The hardest part about having cancer (for me) is dealing with the dichotomies. At once, I feel tired and weak, but I must be strong for my son. I feel nauseated, but I must help him eat his chicken nuggets and try new foods. I feel like curling up in my bed and crying, but I must help him to go sleep instead, keeping him company until he drops off to dreamland. I feel insecure, alone, and afraid, but I must reassure him that I am always here for him, and I will always keep him safe.

I want to lie on the couch and rest, but I also want to stand up and dance with my little boy. To be quiet and alone, but also to sing silly songs with him at the top of my lungs. To nestle into my own bed and be comforted, but also to comfort.

Being a Mommy and a person with cancer brings new twists to both roles, and I struggle with them sometimes.

Like when my two-year-old takes off my Buff (scarf) at bedtime and says, “no sleep in hat,” but I don’t feel secure without it. When he pats my right side and says, “it’s okay, Mom,” but it feels like my world is ending. When he looks up at me with those bright blue eyes and asks, “Mama hurt?” and I just pick him up and hug him in response.

Most of the time, we play, we make music, we build, and we sing, and the pain and hurt are not a part of our lives together. But sometimes, I have a really bad day, and it’s not something I can ignore or pretend away.

I feel terrible about it. I feel just awful if I let him know in any way that something is wrong. But often, if I wince or slow, or pause too long while we’re playing to let a spasm pass, something unexpected happens. My busy two-year-old runs over to me, pats me gently, and says, “It’s okay, Mom.”

And, all of a sudden, it is.


47 Responses to Widget

  1. Joanna says:

    Oh my heart – this is a moving post, WM. I think it’s hard to parent when you feel well and healthy but are having a tired day, or an ‘off day.’ You rock your boys’ world, all that you are doing as Mama and cancer survivor. Because they are dichotomies, but you are indeed both. Strength to you tomorrow and every day thereafter —

  2. Jacquie says:

    There it is WhyMommy. There it is! Your Widget sounds like one smart little man!

  3. here with you, in contradiction and lightness and dark.

  4. kgirl says:

    I believe you when you say that this is the hardest part. I don’t doubt it at all. But I also don’t doubt the healing power of a two year old. That’s got to be the strongest medicine there is.

  5. Surviving says:

    Sometimes there is nothing more healing and needed then one of your children sympathizing with you and telling you everything will be okay.

  6. Colleen says:

    Oh, how blessed you are. (perhaps a strange thing to say to someone fighting cancer?) But, I just felt had a sudden sense of just how blessed you are. What an amazing boy. You fight… and you’ll be ok… because he says so.

  7. BetteJo says:

    Kids need to feel safe, but there is nothing wrong with them knowing that Mommy has bad times too. The compassion of a child is so huge – and it’s something they need to be allowed to express. It’s lovely really. Imagine the feeling for him – to be able to make Mommy feel a bit better! That part is a gift to him, at least that’s what I believe. I also believe you’ve got great instincts and they will carry you through!

  8. Izzy says:

    It’s amazing how children can give you the strength to get through things you never thought you could. But you’re incredible in your own right because of your attitude and that’s an invaluable asset. Wishing you more and more better days 🙂

  9. E :) says:

    You are an amazing mother.

  10. Tracy says:

    Everything has a flipside…and each side is ok in its own way…May you find strength in small ways, even small things, like your son. ((HUGS))

  11. ~JJ! says:

    I know you know this, and I know it’s hard to be away from the babies…But you need your rest too. Without it, your body can’t repair itself.

    hugs. I wish I could come help.

  12. Angela says:

    So sweet already! What a sweetheart you have!

  13. Robin says:

    What a wonderful gift, for both of you.

    And holy smokes, you made stroller derby!

    Stroller Derby
    ! What an amazing job your post is doing to get the word out about IBC!

  14. Robin says:

    Ok, so my html skills aren’t what they should be. Nevermind, you get the point LOL.

  15. Wow; what an awesome post. Again. That little Widget is pure Angel.

  16. He’s learning empathy and compassion at a very young age…and it’s never too early to learn these important, important values.

  17. When my eldest daughter was two, one of my good friends was undergoing treatments for breast cancer. We travelled to visit her as often as we could, and my wee girl would take her security blanket along with us, and let my friend cuddle it to her chest while we sat with her on the porch in the sunshine. Kathy always said that the loving kindness of a little girl was even MORE healing than the medicine.

    Your Widget sounds like QUITE a little man. You are clearly in incredibly good hands!! xo CGF

  18. Bon says:

    tears in my eyes, Whymommy. i think you’re doing a beautiful job of what must be an excruciating balance…but i also think, like the others have said, that it’s okay to let Widget know sometimes that you’re having a really hard time. you’re giving him the chance to give reciprocally of his sweet little heart, to use his compassion and develop his empathy. and i am sorry for the circumstances, making that necessary…but i do not think it will harm him, not at all. he will be the son of a cancer survivor, and he will know how to care for someone in ways that will serve his humanity well.

    here, listening and caring too.

  19. Emily says:

    I think you are amazing to be able to hide it at all from your son. To be able to give when you would have every right just to take.

  20. Gill says:

    I know it’s not the same at all, but I had similar emotions when my 22yo brother was killed in a car accident and my youngest was 7 months old. So many conflicting emotions.. All I can offer is cyber hugs, wish there was more.

  21. Kristin says:

    This is beautiful.

  22. Wow, WhyMommy. This was incredibly moving. But your guy sounds very much as if he is up to the challenge. He’s a sweetheart.

    Hugs to you, strong and brave and kind mama!

