I’m smothered. So smothered by children that I can’t breathe sometimes. But, I have wanted this kind of smothering since I was a little girl. Even as a dirty little tree-climbing tomboy, I knew I was destined to be a mommy and one with a whole lot of babies! My dad is one of eight, and when I saw the joy on my grandparents’ faces when they sat in their chairs on Christmas Eve, watching their children’s families roll in again and again ….and again with all the clammering of voices and little feet all around them, I just knew I wanted to be just like them one day. So, here I am. And I’m doing it!
I even had the pleasure of visiting my lovely, amazing matriarch/idol of a grandmother a few weeks ago to remind her of how much I pray for her now and have my whole life. I’ve prayed to have the grace to do what she did and have the big family life like she did. God heard those prayers, alright. If you recall, I have 3 angels in heaven (through miscarriage), so that’s a tie! I have 5 hear to hug, and 3 to pray for me up above. I did it. A mama of eight, just like my grandmother, Adelaide (“Adee“). And guess what. This stinky ol’ cancer ain’t gonna take that away from me now. No, sir! Even if sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed, and frankly..
Still, when I became a mother, everything just kind of clicked. It’s who I knew I was supposed to be. Even though, quite honestly, I still have no idea exactly what I’m doing!! Please don’t expect to pick my brain for answers, because I feel like we’re baby stepping this whole family thing
one day…err….one hour…. one minute at a time. Not to say that I’ve lowered the bar. I merely choose my battles. When those battles get really ugly, I can always ask myself:
In that case, I think we’re all doing pretty well, right? That’s kind of how I’ve been handling this whole cancer thing too. I have my good days, I have my bad days, and at the end of most of them, I feel I can safely say, no major flags were thrown and we’re coming out stronger and more united as a family. But I must admit, we’ve had some tough days. I’ve had some tough days, both as a woman in general, and as a mother. But if it weren’t for both my faith, and those little faces that call me, “Mommy”, I don’t know how I’d do it. THEY are pulling me through, even in the oddest of moments. Really.
Over Thanksgiving break, the big bad flu bug hit my crew. It was running rampant through our elementary school. Whether or not you had received a flu shot, you were bound to get this flu strand. With this many kids in the house, we were targets. So, (pun intended) off to TARGET, we went to pick up our prescriptions for Tamaflu for the whole fam. ($70 a pop for 7 people! Yikes!!) And, this, my friends, is how I then was sent to Mary Bird Perkins Center to receive my regular fluids and labs, in quarantine, since I had been exposed. Lovely.
This was not going to work for us. We had three separate days of our Thanksgiving family feast marathon to accomplish and I was NOT sporting this mask, no matter how tempting it was to take friends’ advice and draw big smoochy lips on it. Mama don’t play that. God heard, He answered… and that expensive Tamaflu stuff was filled with pixie dust or something magical. I’m convinced that’s why they charge so much for it. There’s crack in there, I think?? Shhhhh.
Can I tell ya, I got my nose out of joint in the process? I was so darn excited about having my kids home for the break during my “good week” and so happy to do all the little things involved in “taking care of them” and “being mommy all by myself” that I normally take for granted. It’s been so long since I’ve gotten to do that. I’m very thankful for all of the help, but sometimes, I just want to prove to myself and the kids that I can do it. That’s why, rain or shine, nauseous or not, I wake up a good hour and a half before everyone in the house to do my routine of: taking all my meds, try and get any nausea/tummy issues out of the way, maybe squeeze some prayer time in to get my “head in the game”, get dressed (even if it’s just yoga pants and a hoodie), put on a little make up (only so they don’t have to see a tired, sickly mommy, but a mommy that’s putting her best foot forward and trying) and fix their cereal and their hair every school morning. It’s what I do. That’s my job. It means everything to me.
