My Journey through Breast Cancer

On October 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) ... or as we like to call it, extreme measures for a nap (EMFN). For a while, this blog will be my cancer journal. Enter at your own risk.

26 October 2011

the painful truth

I have become a tad overwhelmed by my life lately. Some of it I've done to myself, most of it is a loss of perspective, I'm sure. But I'm discovering that the demands on a woman who is a wife and a mother can oftentimes be too numerous to count.

For instance (prepare for long paragraph): I'm supposed to eat well and feed my children well, plan and cook dinner every night, making sure it is something nutritious and balanced; I'm supposed to drink enough water and not too much soda or too many mochas; I'm supposed to get enough exercise; I need to make sure my children don't watch too much TV, get enough time outside, and constantly come up with creative ways to entertain them, things that will be equal parts fun and educational; I need to sit on the floor and play with them because "this time goes by so fast!"; I need to make sure they get enough sleep, get their diapers changed constantly, and change the sheets on their beds; I have to stay on top of laundry or everyone runs out of everything; The house is supposed to be swept, mopped, vacuumed, dusted, straightened, all tripping hazards removed on a regular basis; I'm supposed to find time to shower, dress, brush my hair and teeth, and preferably before my husband returns home from work; Somewhere in my day I'm supposed to find time to read my Bible, read something for fun, and read something relaxing, because every busy mom needs a break now and then; As keeper of the books I'm required to do everything within the confines of a tight budget, but somehow still be creative about how to feed and clothe my family, never griping and complaining about the things we can't afford; I'm not supposed to eat too much chocolate, no matter how tired or stressed I'm feeling; I'm not supposed to yell at my kids even though for the millionth time that day I'm having to remind them to STOP HITTING YOUR SISTER!; Even though the baby had us up half the night, and I'm tired beyond reason, I'm supposed to be constantly patient, kind, gentle, loving and giving as my daughter once again begins to whine and/or cry over something indiscernible, hold her as long as she wants, even while the baby clings to my legs also longing to be held; somewhere in my day, as leader of a ministry and a holiday boutique, I must also answer the demands of email and the phone, whenever they should strike; I'm told that for sanity's sake I need to find time for my hobbies, but all the while keeping kids away from scissors and knitting needles and easily-tangled skeins of yarn; I need to find time for friends and family, invest in those relationships so they'll last; as an introvert, I absolutely need some time to myself, but most days I'm not even allowed to go to the bathroom alone!; and after a day of being whined at, crawled all over, clung to, pulled on, cried at, demanded of, with clothes covered in snot and spit and tears, I need to have a smile on my face and a happy home for my husband to come home to, preferably smelling of some wonderful dish I have lovingly prepared for dinner. His day has been long too.

My poor husband. He is the one who ends up getting the shaft. By the time he gets home, disheveled hair is the least of my issues. If I'm not curled up in a corner talking to myself, I'm hiding from my children or running screaming from the house (OK, so its not quite that bad, but its getting close!). By the end of the day the last thing I want is one more person requiring something from me, touching me, looking at me. But I carry so much guilt when he is the one who ends up punished for my inability to balance and juggle the millions of balls I've thrown in the air. I know he carries his own heavy loads all day, and I want so badly to be a breath of fresh air ... not a smelly and unwashed heap of anger and weariness and tears.

I'm sure there are some easy answers. I know there are some things I have to let go. Right now, just a week and a half before the boutique, I've let go of vegetables. We're eating leftovers and pancakes for dinner. Tonight Josie had cereal. If only I could buy food for all of us that came in containers like Ella's baby food. I probably could, but I'm sure the budget won't allow it. I've let go of concerted weight loss efforts. I just don't have the mental energy right now. I've let go of TV rules. And we have pajama days sometimes. But, I know order will have to be restored soon. I just wish I could hire a nanny ... and a cook and a housecleaner and an activities director and a childhood development expert and maybe a few handymen to take care of the dead plants, the broken screen door, and Josie's recent art installation, we like to call it "Orange Sharpie goes Wild."

Some might say the answer lies in a better relationship with God. But if I'm being honest, I can't figure out how to get past thinking that its just another thing on my to-do list. That being said, I do a lot of praying. Mostly shaking my fist at the sky while holding a screaming child yelling "please give me strength!"

Perhaps that's the problem. Everything in my life feels like part of a list of responsibilities, tasks to check off. Even the stuff that's supposed to be fun and relaxing and stress-relieving. There's no joy or excitement about anything (another thing I'm supposed to feel about my kids, my ministry, my boutique, my hobbies, etc). I've gone a bit numb, turned on auto pilot. And I'm not quite sure how to get my mojo back. I keep thinking I just need to get past the boutique (it really is a rather time consuming and stressful affair, especially when its right around the corner). But what if, when its over, I'm still on the edge?


Gretchen said...

I think that there is something to say for young moms not having a ministry, being expected to be creative or even expected to have a clean house. It is all JUST TOO MUCH.
I've pretty much given up on good books except on the rare occasion that I have some energy to look at my Kindle. TV shows after kid bedtime are my solace. The sink usually has dishes in it and dusting has become a twice a year necessity. (except for the obvious surfaces.) Joy comes from a good smelling all purpose cleaner spray and a baby sitter that has the sense to tidy up for me while Chris and I are on a date and the occasional play date. Life has had to be whittled down to the bare basics like mostly nutritious food, a mostly clean bathroom, a sometimes clean kids room, clean socks and underwear.
I take comfort in the reality that God doesn't have a list of rules for me to follow. He's there with me whether I do a quiet time or not. (Not.) He forgives us and guides us through our anger, frustration and loneliness. There is always tomorrow and remember that in a couple of short years Josie will be in school and life will find a more sane pace. Right now you are in the thick of toddler baby life. Don't be too hard on yourself and try and expect less from yourself.
Thank goodness that time passes and take comfort that the frantic pace you are facing is short lived.
I'll be back in baby mode in a few short weeks and thankfully Anders will be in school for most of the day. I'm expecting a lot less out of life for the coming months. =0)

Sami Lee said...

Everything you wrote is how I (and I'm sure all mom's!) have felt at various times. In fact, I'm currently feeling like this! I'm praying for you.

joybells said...

Can I copy and paste this to my blog? You just read my mind and heart. And we decided to throw a third in the mix. What was I thinking?

Amanda Hutchison said...

Hey, though you might appreciate this entertaining video about being a parent that I stumbled upon when doing research for my child nutrition project. Good luck, it sounds like life has been just a bit too nuts, hang in there! the pictures are adorable!

Gypmar said...

You are in the absolutely most challenging time right now. Not getting enough sleep is a HUGE physiological thing and it will color your whole life. I always told myself that if I fed the kids and didn't chuck them out the window (as I was often tempted to do), then I could count the day a success. Give yourself grace and know that this is only a season. :)