A Man’s Reach Should Exceed His Grasp…

“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” Robert Browning

The baby and I sit on the floor of the playroom, stretching and reaching, grabbing towards the toy that I’ve put just within his reach. At six months, his reaching is fully developed. His grasping, not so much. But he tries, over and over again, and he is getting so good at it. He reaches, he reaches … he grasps!

And I cheer.

So much of what we do these days is focused on trying to do more, and more. My whole life, actually, has been one step after another in reaching and achieving, building towards … what?

Seven months in bed with a pregnancy?

Six months in chemotherapy for cancer?

And then what?

For the first time in my life, I’ve really had to slow down. To stop, actually. To rest. To not work. To barely even get up and shower each day, much less achieve something of greatness. It’s … not going so well.

It’s frustrating, actually. I’m not dealing well with the fatigue and isolation that chemo brings. I try, but then I exhaust myself with the trying, and end up not two steps forward, but three steps back. I know I should do less, and yet it’s a lesson that I re-learn weekly, as I tire myself out trying to be mom, and wife, and person, when in reality I should be simply … fighter.

Fighting the cancer.

The words above are from a poem that have echoed in my head the past few weeks as baby Little Bear reaches, and grasps, and reaches again. That I knew. What I didn’t know? The title of the poem: Less is More.

Less is more.

Right now, fighting the cancer is what I need to do. Loving my babies is what I need to do. Appreciating my family is what I need to do. Everything else can wait.

Less is more.

42 Responses to A Man’s Reach Should Exceed His Grasp…

  1. you are so wise, sweet mama… everything you need to beat this resides in your soul nd heart, right this second. your cheering section is proud of you in ever moment – even the three-steps-back ones.

  2. you are so wise, sweet mama… everything you need to beat this resides in your soul and heart, right this second. your cheering section is proud of you in every moment – even the three-steps-back ones.

  3. You just take everything second-by-second, Whymommy… And do whatever feels right for YOU, YOUR body, YOUR family.

    I know it’s hard to accept help, much less ask for it, when you feel that YOU “should be” doing so much (I was on complete bedrest for my second pregnancy, and as a classic “Type-A”, I felt that way for a looong time). But, you know what? It HELPS OTHER PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOU when you let them do things for you, your husband and your beautiful boys! That was a hard one for me to learn, but such a blessing once I finally embraced it.

    We are all praying hard and thinking of you… every single minute. Relax and rest, and promise you won’t push yourself too hard.

    You’re such a fighter– you make us so proud.

    Love love love xoxo

  4. yes, less is more. we need to help you remember that 24/7, not only once in a while.

    you might think of it this way:

    less now, more later.

  5. debra says:

    Beautiful. The most important things are made so clear in times like these.

    Embrace them.


  6. Colleen says:

    Such a beautiful post.

  7. Aliki says:

    Less can certainly be more, and be powerful and fulfilling, too. This was beautiful, so wonderfully expressed.

  8. Kim says:

    It is isolating, isn’t it? This is something I didn’t expect. Like you, I am lucky to be surrounded on all sides by strong, loving, supportive people. But even so, there is still a strong sense that this is something you and I have do to on our own. While they can support our fight and our efforts, they can’t fight for us.

    You said that you don’t feel that you are achieving something of greatness each day, but you are. And you said it yourself. Fighting the cancer and loving your babies is achieving greatness and life and love. Don’t forget that, and hang in there.

  9. Less IS more. Keep fighting and stay strong. Rest.

  10. MammaLoves says:

    And in your simple words you give us so much.

    You fight WhyMommy. You fight. You fight with your love.

  11. Joanna says:

    Vibes of strength and peace to you as you pull through this, and you will…

  12. KC says:

    Everything else can and should wait. You are doing incredibly important work.

  13. carrie says:

    Absolutely! It seems that no matter what we’re doing, we always think it’s not enough – no matter if we’re tackling a mjor life change or just trying to live each day as the best momma possible. We need to remember that it IS enough. We ARE doing a fantastic job and the fact that we even think about it at all speaks volumes.

