This week was the first I’ve had alone with my second child, my babykins, 4.5 year old Little Bear, since his brother went off to nursery school three years ago and left us aimless, wondering what to do with ourselves during the day. It was only three hours back then, but what long hours, sitting on the stoop, waiting for brother to come home, trying halfheartedly to entertain ourselves until we got into the groove of pre-preschooler play again.
But this week was different. This week, when Widget went to school and LB waited for his to start, was snuggles and playdoh and friends popping by for a playdate and me pushing myself to drive to an adjacent neighborhood so that we could have a playdate with LB’s first friend that he made all. by. himself at nursery school two years ago, on HIS first day, and that we’ve had playdates with nearly every Monday since. She invited us over, and she’s not really aware of this cancer thing, and I want their friendship to continue. . . so I drove us over there, and I sat on her couch instead of mine, and we had preschooler snacks and juice and milk and it was a lovely couple of hours.
I wouldn’t have not done it for the world, for him, for them, for us. He deserves his own friends, in addition to the kids of Mama’s friends, or the younger siblings of brother’s friends, and I’m so proud of him for making and trying to keep them. So I pushed myself to drive, and to sit, and to drive home, tired. He and I came home exhausted, and we slept all afternoon. He woke four hours later and was upset that “me never go’ed to sleep!” But he had, of course. We had, and a dear friend stepped in to watch my older child so we could keep sleeping, and it was peaceful as we woke up that afternoon.
Sleep has played a big role in our lives this week, as I skipped chemo (it’s my week off), but felt the pressure of the treatment, the forced sleep, the weakness that makes getting up unimaginable, and all of that regardless on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I didn’t know how to explain it, and I raged inside, angry that I couldn’t even feel great on my week off. And then I realized that it was the effects of last week’s chemo, making themselves known as they peaked 5-7 days after treatment. Right on schedule. Whoops.
So apparently the fantastic weekends I’ve been having, paired with the unexpected slowdowns on Wednesday before treatment, are right on for this chemo, although they are backwards from what you’d expect, and from what I expected, from previous treatments. I’m still getting used to this new normal, and really it has felt anything but.
Moments to remember:
On Wednesday, I was so very tired that when Little Bear brought me a stuffed elephant and asked me to play with him, I agreed, suggesting we play with the elephant in the blankets in Mama’s room. Despite not having done much yet that day, I was exhausted, and went to lie down in bed. Bear brought me stuffed animal after stuffed animal, piling them on top of me and tucking them in around me as we played. The soft lamb, the cow and his daddy, the horse and his mommy, all had adventures with us as I rested my body and talked softly with my little boy. It was a beautiful moment, and when I fell asleep, surrounded by the stuffed animals he loves, he climbed quietly down from the bed and found his Daddy downstairs.
Thursday, I fell asleep even earlier, at 11:30 after a visit from a friend and her child, and Little Bear fell asleep with me as we read a chapter from Pippi Longstocking. We slept again all afternoon, and Daddy took Little Bear to pick up brother at school without even waking me. When they returned, I was rested enough to pull out the milk and cookies, and hear all about Widget’s day at school. (It was only a “5,” but that may have been because he asked me what the average was, and that’s what I said.)
Later that night, I was in pain as I put the children to bed. I tried to keep it to myself, but as I turned on my side, I let out a quick cry as the nerves by my spine pinched. Bear crawled down from his bed, and I started to correct him for getting out when he should be staying in, but he turned around and gave me the biggest bear hug, saying, “I want to make you feel better, Mommy.”
Another time this week, as I lay in bed, waiting for the morphine to take effect to relieve the breakthrough pain, Bear and I played with toy cars. He stopped, looked up at the afternoon light, and said, “Mommy, we are so lucky.” What? I had just been silently berating myself at the lack of educational plan for the day, and how crappy a mom I was to parent horizontally again, as J used to say — and at the exact same time he was thinking he was lucky. In this case, he said, it was because we have so many toys. But I heard what he meant loud and clear, and I resolved to cut myself a little more slack for not running races with them outside, or taking them out to great adventures, or even going with my three guys to the grocery store. I’m using my energy for them. I’m reserving my energy for what’s important – for my writing, yes. For my friends, yes. But most importantly, for my children and family, and I am getting pretty good at making every minute count.
And more than anything else, they know, oh, they know, how I love them.
In light of the new Facebook game this week, I’ve been asked several times for the post I wrote decrying status updates as a form of activism, and teasing about bra color instead of real action fighting cancers of all kinds. Here’s the link. Thank you. In the name of awareness….