Just look at this crew!
They are my joy, they are my strength, they are my everything. And of course beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, right? Well… then in that case, beauty must be bouncing off of the eyes of the guy who’s always lookin’ at us through that camera lens to take our picture. Yup, my hubbie is always behind the camera keeping us together, keeping all these free birds in check, and dying to self everyday for us so that we can live on. A whole lot-o-love going on full circle there, I’d say. …
We are indeed full of love in this house. And we are often laughing and beaming with smiles when ya see us, I gotta tell ya, though, we don’t just stumble upon joy. Rather, we choose it. We choose to not let the cards that have been dealt to our family swallow us up and rob these faces of the joy and the love that is still so available and present to us. We just gotta stop and smell the roses once in a while, and take a minute to say “Hey, God, thanks for waking me up again today.” Something so simple as that, is a choice that makes a difference. That’s when the Big Guys sends down the graces. Without those graces, I’m a wet mop… soggy on the floor.
I recently took my crew to watch the newly released Cinderella in the theaters. All I could say was, “WOW!”
How perfectly that movie mimicked so many moments in my life, and so many of all of our lives, I’m sure. What’s more, it said so much of what I want to teach my children every day that I feel will allow them to be the loving, brave, and good people that I hope we are raising them to be.
” HAVE COURAGE AND BE KIND”
That was just one of the many mottos, if you will, that the poor Cinder-girl lived by; along with forgiveness without strings attached (one of the strongest and most powerful virtues to live by). Cinderella was given, as a young child, one of the most difficult hands dealt to her, losing her mother whom she was very close, then soon her father, who both understood her like no other, only to live with a family of no faith, charity, or decency. Yet, in all things, Cinderella kept her promise to her mother to “have courage and be kind“. And taking it a step further, through forgiving the stepfamily that harmed her, she truly lived happily every after.
I found great inspiration, strength, and peace as I watched that movie alongside my daughters. And have been waiting for just the right moment to write this letter to my children…
…to pass on similar words to them. I share it with you as well, in the hopes that your family, too, could benefit…
…from a little courage and kindness
To MY SIDEKICK, SUNSHINE, THE DUDE, FIRECRACKER, and SNUGGLES,
I hope you know that not a morning, day or night has gone by that I haven’t given my every breath for you. When I have been the sickest, I never thought twice about getting up 2 hours early to try and “get it all out of the way” and take my meds early so that I could slap on some make up and a beanie or a silly wig before you awoke so that you could see my best foot forward. Why? Not because I didn’t give you the truth, but because you deserve to see me giving you all I’ve got. And for YOU! You deserve all I have and more. And because I wanted to do that for you, it made me realize how much I needed you to see that good in ME. You have been the true gift and driving force in my fight in this battle all along.
When I first found out I was losing my hair…
We thought that’d be the end of us. You guys hit the floor. But how quickly you bounced right back with a little dab of courage from the looks of my sweet, and brave friend, Angelle Albright, a fellow cancer survivor and friend with literally my same diagnosis. When you saw her picture, with and without hair, and all the trendy styles she fashioned with her team over at Cheamobeanies, you so quickly changed your tune. You kids had know idea how brave you were making me. Brave enough for us all to take that same evening and turn it around and celebrate our diagnosis with a TEAM BUNA KICK OFF PARTY with the cousins at CHUCK E CHEESE! Who does that?!? We do! I love y’all so much for that!
When I began my CHEMOTHERAPY ….
and became very very ill for the first 2 weeks of each round, leaving only 1 truly “good week” to celebrate and go out and have some fun. You all were so delicate with me. You did your best to stay on task with your daily schedules, following the little routines that I’d put on the fridge just before I had gotten sick, to help Grammie and Daddy follow. You helped each other out with getting dressed and sorting laundry. You kissed me on my balding forehead as I slept on the couch when you came home from school, and again even if I was still sleeping after dinner and when you were off to bed. I tried my very best to rally up with fun wigs and silly songs in the mornings and goofy notes in your lunches to send you off on a good note in the mornings. I really tried. You forgave me for the absentee mom I’d been the day and night before. You’re too little to have to go through all of this and to not have me involved, especially when you can see me right there so tired and sleepy, yet you did. I truly believe that FAITH has taught you how to love me that way. I’m so thankful it’s always been a part of our house, and when I needed it most, YOU, little ones, lived your faith in love to me. You FORGAVE ME.