    You keep fighting. You are doing your best. Enjoy watching that little one reach and grasp (we called it “raking”) — such a precious age!

  14. Tara-Lynn says:

    You are so right….just slow down and fight this awful disease.

    Stay strong, girl!

  15. kgirl says:

    You got it, sister.

  16. Rose100 says:

    On the contrary, it *is* going well.
    Because you are fighting, even while you don’t think you are. Simply realizing that the fight is number one priority right now makes you way ahead.
    Do less. Fight more.
    You’re going to win this thing.

  17. Melene says:

    That is so true and so important for you to realize. I too believe you will make it through this. Praying for you to be strong, have energy and find joy in places you least expect it.

  18. Daisy says:

    Do you consider yourself a giving person? A generous person?

    I’m asking, because I am myself, and I find it extremely hard to let others give to *me*. But, giving and receiving is a two-way street.

    Let people love on you a little bit and serve you and your family. If you’re involved in a church or other religious group, one of the tenents of that faith (I’m sure) is serving. If you’re not up for grocery shopping, order it online! Let the high schoolers around you mow your lawn and let the ladies around you help clean your house while you sit and let Little Bear reach for toys with you!

    You couldn’t have said it any better yourself — you need to focus on the important things, and that is getting well, your husband and family.

    Just my .02 — praying for you!

  19. Kat says:

    Wow…beautifully written. Hang in there…this too shall pass.


  20. Linda Sue says:

    Amen sweet girl – you are the world to those babies and we are praying for you every day. It is OK to spend time living – if life right now is lots of rest and loving your family – that is the right thing to do.

  21. bon says:

    the hardest maxim, i think, less is more…what a beautiful post, Whymommy.

    now rest, ‘kay? more later. rest now.

  22. Cari says:

    Just checking in on you tonight and hoping that you are doing okay. Your post reminded me of one of my favorite lullabys for Luna and Foo: “Things less important will just have to keep…while I rock a bye my baby to sleep.” Really just thinking of you and praying for you and knowing “less is more” is easier said than done some days.

  23. motherofbun says:

    You’ve learned in a few weeks what it takes most people a lifetime to understand, oh wise one.

    Am praying for you. Am cheering. “Rest, WhyMommy, Rest!”

  24. Kristin says:

    I keep rereading this. I’ve probably spent more time reading it than you spent writing it, but I can’t help it. It’s beautiful.

  25. This is beautiful and oh so true. Easy to understand, though, and hard to live for me.

    I like the saying from a comment above, “less now for more later.”

    I also know sometimes when you’re sick, though, you worry a bit about later.

    So yeah, less is more. What matters most. What is a must.

    You confessed like me you are a neat freak. AMEN sistah! One of the hard things for me to do is lessen my standards for clean and tidy, let go of the broom. Doesn’t that sound oh-so-petty? But somehow a clean and tidy house can represent so much more than a Martha Stewart life.

    It can mean: nothing’s gonna get me down, I’m not less, I have control

    So I guess maybe I don’t sound quite as petty LOL.

    You hang in there wise lady. Less is more. Yeah I have to learn this, first, for real, I think before relearning it.

    This I will tape to my wall, “Right now, fighting the [insert my disease] is what I need to do. Loving my babies is what I need to do. Appreciating my family is what I need to do. Everything else can wait.”

    P.S. We haven’t got the same disease but so much of what you say resonates for me sitting here in my boat. So thank you.

  26. twithhoney says:

    I’m so proud of you. The isolation, the frustration, the doing less is getting to you. It sucks! But at the same time you know exactly what you need to be doing and why.

    Remember, just like the tortoise and the hare… slow and steady wins the prize. The pace may seem agonizingly slow but it does give us a little time to enjoy the scenery. Hang in there!

  27. NoRegrets says:

    Acceptance of such a thing is strength. good for you.

