There is something exquisitely painful about holding it together for the sake of my kids while I’m falling apart. I want to clutch my daughter to my chest and bury my face in her curls, inhaling her sweet baby scent so I can carry it with me. I want to stare deeply into my son’s eyes and tattoo my love on his brain so he never forgets.
But instead I pack lunches and find matching socks and retrieve fallen mittens and drop the kids off at daycare like it’s any other Tuesday. A quick hug and a wave and they’re off playing with their buddies, oblivious to the fact that I’m heading to the hospital instead of the office.
The mundane is excruciating and necessary.
The what-ifs I carry are too heavy for them. I don’t hide the reality of my illness from them but I’ve made it my mission to protect them from my anxiety. Cancer will be a part of their lives forever; I can’t undo that. But what I can do is make it less scary for them. Blood tests, trips to the cancer centre, scan results, and a whole team of medical professionals will be routine. The word cancer will not evoke terror. Worry and concern will not be minimized (in our house we feel our feels) but we will not allow them to consume our every thought.
My hope is that in making cancer less scary for my babies, I will make it less scary for myself. My fake-it-til-you-make-it approach to living with a serious illness while raising small children is as selfish as it is selfless. Their ingrained optimism and innocence is the perfect counter to my nervous mind. The way they bound through the day, boisterous and enthusiastic and unencumbered by disquiet, inspires me to live life a little less apprehensively.
Being my babies’ mom is chaotic and raucous and beautiful. I like to think that I’m teaching them but the reality is they are teaching me. And so, side by side, we will continue to learn and we will thrive. We will hold it together, together.
Have an opinion? A story to tell?
Something you’d like to get off your chest?