Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry #23

#23. I’m not my daughter’s biggest fan.

Crazy right? I mean, I thought I was until recently my sister gave me some advice that made me realize I was selling my daughter short.

See, once girls start getting super involved in activities like sports, choir, etc. They have a lot of people telling them whether they’re good or bad. I mean not necessarily in those terms, but depending on how coaches or teachers hand out constructive criticism, it may be interpreted as I’m good or I’m bad.

That’s where I found myself. I found that my daughter who admittedly may have a tough time with constructive criticism was starting to establish her self worth based on the messages from these well intended people.

Well intended meaning I don’t think they were trying to break her down. She actually puts on this tough girl act but she’s really a softy. Also, in general, I think people can find her a little frustrating for a few reasons that are unnecessary to name here. I think you get the point, I realize she’s NOT perfect. And that’s where the problem comes in.

See to get great, I think you have to think you’re great or at least capable of great. So with me recognizing she wasn’t perfect and with coaches and teachers constantly (at least it seemed like it to her) telling her she wasn’t good…what was she supposed to think? That she could be great?

NO. She was feeling beat down and pretty typical for a 12 year old, I started seeing her believing she couldn’t be great.

Then my sister said, you need to act like she hangs the moon. You need to defend her, build her up, tell her she’s great or at least capable of being great and do it publicly. You are her advocate. PERIOD.

I thought I knew that but as a hard working, semi-type A personality, with a knack for coaching and mentoring for professional development, I’m always great at pointing out how to be better, ways to improve, thinking about how to use constructive criticism, or be the bigger person. But my daughter is not my employee, colleague or client. I don’t have to be rational about who she is and who she will become. I should be irrationally passionate about encouraging her to believe in herself and her dreams. I should embarrass her with positivity and support. I should be like a Justin Bieber fan or Taylor Swift or Donald Trump for that matter. Blinded by my own desire to believe in her!

As a grown woman, I know the VOICES in my head are my greatest challenge to believing in myself. For many of us, the voice we hear is not the volleyball coach from 7th grade or our freshman year English teacher. It’s our mom.

So although she may not be perfect and she, like all of us, has room for improvement. I’m not as worried about her performance today as I am about her self esteem for a LIFETIME.

Truth is the reality checks, nit picking and constructive criticism will come. That’s life. But it doesn’t have to come from me.

So yeah, my inconsistent with her serve, turned the wrong way in that dance number, could work a little harder daughter is GREAT. Like many things she believes, I’ve shown her first, that I believe in them. She needs to know I believe in her. BELIEVE that!

Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry #22

I know most mom’s have heard the phrase, “Then I’m not your friend” from their child. I definitely have heard it more than once. And I will confess my answer was always:

#22. That’s right!  I’m not your friend!

That was my pat answer to my daughter. And I probably yelled it back with as much irritation as she had said it first to me. I was that mom set on making sure my daughters realized we were not friends. I was the authority figure, the one in charge and I needed them to know that, especially as a single mom. I know many of us can fall into that ‘hanging with our kids mode’ because they’re who we engage most with – not having another adult around 24/7, but I just didn’t believe that would be beneficial in the end.

And then came MIDDLE SCHOOL. I’m not going to lie – that is like a bad word to me. I’ve even  considered changing the name of this blog to: Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer and a Middle School Girl!  I knew middle school was probably the worst part of growing up, especially as a girl. For the most part, I was pretty popular, but I vividly remember the day everyone turned against me. I was standing in the library in 6th grade and Mrs. Vinn our librarian was consoling me. For whatever reason – which I totally don’t remember, that day, I was public enemy number one. Friendless and very sad.

Now, when I was growing up, 6th grade was not technically middle school, but nowadays and definitely in Texas, it is. And I don’t know about everyone else, but kids seem to be at least 2 years ahead of us in the growing up category. 8 is the new 10, 10 is the new 12 and 12 is the new 15! So all of the middle school drama comes fast and furious once the girls (at least) enter into the realm of double digits. And with all of that came a realization for me that I wasn’t ready for.

I have to be my daughter’s friend.