  28. Matt says:

    What you said –
    “Right now, fighting the cancer is what I need to do. Loving my babies is what I need to do. Appreciating my family is what I need to do. Everything else can wait.”

    What Kim said –
    “Fighting the cancer and loving your babies is achieving greatness and life and love.”

    Enough said. (Beautifully, by both of you.)

  29. Stimey says:

    It’s hard to stop moving, especially coming off bedrest and especially when you’re such a mover and a shaker. It’s hard to learn to say yes to help and no to overextending yourself. Do what you need to do to get through this and then later you can go, go, go! You’re right, everything else CAN wait.

  30. abarclay12 says:

    Man, hang in there. I stumbled across your blog this morning, and I’ve been reading for awhile. I love your writing. You have a gift. I love your kids’ names too. So cute. They’re lucky to have such a cool mom. I’m thinking of you.

  31. Jillene Freis says:

    I got this blog address from your dad and brother John. John is living in the same condo as my daughter Natasha in Portland.
    I am a hospital pharmacist with extensive practice in pain management. I have a chemotherapy unit in my practice. I am fully aware of IBC and it’s differences with other types of breast cancer. I am contacting you because John was talking to Natasha about your difficulty with pain and I may be able to help
    I have privately counseled many patients through their pain course.
    If you would like to contact me I have given all my numbers to your Dad and John. I’m available 24/7. Pain does not always wait until daylight. Please feel free to contact me at any time. I REALLY mean that.
    Best of luck to you.

  32. MsRebecca says:

    Hang in there, I know that probably doesn’t help much but I have put you at the top of my prayer list.

  33. “Less is more.” That is a life lesson for us all, not just you. As you have realized though, it is a hard lesson to learn even in the most dire circumstances such as yours. I have no helpful advice since I am not good at doing less either. But I guess that coming to the realization that “less is more” is the first step, right? Hooray for first steps! Each tiny step in your coping with this, we shall all celebrate with you.

  34. Kristen says:

    It took me having three kids before I finally learned to ask for help and receive it even the times when I didn’t ask for it. And you really do good when you allow people to help you out. You can pay it back later, but for now just take care of yourself. Right now, that’s your job. Be well…

  35. clifford says:

    Watching/reading you fight back gets me all fired up. We are nearing touchdown-dance territory here. 🙂

  36. Scylla says:

    I can understand how frustrating it is to move from the land of over-achieving, to the land of simply getting by. However, you will achieve more by letting your self rest and heal, than you would by winning the Nobel Prize.
    Love yourself, let go, and just breathe.

  37. Ally says:

    I love how these moments of pure wisdom are coming to you, and how we can all learn from what you are going through. Less is more, indeed. For all of us, but for you now more than ever. I’m so glad you’re giving yourself permission to rest so that you can fight, fight, fight.

    Prayers and love your way.

  38. ewe_are_here says:

    Fighting the cancer and loving your family are everything right now. ‘Else’ is trivial in the scheme of life right now and can wait. Including frustration.

    Sending you positive thoughts.

  39. mo-wo says:

    gotta be some of the toughest days. remember that to do is just that ‘to do’… it can be much ado.

    restore. rebuild.

    slowly slowly wins the race. love to you and the babies. praying for you.

  40. tori says:

    You are so amazing, and so right. Love your family, fight the cancer, that is all you need to do. There will be plenty of time for everything else later.

  41. mamalang says:

    That slowing down is what was so hard for my MIL…it’s almost cruel at times, how little you can actually do. I’m glad that you have that love to give to keep you focused on the fight.

  42. ggirl says:

    Chemo is tough, no doubt about it. I’ll never forget how hard it was to stop myself mentally and remember to move slowly. I’d move quickly for three minutes and pay for it the rest of the day. Towards the end of my six months, I don’t think I was even really here. It was hard to find the “me” inside all of that pain.

    I’m so so sorry for all of this suffering you’re enduring. I know the path you’re walking. It’s hard and lonely, no matter how many people love you or how supportive they are. You’re in my prayers.

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