Friday, May 24, 2013

Mama, I'm Going To Listen To You...

...because you have cancer.

Oh. Mah. Gah.

Give me a bone marrow biopsy now.

It would be a less violent stabbing than hearing your 5 year old utter those words.  Although, it wouldn't be the end of the world if she was capable of following through.  Anna doesn't really understand what cancer means.  She is using the vocabulary we used when explaining what was happening to me.  Right now, it is utterly meaningless to her.  Actually, right now, it means to her that there are more babysitters and Mommy leaves the house without them more than ever before.  It also means Mommy lays down a lot, but in her world, Mommy's that are having babies lay down.  So basically, right now, cancer to her is no big whoop.

In the next few weeks, when my hair comes out, I imagine that will start to make an impact.  I will look sick.  Right now I just look pregnant.  Regardless of whether or not she is able to follow through on her promise of listening, I vacillate between sadness that my daughter has to think about modifying her behavior because she is aware that Mommy is having a hard time, and pride that she is capable of even wanting to modify her behavior because Mommy is having a hard time.  In the end, I know it is positive that she trying in her 5 year old way to respond to someones needs.  I just wish they weren't her Mother's needs.  At 5, she should just be needing me.

Julia and Adam are basically clueless of course.  Adam is suspicious when people come in the house because that's a sign that Mommy is leaving.  Julia asks sometimes to see my arm because she knows that's where the medicine goes in.  She actually thinks the medicine is in there somewhere she can see.  That's hard to explain because she's at that concrete stage and takes everything super literally, but it's way easier than answering a question like "Why is this an apple?", so I'll take it.

Madeleine has asked repeatedly about my hair.  It is heavy on her mind.  I've received strict instructions from her that my wig selections must be my natural hair color.  It's weird because on the one hand, it really is just about the hair right now.  On the other hand, it is evidence that this is impacting her, that she is thinking about it, and that she has concerns.

Owen asks questions that primarily focus on the science of the disease and my treatment.  He is his Dad's boy.  He want's to know why it makes me tired.  He wants to know why we have to be careful about germs.  He wants to know why my hair will fall out.  It would almost seem completely clinical and scientific if I didn't see the tense look on his face that he thinks he is hiding.  Owen is not a big talker.  I want to know what he's feeling but he will not, and quite likely cannot, tell me.  Blessedly, he will at times talk to his Dad.  Thank you God for Michael who understands Owen and his strong silence (and thank you God for the teeny bit of empathy Michael gets for me when he gets frustrated by Owen not sharing his feelings, hehe.).

Luckily, before we began talking to the kids about my cancer, I read a great book.  I read eleventy billion books!  Who am I kidding?  But the best one was When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring For Your Children, by Wendy S Harpham.  It really prepared us well for how to answer questions and the best way to phrase your answers in a way to be simultaneously truthful but not terrifying.

But still, I don't want to hear any of my kids say "You have cancer.", because it means they are going through something challenging.  No matter how much I know overcoming challenges is actually good for them, it hurts.  I'd rather them overcome their own challenges instead of being dragged through mine.

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