This came to me after many situations where my daughter basically was heartbroken by girls she thought were her friends. She wasn’t invited to a birthday party. She wasn’t asked to ride in a certain car after a volleyball game. She wasn’t included in a skit for the end of year show. And every time, I tried to encourage her, pat her on the back, be positive. Then I started getting irritated and rode the line of basically telling her they were all just a bunch of punks anyway that she didn’t need. And finally, I told her the truth – they weren’t her friends and they weren’t good friends.

But they were the only model of ‘friend’ she had. I don’t know what it is about middle school, but there are more mean girls than not – so most girls in some way particularly when it comes to friends and controlling the popularity pyramid are not nice. I could SAY they weren’t good friends all day long, but she had nothing to compare it to.

So I had to be nice to her – like as a friend, not as her mom. I had to show her what people who really love and support you, not just cause you’re family but because you choose to be friends looks like. I had to laugh at her jokes or stories that I really didn’t think were that funny (cause I’m not a middle school girl). I had to watch videos she thought were interesting. I had to listen to her lament over why a boy asked her to change seats with him in class and what it really meant. And even when I wanted to pull my hair out or say WHO CARES!!! I couldn’t. I had to show her that people who choose to love you – listen to you, laugh at the same things you think are funny, and are interested in what happened to you today. She knows as her mom I feel that way, but her mom who was dead set on not being her friend, would have shut down some of that monotony of middle school drama and discussion because it annoyed me, cause I’m an adult. But I now accept that those moments are not about me and I just need to be her friend.

I don’t ever want to go through middle school again. It’s bad enough I have to do it two more times vicariously through my girls. But what I know, that you don’t realize the first time you go through it, is that it’s really a short period of time. A blip on the radar screen of your life. So I suck it up and I laugh at the girls doing that ridiculous dance, or the 500 bottle flip videos. I support her completely when someone upsets her – not making a lesson of every situation (which is REALLY HARD). And I make it clear that I LIKE her.

I told her the other day – I am your best friend, and I meant it.

 

 

Confessions of a Single Mom With Cancer Entry #21

I’m going to get right to this one.

#21. I don’t want your pity.

One thing I noticed during cancer is that people genuinely felt bad for me. This was something really new for me because I had spent my entire life making sure people never felt bad for me. I’ve recently started giving talks about personal branding and one thing I say all the time is that I have been in branding all my life. As one of the only black people in my school and one of very few black families in our neighborhood, I understood the importance of how people perceived me and what they believed about me and how it impacted not only me, but my family and very possibly my entire race. Some may say that’s a lot to carry as a young child, but I never saw it that way. It gave me a mission and a purpose greater than myself. But instead of becoming someone who was apologetic for being different, I became someone who wanted it to be clear- don’t feel bad for me because I’m black or because I’m different. As a matter of fact, don’t ever feel bad for me!

Then cancer came. And I realized, I needed people to stand in the gap for me, to help me. I recognized I needed that. I appreciated the fact that people felt sorry for what me and my girls were going through, and I started questioning my lifetime approach and perspective of NO pity please.

It felt good for people to help. Sometimes I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. I was so grateful.

So, I started reflecting on my life. As a single mom, I wondered if I had allowed people to pity me when I got pregnant with my oldest without being married if I would have been supported differently in the beginning or even through the years. I know I make being a single mom look pretty easy most days. It’s not, but I don’t want people to pity me, so I charge through and we make it work. When I was miserable in my marriage I hid from my friends and family – the same people who helped me off the bathroom floor during chemotherapy or who took my kids to and from school and camp these past 2 years. Should I have let them pity me and carry me through that? Now don’t get me wrong, they were always right there, caring for me as much as I would let them. But I wasn’t as vulnerable as I was through cancer. I wasn’t as open and honest about how much I was hurting because I still wanted to be seen as strong.

Through this experience, I’ve questioned my no pity rule. But on Friday, the question was answered and believe it or not…through another bunny!!

So if you don’t know about the bunnies in my back yard, read this first.

So we started school last week, and right before we’re hustling out the door, I take our crazy maltipoo Sophie Joe outside. She runs under the deck and out flies another bunny! This time it runs to the back door and finds its escape route under the pool gate. If it had just stayed on the side walk, but no, into the pool!

