Meeting Life’s Challenges

Yes, I was able to have my chemo this week.  My white blood count was at 4,500 (not the supreme ideal of 9,600 that it was a few weeks ago…  But good enough).

It was a LONG ass day (for a bunch of reasons) and I ended up being there from 10:30am till 4:30pm.  Pretty much the whole day.  And of course it was the one time I didn’t pack a lunch so I subsisted on fruit, almonds, and some free peanut butter crackers they had on hand (that were not on my approved diet list – but at that point I really didn’t care).

I did have my monthly Zometa medication (the one that strengthens my bones).  Last month it left me shivering and shaking uncontrollably for hours on end.  We were expecting a repeat performance last night…  but thankfully it did not appear.  I’ve heard from other breast cancer warriors who had Zometa that the same thing happened to them – The first time was the hardest and then it subsequently got much easier.

Today I am week.  I am tired.  But feeling ok.

I am noticing the toughest thing for me to do is be a good parent to Miss M.

Everything else – no problem…  Dinner – i got that.  Dishes – i can handle.  Exercise – i can still do it.  But dealing with Miss M and all her toddler tantrums and defiance…  God, that takes a lot of energy.  To enforce the rules.  To be consistent.  To come up with creative ways to get her to do what I want her to do.  To beat her at her own game.  You have to be so on the ball.  And I am just not these days.

I am super thankful for my visitors (many of whom are also moms) that give me tips and show me new ways of parenting.  I am thankful for their energy – when I have none.  I am thankful for their ideas – when my chemo brain robs me of my own.  I am thankful for their guidance – because my own mother is no longer here to offer it.

This week my childhood friend “Auntie A” is here with her 3 year old daughter.  It’s beautiful having them here.  Auntie A is an amazing parent, full of energy, and totally devoted to being a great mom.  She’s wonderful with Miss M.  And I am learning a lot from her.

And after a week without ‘in home’ help I am thoroughly grateful to have someone here who can help me get everything done – all while exchanging parenting woes and catching up on the mysteries of life.

I know now that I need to get myself some permanent help around the house.  But it’s so difficult.  Because I feel like I am losing my ability to be a really good parent.  And I don’t know what to do about it.  It hurts me to think that I have to hire someone to do the number one most important thing to me – parent my daughter.  I hate the cancer for that.  For robbing me of my ability to be the kick-ass mom I used to be.

Throughout all the turmoil of the last few years – my mom’s passing, the endless moves, new people, new situations – I have been Miss M’s only constant.  Her rock.  And now I am coming apart at the seems.  How does this not impact her?  How do you process all these major life changes with a toddler?

Aaahhhh….  Life’s challenges.  They’re never ending.  And the answers are not always immediately visible or available.  I guess the key is to not give up.  To keep searching.  Keep pushing forward.  And then just hope for the best.

Peace.  – T


16 Responses

  1. Terri- you’re an awwwesome Mom- you were meant to be a Mom and Miss M is one of the loveliest kids I’ve ever met because of you! It’s just that toddlers are insane!

    Now one concrete thing that helped me get through year 2 was the “Fast Food Rule” by Dr. Karp- I think the book is- “Happiest Toddler on the Block”- you’ve probably already got it. But if not here’s the rule. It’s called the golden rule of communication and it works on my husband too to be honest. When your child/ husband is upset, you should take a lesson from the order-takers at McDonalds— always repeat back their “order” (what they want) before you tell them what you want them to do. The idea is that no matter who you are you just want to be heard and validated. I do it all the time and it’s helped break through the communication barrier and we’ve had a lot less tantrums from both my toddler and my husband- seriously- give it a try!

    But also know that you’re AWESOME!


  2. You are an amazing mommy – don’t ever ever forget that.. Miss M is doing great and you are too- toddlers are just testing their boundaries and being the cheeky monkies that they are they know what power they have from an early age. it must be so hard – but keep strength in believing you are doing amazing job and Miss M is becoming a stronger little person because of it too and the relationship that you have is so tight and so strong that it will never ever break… u are a truly wonderful mommy honey xxxxx

  3. Ditto, ditto, and ditto… You ARE and ALWAYS will be one of the most amazing, telepathic, creative mothers I have EVER met, cancer or no cancer. And I’ve met a lot. Cancer is dictating many things in your life but it IS NOT who you are nor will it ever be. It can NEVER take away from the SOLID sense of love your daughter feels each and every day. It can NEVER change the fact that Marisa is one of the most intelligent, engaging, super confident and wisest souls ever born. That is mostly due to YOU and how you and Heron have dedicated your lives to her.
    At the same time- she is in the throws of the terrible twos, like it or not. Tired or not. Sick or not. So being the phenomenally perceptive mother you are, you are recognizing the need for help. Not to REPLACE you my love, but to ensure Marisa gets the time and energy all children need.
    Ok, so because of cancer, you can’t give her that attention all the time. But Terri, it would also have happened if you had taken that social work job almost 40 minutes away. You would not only NOT have had the energy, you wouldn’t have been the one and only in her life ANYWAYS. Granted, cancer is a far worse card to draw than a career, but the damn fates have forced you down this path.
    Please be gentle on yourself my love. I so recognize that damn Rubbicco “not good enough” mantra playing in your head. Remember Winnicott’s “good enough mothering” philosophy. Your daughter is receiving just that from you and all who love her, and it will and is SO “good enough”.
    I love you…

  4. Terri, you know you are an amazing mom, right? Really…it is the ones who don’t worry or second guess themselves who should be. Being a mother is sometimes as unique as each individual journey we find ourselves on, and just because this path is different than what you expected does not mean you are not “up to par”. It means whatever you make it mean.

