What is my weakness? I think it's more accurate to question my strengths...yet that is a balancing act, since it varies day by day.
Two nights ago it was a nightmare. The anti-nausea medication John had wasn't strong enough...I guess it was old, or something...anyway, he was up most of the night. He was violently ill. I wanted nothing more than to be able to go comfort him, sit with him, rub his back. But I was basically under Cilly and Neil, so all I could do was lie there with a kid on each arm, and listen. I didn't sleep. The next day, I picked up the new, stronger medicine, and praise to the docs, he has been quite well since taking it!
I can't seem to fully let go, though...when I first read his diagnosis information online, there were scads of nightmare stories about how horrible quality of life was due to the violent illness that Temodar brought on. I remember one daughter writing about her father and how miserable he was on the drug. I stopped reading then. I believe that night was one of many late night break downs...I still think that cancer support hotlines need to have 24 hour volunteers. Who can confine their breakdowns to regular business hours?? I mean, really!!
So extra hours of work because of the grade switch, Back to School Night, and my desire to be the best I can be for the kids in my class + medication fiasco= super tired Momma. Now we get to multiply that times 1 cell phone cut off due to unpaid balance, to the power of $5 in the bank and an empty gas tank, no milk or juice for the kids... oh screw the damn math. I'm just so damn tired of not being able to take care of ourselves! I paid our rent for the first time in about five months. FIVE MONTHS. That is almost half a year. The kindness of strangers, close friends, and sweet acquaintances made that possible. I am so humbled. So grateful. So ashamed that I can't do what we need, find a way to keep us going. And I don't really know what our choices are...where can I cut corners? I see a few places...but would they really make a difference? $40 here $60 there...it does add up...but t.v. gives John something to do when he is tired and ill from the meds. It helps us to entertain the kids when we are too tired and stressed to function...I hate that I use it as a babysitter. I'm embarrassed to admit it. I try to balance that by reading lots to them, now and then. I don't have the energy that I thought I would to read to them and play...I remember when John was in the hospital the first time and I was talking to my friend...I told her that everything was going to change. We had no choice, and I didn't know if I was up to the challenge. Well, I have no choice but to find ways to be.
I just find it to be so important to me, since all of this, to find ways to be the best person I can be. I want to stand on the side of love. I want to help all the little sweethearts in my class feel safe, be willing to make mistakes, to trust me. I worry about my kids. Neil is such a sweetie- so funny and cute and smart and loving. He is such a little bully, too! He beats on his brother and sister, and I need to work with him to teach him how to interact other ways. Aiden and Cilly just run screaming from him when he is in a hitting mood. Cilly is the most beautiful, loving little person! She problems solves like you wouldn't believe, she helps Neil try the potty, brings us the juice and milk from the fridge so that we can help her fill drinks for her and her brothers with minimal effort on our parts, she feeds the cats, helps me cook, and gently rubs my back when it is sore...and she can be so incredibly nasty with her words!! How do I help her balance her temper, love others and stand up for herself, but without venom? And Aiden... oh my little love- my Angel. In moments here and there ever single day, he hates himself. I saw inklings of this when he was younger: he was very surprised to hear me say that all people make mistakes and insisted that he didn't and I didn't...even then mistakes here scary and bad to him...but now, oh now. My sweet angel boy who made me a mommy takes each mistake, no matter how big or small, and stretches it. Each time it even seems I might reprimand him, he says he is horrible, the worst, the most terrible brother and person...he cries and my heart breaks and stops, my breath catches...I want to hit him to hold him to kiss him to show him how amazingly beautiful he is to me. I have reached out to my counselor, his teacher, the school counselor, our minister. I WILL NOT LET HIM KEEP HATING HIMSELF. That is all I can do...my mom and grandmother didn't know what to do with me. They called me horrible names, insulted me, demeaned me, and shamed me. I will not rest while my sweet baby boy does those things to himself.
But I am tired. So tired of having to ask people who are virtual strangers to help me put gas in the car, food on the table...to keep our phones turned on. I am so touched and honored that people choose to help us. I want to make them proud. I want to be responsible. I worry that when I buy clothes, vitamins for me, wine, books for school, that I am being irresponsible...wasting money. I get so mad at myself when I screw up! And it feels like I keep doing that.
I just want to be able to take care of myself and my family.
Why does that seem so hard??? And why is it so hard to gracefully accept the amazingly kind help of others? Why is this such a mess?
I know I am so grateful to be back in the class. My sweet little second graders- what a lovely place to share how to be loving and curious, how to pair frustration with patience and love...and I saw some kids from my class last year. They brought tears to my eyes-- two beautiful young kids, who inquired about me, prayed for me, and grew with me. I still hate that I wasn't allowed to say good bye to my class. They may have needed me, and even if they didn't I needed to try to be there for them. But, in the appropriate use of the term, it is what it is. And just like I love and adore my own children when they drive me nuts, and drive me nuts they do, students that get on my nerves and try my patience are also tenderly in my heart...now and forever.
Every night, in one way or another, I find that I am searching for ways to build strength and hope. I'm ready, if you have it. Perhaps it isn't even the gift of those virtues that I need, but the time to step away from the stress and fear long enough to acknowledge that I am doing an impressive job building them on my own...
In one month, we check on the tumor that is still immeasurable but seems to maybe have grown or changed or done something, if on a tiny scale. Let that month bring good news and a sigh of relief. Bring us hope and time.
Till then, may we walk in the light, and find unusual paths to laughter together...