This time, I didn’t panic. It’s the first week of school. My priority is the girls and I said, oh well. Hopefully it will get out. No pole helping, no make shift ramp, no pity….and you know what happened? That bunny found its way into the drain, popped the skimmer basket lid up, jumped out and ran away.

I didn’t pity it. I didn’t help it and it found its own way out of a situation that had taken the life of probably one of his siblings. And that’s what happens. When no one is feeling sorry for you, you make a way, unless you’re someone who wallows in self-pity, which of course I am not. That’s what I’d been doing all these years, using a lack of pity to encourage myself. To push myself and find a way. To jump in and get things done, instead of waiting for someone else to do it for me. And it’s worked out for me.

But what I also realized is that my friends and family didn’t pity me during cancer either. All they did for me, all their prayers and thoughts, cards and words were acts of love – NOT pity. The beauty of this is that I’ve learned how to distinguish between the two. So to everyone who has been by my side through the years, when I was strong and when I wasn’t,  I’m grateful for your love and that you’ve never pitied me!

Now, back to my old ways, cause I’ve got a skimmer basket to pop open and jump out of! Who’s with me?

Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry # 20

I’ve been talking about this confession in some shape or form for a while. My girlfriends (as well as random women standing in line at WalMart) and I talk about it all the time. We’re tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed. But today I realized,

20. I’m actually drowning.

I realized it through an AWFUL situation. Immediately you think something I missed, forgot, failed at but it’s not any of that. I’ll try to keep it brief but give you the whole picture.

So this morning I’m in the backyard with the dog and a baby bunny runs from under the deck. Sophie Joe chases it as usual but instead of darting under the fence and getting away. This bunny jumped in the pool. I totally FREAK out. I have to save the bunny. The bunny is swimming for dear life. I get the dog inside. Call for Sydney to help me and I start trying to rescue the bunny. A wet broom, swimming pool pole and a rigged ramp later, I cannot get the bunny out. It’s getting tired, resting between strokes. I’m begging it to hold on and keep trying. Telling it, ‘you can do it’. It’s struggling now. I swear we’re close to saving it and then it stops moving. It’s DEAD.

I was trying to hold it together, but I started crying. I thought to myself, I’m losing my mind. The girls don’t know WHAT to do. Sydney reassures me bunnies die all the time – we do have an overinflated bunny population running around our house. But I just felt so bad for that bunny.

And then I realized, I AM THE BUNNY.

It’s almost like I’ve woken up in my life and I’m wondering…how did I get here? Surrounded by water. This place where the to do list never ends and the pressure to perform is crushing me. Where in all aspects of my life I feel like I’m treading water or falling behind. And this is not a time where I just need encouragement, a pat on the back or someone telling me you can do it, this is REALITY. I have too much on my plate. I have too much responsibility and too many people or projects depending on me. I have too many jobs to do and roles to play.

I have gotten here and I’m swimming as hard as I can but I know I’m drowning and it’s just a matter of time before I’m dead.

There were times last year I actually thought I was going to die. I still live with the fear that the cancer is just dormant right now but it will come back and kill me. But if it doesn’t, anything could. Now, 5 years from now, 10. It’s going to happen, but I feel like the race against the clock has started. I don’t want to spend these years struggling just to survive.

But what am I doing about it? What CAN I do about it? I see people ditching their McMansions and building tiny houses, leaving their jobs and pursuing their passions. I have thoughts, ideas, dreams but something still holds me back. It could be all that responsibility I have, but my faith in God and myself should reassure me that it will all be taken care of. For some reason I’m still SCARED, and in many ways, I’m sort of comfortable in this crazy place.  The water is warm now that I’ve gotten used to it.

But I’m still drowning and I know it. Drowning is different than being exhausted or overwhelmed cause there are only TWO possible outcomes. You get out of the water or die.

I just need to jump out of the water. One good leap and that bunny would have been out of the water -and alive. I need to JUMP.

I have the tools to get out and to succeed when I’m there. They’ve been developed, improved and sharpened for the last 43 years. Shouldn’t I live the next 43 years on the shore, really living and not just struggling until I die?

