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.