Momming with Cancer: Volume I

It’s 9:03 pm and we’ve been “putting Dane to bed” since 7:30 pm. As far as success levels are concerned for our “putting child to bed skills” – we’re batting under .100 (I just walked down to the Brewer game so the comparison felt right.)

The last few weeks of bedtime have been brutal for us and I’m not going to lie… it’s wearing us DOWN. Here’s a quick night in the life which I’m guessing a ton of you can relate to so this is not new or unique, but I need to express these emotions.

It starts with dinner, a popsicle (used as a bartering tool if dinner was consumed to at least 40%), snuggle time aka jump off couch into pillow pile consisting of every pillow in house, jump like a frog all around wood floor and face plant no less than 10x, request/scream for ban-band (band-aid), kick parents “on accident” repeatedly until time-out is threatened, finally calm down and head up to brush teeth first by parents, practice brushing teeth on own accord (swallow as much toothpaste as possible), story time and snuggles – all is calm, all is right in the world….

Turn out the light (toddler MUST help with this, and if not screaming ensues)

Cry and beg relentlessly for parent to lay down. Parent gives in because of exhaustion and also pure weakness. Time for yoga and gymnastics! How about downward dog? Smack head on wall – request ban-band. Maybe we should try to learn how to somersault off the bed? Parent gives up after being repeated smacked either in the eye or balls (sorry Case) and retreats to rocking chair. Finally, after seemingly 5 hours, parent army-crawls to the door and sneaks out. Breaths easy for 10 minutes and then somehow, for some unknown reason – Dane is at the door whining for the “winning” parent to lay down again. Parents take turns telling 2 year old Voldemort to “get back into bed” 1,357 times until a complete meltdown ensues resulting in total exhaustion and victory for the parents. Sometimes it’s an hour, sometimes it’s 4…. this is life right now.

Parenting is freaking hard. Know what’s harder? Parenting with cancer. It sucks.

Let me rephrase… parenting with cancer is hard at times during the day – other times, I look at my child and melt because he is literally the perfect angel sent from God. He saves me on a daily basis – I mean that.

I’ve been at this 8 weeks now and have found out a lot about my journey as a parent. I’ve been put to the test with patience, communication and just trying to keep up to our busy little man.

I wanted to take a couple minutes to share some of the things we’ve done as a family to help Dane cope with my cancer diagnosis and treatment. I know some of you reading this are either going through cancer yourself, or know someone close to you that is and might find some of this helpful. First of all, I want to say that I feel so lucky for many reasons:

  1. He is only two, and will likely not remember a ton of this
  2. We are able to keep his schedule and routine relatively normal
  3. He is smart and has picked up on the fact that something is off, and shows mama extra love a lot
  4. Casey, our families, and I are completely on the same page with transparency when it comes to the cancer and Dane knowing about it. This one is very important to me because I think it will help him develop empathy – which we’ve already seen, more on that later.

Ways We’re Making it Easier

The Haircut: I’ve gotten some questions about this. Most of you know that my hair was not only my one true love (j/k), but it was longggg. As of now, I’m rocking peach fuzz so it was quite the drastic change. To make the transition easier for Dane, we picked a date for the buzz cut and hyped it up big time. We told Dane mama would be getting a new haircut soon and made it seem like this big event. We also did it at home on our patio (the original plan was to have my friend/hairdresser cut it but she happened to be out of town on vacation at the time so Option B was the way to go.)

This next thing is uber important: we got Dane involved. We let him help daddy carefully cut my long ponytail, as well as the clippers to buzz portions of the hair off. We laughed a lot (I deserve and Emmy for that performance, as I was sort of dying inside) as the hair fell and let Dane play in it and make a big mess all over the place. We asked him lots of questions during the process and all talked about how much we loved the new haircut. After it was finished, I took a shower, put on some makeup and we took pictures. It was such a special night. To this day – he will tell me he loves my haircut out of nowhere and loves to run his fingers across the fuzz. The experience has been incredible even though my heart broke when the hair fell.

Side note: If you are going through this – TAKE PICTURES. I am so happy my sister was on hand to snap shots of every step of the way and I love my “I did it” pic so much.

Transparency: From the day that I had my power port placed in my chest, we’ve been very open with D about my owies, at first, mostly because he is a monkey and had to be careful, but now because we want him to know what’s going on. Of course he doesn’t really get it, but we think it’s important nonetheless.

One of the best things that has helped is when Dane came home from a sleepover at my in-laws house with a Dr. kit. Yes – the Fisher Price one from the 80’s that we all had – and this one is the actual vintage one from Casey and his brother’s childhood. My MIL taught Dane to play doctor and “fix mommy’s owies”. He takes my blood pressure, listens to my heart and often asks to see and kiss my owies. I’m blown away by the amount of care and empathy he shows towards me during this time, and also when I mention to him I need a break or need to sit down. This is certainly a silver lining situation in this whole world of suck and I am thankful for it.

Being on the same page: Wow is this one important. While we navigate the terrible two’s – and also my sometimes fatigue, irritability and non-stop emotional mess status, we try so hard to parent as a team. This means figuring out which battles to fight, when to say no, when to give in and mostly, when and how to discipline (ugh). We’ve learned to ease up on caring too much when there is a mess being made or a spill, or sidewalk chalk ends up all over new shoes. THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO WASTE ENERGY ON. I also have to give the biggest shoutout to Casey for taking the absolute brunt of all of this – and with superhero power. Many nights of rough and tumble bedtime routines fall to him, in addition to “around the house” things, and I couldn’t be more grateful. He is showing our son how to be a loving husband and an overall good man and I am so thankful for him.

Overall, parenting with cancer has proven to be a delicate balancing act with no safety net. Lucky for me, I have a ton of people willing to step in and catch me. If you are going through this, I am with you – if you are struggling, you’re not alone.

Have the best weekend. xo

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Wisconsin wife and mama to Dane (4) and expecting baby girl in May. Navigating life post-cancer. Lover of food, red wine and laughs. Forever grateful for my wonderful life.

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