I want to know my IKIGAI (eek-y-guy) –  “the reason for which I wake up in the morning.” or,  “sense of purpose”.  This is an important concept in the Okinawa lifestyle and was identified as one of the principles that helps make this region a blue zone. If you haven’t heard of this you have to watch Dan Buettner’s TedTalk on it. But he’s identified 9 factors present in regions where people for generations live longer than anywhere else. Knowing and living your purpose was one of those factors. Not only did they live longer, but they lived more fulfilling and rewarding lives. I know my PURPOSE is not just to tread water until I drown. I know it’s bigger than that.

I don’t want NOT knowing to hold me back anymore. I need to bet on me and my ability to find my purpose and make a way. It’s time to jump. If I don’t do it now, I’m afraid I’ll forget the impact this crazy cancer time has had on me. I’ll get comfortable in my CRAZY again and settle in the struggle. I don’t want to settle.

I’m jumping.

 

Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry # 19

I’ve been thinking a lot about dating lately. I have a strong desire to be in a relationship and truth be told,

19. I want someone to fall madly in love with ME.

I mean the REAL me and all of me.

The me whose garage is totally messy cause sometimes to clean out my messy car, the stuff gets piled on the table in there.

The me who has a semi crazy life cause I have 2 daughters who I love but also drive me crazy and I birthed them so they’ll drive someone  else completely insane some days.

The me that’s bossy cause I’ve always been the boss and in the end I really want what’s best not just what I want and sometimes I can’t see that the two aren’t the same.

The me that has an awesome, big job I love, but secretly wants to be a stay at home mom.

The me that leaves dishes in the sink cause I hate doing the dishes.

The me that hasn’t fully unpacked from the last trip but will before the next.

The me that wants to spend every holiday and vacation with MY family.

The me that wishes I could still eat McDonald’s.

The me that has a dent in her car but doesn’t want to fix it yet cause really…who cares.

The me who has clothes size 4-14 and everything in between.

The me whose kitchen has more than one ‘junk drawer’.

I guess I’ve FINALLY accepted that I’m never going to be perfect. And as much as I knew that, a part of me believed that THAT’S what people fell in love with – people they thought were perfect. And maybe, deep down, I believed it WASN’T happening for me BECAUSE all of these imperfect things and many more.

On top of it all, cancer has created many NEW, physical imperfections. My man made, cancer free boobs will never be perfect. My body will always have surgery scars and port scars and drain scars. Thank God for clothes and the dark 😉

But this isn’t a pity party, like why not me. It’s me finally letting go of the me I imagined was lovable and accepting the me I KNOW is lovable.

It’s me no longer fantasizing about married people and how perfect they seem together.

It’s me focusing more on what I have to offer versus what I’m lacking.

It’s me accepting that two people come together and actually make each other better.

It’s me recognizing that truly being myself is the only way I’ll have a lifetime, loving relationship.

It’s me understanding that the man I fall in love with won’t be perfect either, but hopefully perfect for me.

It’s me taking this new found openness and vulnerability and, although terrified, letting it infiltrate my love life too.

I never realized I was creating this barrier. I believed I thought I was ready and I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t dating. But my expectations, not of the guy, but of myself were not realistic.

And maybe the cancer idea of ‘damaged goods’ actually makes it easier for me to accept ALL of my imperfections. It all adds character, right? It also makes for some really great stories, that make for PERFECT date night conversation 😉

 

Confessions of a Single Mom With Cancer Entry #18

About a week before surgery, a friend of mine said to me, “You haven’t posted anything in a while. I miss your confessions. What’s going on?” So I thought about why I hadn’t written anything in almost a month and I had to confess this to her:

 
#18. I can’t do it all.

 
I know the world would like women to believe that they can. I’ve even tried to convince myself of it for many years. But the truth is, there are times when we really need to focus on something and other things suffer. For me, I’ve been really focused on my health and not just treatments and meds and procedures, but my health – I finally got my act together in regards to healthy eating, working out, reducing stress and while doing it I discovered why so many of us don’t. We don’t have time and if we make time, something else loses. For me, it was my quiet writing time.