    Also, call me if you need food at the hospital again, okay? Or anywhere for that matter. If you knew how many times I answered my phone to “bring me food so I don’t have to eat McDonalds” from my husband per week you would not feel guilty about it at all :)

    I mean it!

  5. we’re going to get you an outfit with a big “S” on the front…
    Super Woman, Super Mom, Super Wife….you’re doing a great job with all that you have to juggle. Don’t be too hard on yourself, take one day at a time. Slow and steady wins the race…save your worries.

    Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere. ~Glenn Turner


  6. I’m being brought up to speed on the situation by Mr. Robinson’s website.
    From your other posts, it seems you really are doing more than you think for the little’un. I hope if I’m in your situation I can do as much for my little son. Here you are keeping the joie de vivre alive, a remarkably important factor all around.
    I don’t envy you, but I envy your strength and wisdom.

  7. Dear Terri,

    I have seen video of Miss M. dancing — and that is all I needed to tell me what a truly amazing mother you are — but it would have been an obvious conclusion anyhow, just on the basis of knowing your mother even if only for a little while. I will also put on my prophetic hat for a moment and tell you as solemnly as I know how: your daughter is destined for the great and the beautiful and the entirely unexpected. She is living in a time when it will be possible for her to know more of you as a loving human being, and more of your thoughts and words and images and hopes and fears for her, than has ever been possible before in all of history. You needn’t spend even an instant worrying about that. She is surrounded by your love, always, for ever, PERIOD — and whatever the circumstances.

    Thinking of you and glad that you could have this next session, and praying for you, every day, always, first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

    Much love to you and your whole family,


  8. Terri, don’t be so hard on yourself, after all I think it does a child good at times to know they are not the center of the universe day after day! She feels your love, and you are showing her how to take care of yourself. This too shall pass and she will be 3, my favorite age, and once again you will be strong, energetic, and everything you were befor cancer ~ ~ I know because it happed to me. Warmest wishes and a big hug. xo

  9. I hope this comment is OK coming from a stranger: being an awesome Mom does not have to mean the same thing as being the Supermom you are used to being.

    You can show your daughter how much you love her even when you can’t keep up with her. You can cuddle and read to her and listen to how her day went and tell her how proud you are from a sickbed even if you can’t be doing the laundry with one hand and cooking dinner with the other. Let someone else clean the house and run the errands so that you can focus on the things that truly matter.

  10. Terri- you are a great mom keeping up with any toddler is hard enough …I know I have one…but to do it while you are going through chemo…wow! All I can say is to hug her every day, tell her you love her and OK ifyou can spend some time just with her. But you’re in a fight everyday and you need to remember that it is OK to focus on yourself… She will understand as long as she feels your love! I feel your love for her from here so she must as well!! Please take care! Thinking of you and sending you my love!!!

  11. Another mom here, and long-time fan of your parents’ writing, and wishing I’d found your blog other than by you being diagnosed with cancer!

    Being a mom is hard; I have one special-needs child who doesn’t appear so to the outside world and one child who is loud and aggressive and clingy. Both are loving, both are brilliant, and sometimes it’s hard to see both of those things through the other stuff.

    Anyway. Another random stranger chiming in, but hopefully helpfully.

  12. I was referred to your Dad’s blog from a mutual friend, and of course he is so proud of you. He posted your blog link.

    I want you to know that you have a friend in me. I support you with prayer and online hugs.

    I am really easy to find online if there is anything that I can do for you. I am home on SS Disability, and almost always online in afternoons and evenings.

  13. Terri, thanks for sharing your journey – the ups and downs. We are thinking of you and you are in all our prayers in Toronto and beyond. Just a quick note about your post, we all have to get help once in a while whether it’s because we work busy jobs, are away from home, have disabilities or just don’t have family or friends that can be there for us all the time. Don’t feel bad about it. Fighting and beating this cancer is a big job and is no different than working full time at an office and hiring a nanny or putting your child in daycare. No shame in getting support so you can do all the things you need to do and still be present and nurturing when you spend time with Miss M. We all know you are a fantastic and loving mother. Love to you all.

  14. Thinking of you today, and hoping it’s a good day, and a good weekend.

    I don’t have children myself so I’m really out there in commenting on this at all. I think that what little people need is to know that they are loved unconditionally. Your little one surely knows that, and knows that she is loved by many people. I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my dear nieces, many of whom are mommas now — you don’t have to be supermom, you don’t have to be the best ever, you just have to love her. And you do, just like your own dear mother loved you. Well, no, not “just like” — you love her in the Terri Luanna way, not the Jeanne way — and that is fine. In fact, it’s wonderful.

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