A very wise woman told me at the beginning of my journey to be authentic.
As a mom, my job has always been to protect my children. Sometimes, I took that role a little too far and sugar coated hurt and disappointment that needed to be experienced. But sugar coating a cancer diagnosis that would be a life long effort to stay alive from was getting exhausting.
There are three young adult children on this journey and from the beginning I have led the cheerleading squad, at the same time trying to figure out how to be honest, but was I?
I don’t think I have my own head wrapped around it all, so when one of the squad wants to share their grief on the matter, there are times it is just too overwhelming, because I am the cause of their concern. I don’t think I am really listening, instead trying to think up good responses to keep them motivated and away from any pain.
Let’s be authentic here, cancer treatment and all the complications that come with it do not make a cute head cheerleader at times. Mom just doesn’t feel well somedays and that can be scary because Mom always takes the time to look like she is. I was having a hard time letting them in when I was down, going as far as to keep them away from my hospital stays, because I can’t bear them to see me ill.
I am still trying to understand and instill that wise woman’s words into my life. I’ve come to realize she knew me too well and maybe wasn’t just talking about cancer. Oh the ways I’ve always made bad things look pretty. Maybe she wanted ME to be more authentic. Let the kids, hubby, friends and family in when times don’t look so pretty. And really, how unfair of me to not give my children the chance to show me their strengths.
So I started to listen….
My only daughter, “Mom, I am so filled with anxiety that you might not be here for my wedding or children and I can’t picture my life without you in it.”
A son, “Mom, are you keeping a secret that maybe you know how long you have to live and you’re not telling us?”
To my daughter, I am devastated at that thought too, so I understand. Let’s own that hurt, but I am grateful to have this time to watch you become strong enough to face whatever adversity you have in your life. Please come to me when these feelings become overwhelming for you so we can cry together. But let’s not ever give up hope because we don’t know what the future will bring. Can we promise each other to do our best in getting there? Mom will keep fighting, promise.
To my son, sorry I was cheering so loud you thought I was covering up my expiration date. I do not know that, but if I did, I promise I would never lie to you. I’m sorry you had to go around thinking that I did. I am so encouraged in the way new treatments are coming along that I might not ever hear those words from my Doctor.
Going forward kids, I’m going to try and find my authentic self, she might look like a mess somedays, but I will let you be the part the makes me feel better.
I might just find out that all three of you are strong enough to handle your fears and manage them, without Mom sprinkling sugar or doing a leg kick in the air. (I’m known for those mom kicks).
I don’t know if that wise woman will ever know, but her words went far beyond cancer for me.