 
At the end of the day, after I’ve come home from work, cooked dinner, done homework, spent some time with the girls, cleaned up at least one of the rooms in the house and put them to bed, I pretty much have one hour before I can no longer keep my eyes open. In the past several months that had been my confession time. But as I prepared for my surgery, it became very important for me to get more physically active to improve my recovery. It was necessary for me to lose some of the weight I had gained during treatments but more importantly to get moving again so that my joints weren’t as sore and achy (side effect of the maintenance drugs). So that hour was spent on the treadmill and juicing for the next day.

 
And it was worth it. I had a little guilt at first about not writing, but I started seeing the benefits of my new focus and frankly, just stopped beating myself up. I knew I could pick up and start writing again at anytime, but our health will not always be there. I think about all those times I made excuses to not work out or to eat things I shouldn’t and on top of feeling bad about my choices, the little voice in my head would start in on me, making me feel even worse.

 
But I realize now, something has to suffer. There are only 24 hours in a day and that’s not changing anytime soon. So it goes back to choices. Most women I know who workout to the point of being triathletes don’t work or don’t have kids or aren’t married. There’s only so much one person can do. Before I was willing to admit that, when I was trying to do it all, MORE than one thing was suffering. I was stressed, so I’d yell at the kids more, I’d make unhealthy eating choices, I’d go to work events that weren’t necessary, and I’d feel guilty about all of it.

 
This trying to do it all, ‘my life is so busy’ stuff is for the birds. So many of us wear it like a badge. Busy is not the answer to How are you! Good, happy, tired, excited, sad, anxious, peaceful, even stressed – those are answers to how you are. Busy is a description that people use 1)because they are, 2)because they want to seem important, or 3) because it’s what everyone else is saying. Once being busy becomes how I actually FEEL, I think it’s reaching a tipping point and not in the good, Malcolm Gladwell way!

 
I saw a sign the other day that said, “Do more of what you love.” At first I thought, yes, that would be nice. But then, I thought, wait, what will I NOT do? If I could, not work and do more of what I love or if I could, not work out and do more of what I love, then I’d have to suffer the consequences of not doing those other things.

Then I realized, I came in on the middle of the conversation. Do more of what you love is preceded by doing a lot of other things first, so that I can do more of what I love. I work out and sacrifice other things so that I can BE HERE with my children because I love being with them and want to see them grow up. I work so that we can go on vacations, share experiences, and create memories because I love doing that with them. I do a lot of things so that I can do more of what I love and that’s what I balance. I don’t do it all. I can’t do it all, not all at once. But my life is filled with give and take.

 
I’m working on NOT beating myself up when I make a choice not to do something or let a certain area of my life lapse. I’m trying to make those choices consciously, recognizing and accepting the downstream effects of it. I know this is going to be very difficult for me. Doing it ALL has been a way of life for me for so long, but it wasn’t a good, healthy life, and that’s what I want – MORE than anything.

Confessions of a Single Mom With Cancer Entry #17

 

It’s Valentine’s Day.

The day dreaded by so many single women. I probably used to be one of them. Then I had kids and it became about school parties, red shirts and class Valentine’s. When I think about it now, I think it’s nice to have a day that forces the expression of love because so many people have a hard time doing that every other day. But maybe that’s because a lot more people are like me, even at my age I have to confess:

#17. I didn’t understand love.

The expression of love not love itself I think is what I didn’t understand until now.

I was released from the hospital two days ago after my major reconstructive surgery- a year, a double mastectomy, 4 chemo treatments, 33 radiation sessions and a lot of sleepless nights in the making. They wheeled me into surgery at 7am and I woke up asking the tech when I saw the clock, was it really almost 8pm?? That’s when the blurred memories start. I spent 2 days in ICU in a similar blurred, in and out state. My blood level and oxygen were low. My blood pressure was maintaining at 78/46. The nurses were working on me constantly, different doctors were in and out. They gave me oxygen as they started discussing with my family the potential need to ‘give me a little blood’. I was actually ‘asleep’ during most of this or at least that’s what it felt like. I was so groggy. I just kept making sure my sister was in the room. Because she loves me more than I love me and it’s her expression that told me, I’d never really understood love.