Even when they started to get sick over the break, I put on my gloves and my mask, and did all I could to take care of them and organize the doctor visits. Although, I couldn’t go to them. That broke my heart. I’m the one who goes. I know the doctor. I knew the log and the play-by-play of what had been happening, when they got their meds, how they like to be held in the office, which meds have worked in the past and which don’t… blah blah blah. I really, really, REALLY didn’t like being home while my hubbie and my mom took 2 of my kiddos to the doc for me. You’d think that was a relief, but it bothered me. I felt like a piece of my “Mommy-hood” was stripped and my hands were tied. May seem silly, but it was what it was. And I cried. I put my bald head right in my hands and I cried.
My mind scampered from one thought, to another, and another, and I felt so very out of control. I don’t have a total grasp on what’s happening at all the doctor appointments that the kids have been going to with other family members. My sweet Sunshine has been struggling with some friendships and heartache at school that has broken my Mommy heart every night when I talk with her and every morning that I send her off again. Sidekick wants nothing more than to be my “sidekick”, even if it’s just to help her study, when during this first week of a chemo round I can hardly keep my eyes open at night. The Dude and Firecracker are balls of energy exploding all over the house, wrestling each other or anyone in their way, like it or not… and I wish I could hang. And that sweet little Snuggles has just turned one already, and I would give nothing more than to just take a nap with her all day and squish and hug her snuggly little body. I am overwhelmed by them and yearn for them when they’re gone, all at the same time. It’s the double-edged sword of motherhood, I guess.
It hit me hard alright. Begrudgingly, I had to go back to my prayer from the beginning of this whole mess. I had to remember and struggle to say that…they are not entirely mine. They were God’s first. All of my concerns for their needs, for Sunshine‘s broken heart, for Sidekick’s desire for more of me, etc….. for “every little thing“…. God has a plan. He’s already thought of it, and He has it under control. I must trust that He, too, is looking out for these children of mine. He gave me the gift of “motherhood” and will give me the grace for what ever “motherhood” looks like for me right now.
Cancer doesn’t get to take that away from me. It may look different, but I’m still THE MAMA!
When my kids fell to the floor in defeat, when they found out I’d lose my hair, it was because they, at that point, identified me as their long, blonde haired mom. But now, they see ME. They don’t see a woman with no hair, they see their mama for who she is. God has graced them with a most precious gift that I’ve prayed we all could receive. I feel they look at me now with the gift to be able to see with the eyes of God to see not just my appearance, but to see my heart and my soul. To see a mother that loves this family and is fighting with every breath for them. And they know it.
When I’m struggling, and having a weak moment, wanting my old long hair back and having a pity party in my mind, God sends one of these 5 kiddos to appear around the corner and say or do just the right thing, at just the right time. And don’t even get me started on my hubbie, that’s a whole different blog. He’s been at my side every step of the way, never skipping a beat, never batting an eye at my bald head, cherishing me as if nothing’s every changed. (Sigh) But this blog’s about “Motherhood”… So, here’s my top picks from each of my crew to leave you with:
-1 & 2-
Sidekick (pictured right):
“I missed you at school today. (BIG HUG) I love you, love you, love you!”
Sunshine (pictured left):
“Mommy, you’re the prettiest mommy ever. Can we snuggle tonight?”
Actions speak louder than words.
He never misses an opportunity to kiss the top of my bald head.
My little Firecracker
All day, at random moments throughout,
she taps my shoulder, grabs my cheeks and says,
“I like your face!” (gets me every time)
And then there’s Miss Snuggles
By the very fact that she knows its me, whether I have nothing on my head, or a beanie, or a hat, or a rainbow wig …. or even an afro! She knows who her Mommy is. She doesn’t define me by my hair or what I’m wearing. She knows me. She loves me. She knows she’s loved. And I love that!
I guess I’m starting to lose track of who’s really teaching who around here, but I know that in all the muck and hard stuff that we have to go through, something good is happening, too. We may have to do things a little different now, and it may look pretty darn different for the time being, but I think in the end it’s gonna be better. I have great faith and hope in that.
“…it’s gonna be alright.” –Bob Marley