When my HAIR WAS FALLING out and it was time to SHAVE MY HEAD all together…
You knew it was time. I had tried a few hair cut to prepare you and transition you from my extra long blond locks, so you knew it was coming. When my pal, Regina, came over for our “Bye Bye Blondie party, you all wanted in on the action. We put on “Just Dance” on the Wii downstairs, ready for a dance party, brought me a glass of wine, and once Reg started me out with that killer pink and blue Mohawk… it was “Love at first sight!” You guys went from crying over losing your Barbie doll mama to wanting to keep this Rocker-chick forever! We knew it wouldn’t last long, but why not keep it for a few days? When else will I have a Mohawk? So we did! Live in the moment, right?! We had a kid-friendly rave party, dancing the night away with my Mohawk and continued to until it started falling out 3 days later. ….. And when it did, Reg retruned to finish the job. Thank you for being so gentle with me. Thank you , kids, for giving me the privacy to be alone with her to shed a few tears, and to take some deep breaths before I came down those stairs. I’ll never forget you each slowly reaching your hand inside my beanie to first feel my head before I lifted the beanie off. I wanted you to know that it was still a little “scruffy”. (To protect the follicles, they suggested I not “bic” it right away. So it’s patchy and awkward at first, yet better to feel that you took control of it than feeling it fall out on your pillow case and food all the time). You each gently felt it, then asked me to remove it. When you did, you didn’t look at me in disgust. Instead, we asked you to draw a picture of what Mommy looked like. You drew the most amazing pictures of big blue eyes, big smiles, us together hugging, and nothing but happiness and love. To face you all, of all people, was a scary moment. For whatever reason, my diagnosis and my treatments haven’t been scary to me, but facing you all have been the hardest parts. I’ve wanted to be the best mommy and the same beautiful mommy that you all have wanted me to be. To be beautiful for my husband and my family, means more to me than anything. And you showed me in that moment, that no matter what, I’m still your mommy. And nothing can change my beauty. My love for you and who I am …. IS MY BEAUTY. You, my kiddos, taught me once again. Again… thank you.
THEIR PICTURES BELOW:
When it was time for my BIG SURGERY and for Mommy to go away for a few nights…
… no one was happy about that, but you helped me pack my bags, and all assumed roles in the house to make the house run as smooth as could be. You even showed me how you’d do it the week before with “get ready for bed” and “get ready for school” lists. You worked as a team and Grammie was oh so appreciative. Even the dog still got her lovin from you. Talk about a bunch of mini-mommies and one man of the house still on duty! You came to visit with books to read me (Shel Silverstein, a definite fave of mine) and brightend my day, my room, and the faces of all of my doctors and nurses as well! You were very gentle with me when I came home, always careful to bring me pillows to surround me like a cocoon so that no body could bump me during night time wrestling! You even took it easy on me when I wanted to join in “Just Dance” but looked ridiculous with no right arm movements, no jumping, and lots of pain meds. But, hey, points for trying, right? 🙂 Thanks for not making fun, guys!
Radiation came and you were ready to play along…
…you came to Target to pick out fun t-shirts for me to wear to add to our already received gift of the HULK SMASH shirt (Thanks, Kim Wright!) to get the ball rollin’. When all of our spirits were starting to get down, we all pulled together and went to our family love language….”costumes” and “razzle dazzle”, and that’s what we did! We Hulk Smashed it, SNL Lazer cat-ified it, We Rocked it, and we G.I. Janed it. And in the end, burnt, sore, tired, and just plain “done”, you all came for my final day of this leg of treatment to once again, show me what I was fighting for. I’m fighting for YOU! I’m fighting for my life to live with YOU. Therefore, you earned every right to ring that dang BELL!!! I was so proud of you that day. To see YOU so proud of ME was a big deal. But I was the proudest. Because you did it, too. You, my family, are weathering this storm like no other. So when you asked me, “Mommy can we ring it to? My response… (don’t repeat this guys , but…)
And NOW?? Now, as we continue on with the rest of our journey of CHEMO every 21 days through summer and 2 MORE SURGERIES to boot…
…I’m going to ask you, once again, Kiddos, to be brave. I would never ask you to do anything if I didn’t think you could. I also know that God never leaves us stranded without the graces to get through tough times when we get stuck with them. Keep praying with Daddy and I every night. When I get sleepy, keep praying with Daddy. And in your bed at night before you go to sleep. When you grow up, pray with your families, too. Some of the coolest moments have been when I’ve sleeping on the couch, only to awake to your sweet singing songs of Godspell (the play we just worked on together) or kneeling all together, with candles lit, praying with all of our might for friends that we knew needed all of our prayers at that very moment. #pray4paul, #livelikepaul, #pray4ben #nosurrender, #pray4babywillis You guys are #PrayerNinjaWarriors! Again, you prove, that even in the darkest moments, God can shine His light.