We want people smiling at us, showering us with gifts. Valentine’s loving us. But my sister’s expression was tired, stressed, intense, concerned. Zero smiles. In my flashes in those days when our eyes would meet, that’s what I would see. But what I was really seeing was her expression of love for me. Deep, soul connected, can’t live without her, going to do anything for her love.

I’ve been blessed through crisis to discover true love. Expressed in so many ways big and small. People who truly love you can’t help but express it and not with a box of chocolates but by:

Coming to the hospital at 5am just to see you for 5 minutes before they wheel you back.

Keeping your kids even when one is an impossible tween who loves her mom so much it hurts her and her fear translates into attitude

No less than 100 text messages between your girlfriends. Sending well wishes, begging for updates, lifting you up in prayer.

Your mom leaning over in the middle of the night to touch your hand to make sure it’s still warm.

Your sister never ever acting like doing even one thing is a burden to her. From emptying your blood drains to doing all the grocery shopping to taking forever just to pick the perfect Valentine’s Day cards for you to give your kids.

Pushing the nurse aside who’s asking you questions like do you know where you are, who’s the POTUS to make sure you’re still with it and asking who was your favorite character when you were little who always wore purple – to make sure YOU were still with HER.

That’s the kind of love I wish upon each and everyone of you this Valentine’s Day. It supersedes romantic love. But I pray the one you’re romantic with loves you that way and vice verse.

I’ve always said if I could just find a man who loves me like my sisters and that was before all this, so I know it’s a tall order. But I also know it’s not impossible and after all this, I finally know it’s not only what I desire. It’s what I deserve. That’s love. I get it now.

Confessions of a Single Mom With Cancer Entry #16

I’ve said it before but being diagnosed with cancer makes you very reflective on how you’ve lived and are living your life. When I started looking back, I had to admit:

16. I have some regrets.

It’s hard to say that because it carries such a negative weight with it. But if you’ve lived at all, I’d bet you can say this.

I have some big regrets and some small ones. Some of them are things I wish I would have done, some are things I wish I wouldn’t have done or done differently. All of them come from choices and decisions I made. They are things like:

I wish I hadn’t been so anxious to start working and would have gone to live in California or overseas right after college.

I wish I would have married young and for love.

I wish I would have pursued singing more seriously.

I wish my kids were growing up in a more traditional family structure.

I wish I would have finished my masters.

That’s just a sampling. There are others. But when I start thinking about these things I look back on them and realize the flip side of any of these situations would have had consequences and likely a different set of regrets. I understand that the grass is not greener on the other side. It’s just different. I also know that many of the choices I did make had wonderful results that I may have missed out on if I had done things differently.

Some of my regrets were really just flat out mistakes – bad choices or decisions. But everyone agrees we can learn a lot from our mistakes. As I’ve become more willingly to be vulnerable, I think I’m learning a lot from my regrets too. But if we focus on them too much, they can create sorrow. They can also create envy. This state of reflection has sometimes created more envy in me than I had before cancer. Not wondering why I got cancer instead of someone else, but wanting to have some things in my life that I haven’t yet, before it’s too late. So I have to work on not coveting now, more than before. I have to work on being faithful that those things will come.

I can’t aspire to the idea of living life without regrets. I have them. But, I’ve decided what I can do is try to live going FORWARD not creating new regrets.

This means facing some of my old choices and trying to be sure I don’t repeat them. It means really acknowledging what I want and not accepting anything short of that. It means taking counsel with people I know love me, even when I’m afraid they won’t agree with me. It means taking more risks. It means following through. It means believing in myself and a great plan for my life….without the burden of NEW regrets.

So, yeh, I have some regrets, and I think that’s ok.

Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry # 15

I am a rule follower. I don’t park in no parking zones. I never cut in line. I believe rules are there for a reason. But as I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel of my cancer treatments, I started realizing that I was more than just a rule follower,

15. I was kind of a stick in the mud.

In general, this may not be true. I like to have a good time and my girlfriends probably get to see the wildest side of me. But with my kids I realized I’d been saying no or not doing things, A LOT. I literally had things I wouldn’t do. Like,

1)Chuck E. Cheese was a Grandma or babysitter treat. I literally didn’t go there.

