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 #11

Cancer is WAY too popular. Everywhere I turn it’s like there’s another story about cancer. Treating it, trials for it, testimonies about it and of course loss from it. I  probably never really noticed it before, but I dare you to pick up any paper today and not find a story about cancer. I guess it bugs me so much because if I’m really honest about how I feel, deep down inside, I have to admit:

11. I’m scared of cancer.

I don’t want to be. I love and trust God, but I’m human and he knows that. I feel great, but then I read a news article about a 44 year old mother of 3 losing her battle with breast cancer. Then I go to her inspirational blog and I read about how she felt when her close cancer friend died 15 months before and she writes about being so afraid that would be her and I now know, it IS her and I can’t help but think – will it be me? I’m scared.

I’m scared because I know the world doesn’t make sense. I know we lose loved ones we wish we had more time with, things happen that seem unthinkable, people experience things they never dreamed of. I know life is unexpected. So, it could be me. I have no more right to live than Jennifer Rae Beck did at 44 or her friend Ruthie, or countless others. I don’t deserve it more. I’m not smarter, prettier, funnier, kinder. I can’t win it by works. Ruthie had a wonderful ministry and even had a license plate frame that said “Can’t Do Cancer Without God”, and I agree, you can’t. But that doesn’t mean that when you do it with him you’re going to live.

So what do you do?

People love to say ‘Live like you’re dying’. That’s stupid. If I lived like I was dying, I’d end up in jail. There are things I would want to do that I shouldn’t unless I was dying, but God willing, that’s going to be a long time from now. So I can’t do that. I still have to plan, think, prepare, teach my children right from wrong, work hard, be responsible. I still have to live like I’m going to be here tomorrow and many more tomorrows after that, so that doesn’t work, no matter how many songs are written about it.

I can’t let it paralyze me. I’m raising 2 girls and God willing they are going to grow up to be women, moms who too will impact other lives – namely their children. Especially as a single mom, I don’t have the luxury of curling up in a ball, thinking the world is coming to an end and that someone else will pick up the pieces around me. I have to continue to engage this thing we call life and I believe that knowing my girls need me, now and in the future, has been my greatest motivation.

So that leaves me with one option – just do it.  Not in the Nike way, but have you seen the Shia LaBeouf inspirational video? It’s totally crazy. But today, it hit me. It’s not about just living. It’s not about just continuing to get the opportunity to live. It’s the opportunity to DO it. To do more. To be more. To challenge myself more. To give more. To love more. To pray more. To serve more. To laugh more. To grow more. It’s the opportunity to live past the dream of being alive. Because if it’s one more day, one more year, ten more years, thirty more years, it’s MORE. And what more can I really ask for than just that?

Each day matters more to me now than it did 8 months ago. Each day since December 3, 2014 is worth more than it was before diagnosis day. Each moment is more special. Each relationship more rewarding. Each lesson more powerful.

Being afraid of cancer doesn’t make me more anything, it makes me less likely to be more of everything I want to be and do. So I’m done with that. No more.