You see, kiddos, it’s not about me. I’m no INSPIRATION. YOU ARE. YOU ALL ARE LIKE THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN IN OZ.
I hope that everyone who reads this blog knows that YOU, my children, my family, are the impetus behind all that I say, that I write, and that I do. You are why I go to each and every appointment, you are why I take my medicine, you are why I will complete every single leg of every treatment they say I need to keep me here with you. In fact, you are my best medicine. I loved you far before I ever knew you, and wanted to be your Mommy since way before I was old enough to be one.
When I first became a Mom, I had no idea what I was doing, but when those big blue eyes of yours looked up at me, Sidekick, I knew I had to get my self together. We were in this together, you were my Sidekick, like Batman and Robin. No crying, no freaking out. We were a team. And once we added on Sunshine, then the crazy Dude wild man, we just increased our superhero forces and went with it. Our clan kept growing (Before we knew it we had Firecracker and Snuggles and our van was full!), our life kept getting crazier, and sometimes, you guys saw it…. I got pretty upset. But whenever I have been worried or frazzled from whatever has been on my plate, you’ve asked, “What’s the matter, Mommy?” (In nothing flat, you saw it in my eyes and you asked. Because you all have a radar on me. Crazy!) And I just respond, “Mommy’s just tired, but it’s gonna be ok. Every little thing is gonna be alright. I just need a minute.” And I do. I go take a bath, or take a step outside, whaterver I need to cool off, and I’m back. Kiddos, we’ve got this, because God’s got us. You guys are ALWAYS at my side, giving me whatever push I need to keep going, just like I do for you. We’re a team.
*Like I’ve always taught you, no fear. No worries. It’s gonna be alright. Deep breath.
*When life gets yucky and we’re having a bad day, that’s ok. But step back for a minute and break away for a bit. Don’t let someone else get the tough end of your bad day. BE KIND.
*When life just seems “too much”, take a deep breath. One step at a time. Don’t look forward, Don’t look back. You can do it, whatever it is. No matter how big or how small. HAVE COURAGE.
*When you feel like it’s just not fair, or that others have hurt you. It may not be fair. But that’s not what’s important. Who YOU are, and how you face the music is what’s important. How you LOVE is what’s important. How you live out your faith is what’s important. Don’t live according to others or wait for others to seek your forgiveness, for your heart to move on. Much like Cinderella… FORGIVE NOW; yet remember… you don’t have to stick around to get hurt again.
“The greatest risk is to be seen as who you truly are.” – Cinderella
Last but not least, you know that I’ve had a thousand different looks these past few months. But, funny enough, you don’t seem all too surprised! I think you know me best to know that that’s the real me. I love to play, I love to dance, and I love to dress up (And I don’t mean fancy. The goofier the more comfortable I am, honestly). Some of the scariest moments for me have been the first times walking in to church, holding your hands, while Daddy parked the car, and no one had yet seen me with a beanie and no hair, or now without a beanie anymore and bleach blonde buzz short hair. Each time I’ve hesitated before opening those big church doors. “Will they all stare at me? What will these people think? What do all the people from work think of me that might look at my blog and see I don’t look like that ‘put together Barbie doll’ girl that they hired for the job? Blah blah blah…” And then comes that same glance that you all give as if to say again, “What’s the matter, Mommy?”
That’s when it always hits me, “Nothing. Nothing’s the matter. I’m fine. Every little thing is gonna be alright. “
Because it is. And who cares. It’s just hair. This is me. This is truly truly me. And it’s a risk worth taking! Again… It feels soo good.
I love you, Kiddos. I always have, and I always will.
Sometimes we’re stumbling. Sometimes we’re falling. But sometimes we’re spreading our wings and flying!
I’ll do it all over, and over, and over again… FOR YOU!