  23. deb says:

    My youngest does the same for me when I’m having a bad day, she pats me on the back or rubs my back and I feel better. It’s amazing how much kids understand intuitively. It sounds trite to say this but your boys will other things from you. Things like compassion, empathy, kindness, patience. It doesn’t make anything better, I’m sorry, I wish I could make it all better. Take care, sweetie.

  24. Jen E says:

    Children are so intuitive. HUGS!!!

  25. There is something both painful and joyful when a child suddenly says something that makes you think that they are very grown up. As my favorite poet Jane Kenyon once wrote, “the soul’s bliss and suffering are bound together like the grasses”

  26. maggie says:

    I have so many of those feelings, and I don’t have cancer. Parenting is hard. And doubly, triply so for you. Strength and peace to you.

  27. Linda Lawrence says:

    Just want you to know we are thinking of you! Wish we could take your pain!

    Love ya,
    🙂 🙂

  28. ohamanda says:

    It is OK, whymommy! What a great gift God has given you! Children that already know what it means to comfort. And to support. Beautiful post. Always praying.

  29. whymommy says:

    This is reassuring. I know in my heart I’m doing the best I can for him. but I still cry myself to sleep at night sometimes. And sometimes, there is no sleep, and the light finds me in the morning still sad and worried about my children’s childhood.

    It was supposed to be so full of nature and free of cares….

  30. Jenster says:

    Oh honey. You stir such emotions in me with your posts. I remember waiting until the kids went to bed to go have my meltdown – my husband worked out of state and was only home every other weekend. I wanted with everything for him to hold me or rub my back or cry with me or something. But mostly I was alone. It was the hardest, most horrible period in my life. But at the same time, my kids made everything better. They were older than yours (10 and 13) and sometimes THEY tucked me in at night and made sure I was okay.

    You’re right. It IS supposed to be full of nature and free of cares. And I believe it will be again. Cry when you need to, take comfort in your blessings right now, and be assured that it WILL get better. As hard as all ths is for you, you’re children won’t suffer ill-effects from this. I promise you.

    And you got to take a trip to Annapolis!! That’s awesome. :o)

  31. Oh, I’m so sorry you’re experiencing all of this. I pray that you find comfort in your little one each and every day!

  32. canape says:

    “I feel terrible about it. I feel just awful if I let him know in any way that something is wrong.”

    But he does know. And if you don’t share it with him, it becomes something to fear. I know this because the more my mother hid her side effects and pain from me, the more frightened I became. When she let me in, I was comforted.

    Let him in, S. He already knows you are sick. Even at 3, he is capable of having an honest relationship with you. He has shown you that.

  33. Jennifer says:

    What an amazing boy you have there! He’s helping kick cancer’s butt with you.

  34. Mrs. Chicken says:

    I can only imagine what this feels like. If I am even the littlest bit upset, The Poo always comforts me.

    I am so glad you have them, and they you. Thinking of you and your fighting spirit all the time. All the time.

  35. Kelly says:

    I’m not even certain how to respond to this — so elegant and so filled with emotion — other than to write and say I’m listening. I’m sorry that you have to endure this, but I’m so glad that you have the sweetness of your family to grant you some comfort.

  36. just a mom says:

    How sweet and scary and brave and real you are.

  37. christine says:

    you are so so lucky to have that little guy. and he is so so lucky to have you.

  38. Jenn says:

    Since the first time I read your blog, you were in my thoughts at the oddest times. At three in the morning when I looked at the ceiling, while driving, while in a meeting, suddenly, there you were. And of course, over the last week; it was you that I thought of constantly, but without fail, what always brought me to tears was looking at the A’s and thinking of you.

    The tears were for your strength and courage and from imagining what it must be like, to be you, beating the crap out of cancer and also having to live here and now, and be the mom that you are.

    As ever, I’m in awe of you. As always, I’m praying for you.

    Keep the faith. Keep the faith. Keep the faith.

  39. I agree that it is fine to let him in and know you hurt but can still play, albeit with breaks. He clearly reads you loud and clear. And even if he didn’t, especially if he didn’t, he needs to know any limitations are due to your illness and not due to him.

  40. Katherine says:

    It’s amazing how much grace children have. You’re a great mom.

  41. ohthejoys says:

    That sounds really hard, friend. It does seem like you ought to have a license to be selfish whenever you want one and then… the little one calls and what are you to do. So hard.


  42. Scylla says:

    It is so hard, and at the same time so touching to have your children care for you. I have suffered from really wretched migraine’s for years, and I never understood how it affected my family until I was lying on the couch one day with one and my daughter crept into the room. She was holding a cool cloth, which she placed over my eyes, and calmly said, “I am sorry you have so many headaches mama.”
    I was so proud of her for being so caring, so touched to receive her care, and so sad and angry that my four year old recognized that there was something wrong with me, and that it affected her life as much as it did.
    I will never forget that feeling. I can sympathize with the depth at which you must be feeling it.
    You are still in my thoughts every day.

  43. ohgrammy says:

    Even on a bad day, Widget and Little Bear are oh so lucky to have you as their mom. Widget knows that already. Let that warm your heart as you drift off to a restful sleep tonight.

  44. coolbeans says:

    I’m always reading, always praying. Believing that your sons will grow to be wonderful men and you will be there to say, “Whew! I guess that worked out after all.”

  45. Ana says:

    Inspiration and courage is drawn from some of the smallest places…our children. What an amazing little man you have! But you are amazing too and it’s only fitting he would be just as amazing.

  46. Tara-Lynn says:

    Stay strong girl – you sound like an amazing Mommy!

  47. Ally says:

    I think it’s okay to let them see you’re hurting sometimes. They are learning so much from you, in every way, including how to empathize and comfort. These are good skills! I’m thinking of you tonight, WM, and saying my daily prayer for you before bed.

%d bloggers like this: