities, I forgot, again, that I am in”the Big C” club (cancer) and I do get super overwhelmed and tired easily. I think anybody would have from that day, but multiply that a bit, and I ended up with a migraine and feverish all weekend.
My “I got this” syndrome had really hit a flare up and went too far. So much that I got myself sick and had to miss the next big portion of our weekend. My husband and I do ministry for families and married couples. This weekend, my kids look forward to all year. This weekend was our annual “Family that Prays Retreat“. They get to come, we all get to be there, at least those old enough, and pray together as a family (which we could really use right about now) . It’s beautiful. But, I had to go home, and so did my daughter, Sunshine, who pushed too hard too the night before, and I didn’t notice how bad her cough was, because I was so determined to complete the task, and finish the night. Whoops again.
“I Got this” only works so far. It starts off great guns. I can knock out a list like no other. I was checking it off like a boss. Yet, Firecracker asked me the next morning, “Mommy, I didn’t see you trick or treating with me. Why didn’t you do that?” Shot to the heart! (I was so busy entertaining the crowd and running around, that I forgot to hold her hand and trick or treat to even just one door. Who am I? I decorated, we had a feast, but I missed the little things. We as a family, dressed up to be a pirate crew together. We were supposed to trick or treat together. I was supposed to hold her hand and say “trick or treat” at least once. But, I focused on the big stuff, and missed the little things.
I have this idea in my head that I don’t want my kids to remember this year as the year that any of their holidays stunk or they missed out on anything because Mommy was sick. I hang this weight of guilt upon myself to overachieve in order to make up for the two weeks of each round that I’m sick with so many side effects and shove it all into that one “good week”. Then, I out do myself, with omens of “I Got this.” When really, I think my kids may not need all the extras that I’m throwing in there.
Last month, on my “good week”, I asked my 3 year old (“Firecracker”) what she wanted to do one day. She simply wanted to go to Target, come home, and swing. I offered her parks, snowballs, Chuck E. Cheese, and more. But she just wanted “normalcy” and a healthy, smiling Mommy to do a simple normal day with her. So why do I overcomplicate things with “lists of overachievements” when all they really want is “presence”.
St. Mother Theresa said these profound words… “Do small things with great love.”
My lists grow bigger and bigger. My showmanship and flare ups of my “syndrome” tend to just put me flat on my face in humility. Sure, I have moments where I’m feeling pretty proud. Sometimes it goes over well. It wasn’t all bad. In fact, we had a wonderful Halloween. We had a blast! Truly, we did. But, did I really need to rush around to garden the yard on my break in between? Of course not. My friends and family could care less. The kids would have been happy to have me well rested so that I could be more present later. Did I need to run around so much to be the “hostess with the mostest”? Nah, It was a potluck, self serve. It’s a built in easy free for all. We’re all grown ups. Everyone will be ok. My kids needed me to be present to them, to focus more on them. Overall, a great win, but I can take those tips for myself and remember to simplify and to focus on my family. I can also always remember to ask myself WHY am I doing what I’m doing, and WHO am I really doing it for. If it’s for them, then do it with great love, and love them how they really want me to love them, not how I think it should go or think would look good. Be present.
Be present, and listen. I may have not been physically present on “The Family the Prays” retreat on Sunday. I hated to leave, and learned a lesson there for sure. Yet, I offered up my time at home for my hubbie leading it, and my two children able to attend (Sidekick & The Dude). I prayed that they could really grow closer to God and bring home something special for us. Again, I want this year to be a year in which we grow stronger as a family and as a foundation builder for each of my children to be better for it vs. just one crappy year. Not only did they have a fantastic weekend, but I was humbled by an email that I received today from a leader on the retreat. It read as follows:
“I have to tell you, when I was teaching the kids about the Rosary, I asked the kids who had the best mommy. Of course, everyone raised their hands. I then I asked, “What do you admire most about your mommy?” Your daughter (Sidekick) quickly raised her hand and said, “She’s brave!”
My point was to connect what they love about an earthly mommy to Our Blessed Mother.”
I normally wouldn’t share something like that, so personal from my child’s thoughts. But, It just made me think. I’m trying to impress my kids with costumes, class visits, fun parties, etc. Which are all fantastic and fun, and don’t get me wrong… all part of “normalcy” for what we do around here for the holidays. But what is really making an impact on her is what I have stuck in my head that I need to make up for. I feel I need to make up for my sick weeks. I feel I need to make it up to them that I’m not my normal self on the other weeks.
Instead, my kids have accepted me with such grace and beauty. They kiss my bald head. They love my crazy pirate costumes, my funny rainbow wigs and “I got this” bouts of energy. But I didn’t need to do all of that. I can let go of that syndrome, that crutch that I wouldn’t let God take from me. Because the kids are ok with it. They don’t see me as a bum on the couch. When they see me sick, they see me “brave”. That blew me away.
When we think we are not enough. God sees so much more. When we think people falsely compliment us, we need to step back and say “thank you” and ask God to help us see what they see. Because they see more. We are more than we think we are. Our life doesn’t have to be grand. And we don’t have to do it all and carry it all, and make a big show of it all to “be somebody or something!”
Live simply, and be true to yourself, as long as who you are is exactly who God has called you to be. The difference is. When you woke up that morning, Did you ask him or did you decide for yourself. Big difference between saying “I got this” and “God’s got this”.
My daughter gave me this prayer after her retreat, and I’m taking it to heart. It’s a good one:
God may still be calling me to be this Mom who fluttered in to Pk3 this week for Storytime…
But that’s the real me. That’s just part of how God made me. I went home and took a nap and even had a little tea and prayer time after that one, no yardwork! 🙂
I’m a work in progress. But that’s why I’m so glad that I’m not the only one in charge here…
GOD’S GOT THIS!
…and that ain’t nothing to worry about. As long as He does, then…
“every little thing is gonna be alright”