2)I didn’t do rollercoasters. Yes, I’m sort of afraid and I don’t like that feeling in my stomach, but kids should feel it at least once. I knew I didn’t like it because I had tried it before!

3)I didn’t do water slides. Again, I think as I got older, my fear of things increased. But what’s the worst that could happen?

4)I didn’t get in the pool unless I had to, just to make sure my youngest didn’t drown.

These are just a few of the things, I would ‘sit out’ on. I’d find a chair and watch from it. I don’t know when this happened. As a single mom, you typically have to do everything with your kids. But I guess as they’d gotten older and bigger, I’d decided I was tired of always participating.

I feel like with my kids, I had become so one-dimensional. I was the disciplinarian. The rule maker. The enforcer. Like I said, as a single mom, you don’t have much choice. Since they’re kids and they need boundaries and guidance you have to play that role. But somewhere along the way, it had become my only role. I wasn’t any fun with them anymore.

But then, towards the end of radiation, I started doing everything. I went on a water slide with my oldest daughter. I jumped in the wave pool with my youngest and my nieces. I did a line dance with the girls on a cruise ship. And I loved every minute of it. What I loved most about it was seeing how much they enjoyed it. I loved being right there with them when they experienced that feeling in their stomach or the water splashing them in the face.

Yes, there were some things I was just actually afraid of (Cancer taught me it was silly to be afraid of those little things). But there was also this mentality that I DIDN’T HAVE to do those things or I SHOULDN’T HAVE to do those things. There was that feeling of it being a burden to a degree, as hard as that is to admit. The sigh I would let out when my kids wanted me to play with them or ride bikes with them or swim with them. All they wanted to do was have fun with me.

And that’s what I want to do now too. It was a rough year. We all deserve a little more fun. You know what’s even better?  We laugh so much more now – even when we aren’t doing any of those things I used to NOT do. Just in general, cause I guess I’m just more fun now. I might even take them to Six Flags 🙂 …one day!

Snapshot 2 (11-11-2015 10-38 PM)

Check it out! I even did this 2 days after my last radiation treatment!

Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry # 14

I would consider myself a confident person but what I’ve realized now since cancer is:

14. I really wasn’t very nice to myself.

This is very different from taking care of myself and being good to myself. This is actually about the voices in my head. 

One of the best song lyrics ever written is from Pink’s Perfect. It says, “Change the voices in your head. Make them like you instead”. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I remember vividly a time when most mornings I’d get up and get ready and I’d actually send myself out the door after looking in the mirror and saying, “You’ve seen better days.” No joke. And I didn’t think it was cruel, I just thought it was fact. 

The amount of critiquing of my looks, my hair, my weight, my teeth was out of control. And what’s funny is I held myself to a higher standard than anyone else. Not that I expected or considered myself prettier than anyone else but that the minute I saw one of my girlfriends tearing themselves down, I’d immediately jump in to reassure them and lift them up because I knew they were wrong. They were beautiful, inside AND out and I could hear and see what the voices in their heads were doing to them without any doubt. But I couldn’t see it in myself. 

Now don’t get me wrong I had a healthy self confidence. I wasn’t walking around thinking I was unattractive or ugly. But even in that I was much more focused on my faults. 

Right before I was diagnosed with cancer, I got my teeth cleaned and the dentist was telling me that I was an aggressive brusher.  The main concern with this is that your gums start to recede and as you get older, you’ll get that long toothed look. I was terrified. I told my sister cause I was sure she was probably an aggressive brusher too. We had a serious discussion about how to change this habit because God forbid we have long teeth when we’re old. 

And then I get diagnosed with cancer and I realize I’ll just be happy TO BE OLD! I’d be happy to be old – fat, with long teeth, with too many moles, with crazy hair, all of it! 

I guess I was tearing apart the little things because they seemed important and core to who I was before all of this, but I know now that they aren’t. 

40 pounds heavier, bald, no eyebrows- I’m still me and I’m loved by a lot of wonderful people, who would be really mad at anyone who talked to me like I sometimes talked to me in my head.

So I’ve changed the voices in my head. I don’t know they ALWAYS like me but they are much nicer to me these days.