Summer Loving

School’s out for summer! School’s out forever! OK, not forever, but it may feel like it this summer, because it’s my second summer of active treatment. Last summer, you’ll recall, was the end of my first set of chemo, followed by mastectomy recovery. This summer, it’ll be chemo all summer.

I’m noticing that since I started chemo, The Kids have been more clingy. It’s to be expected–they can tell I don’t feel well. I’ve had to have two blood transfusions now because my body’s been gutted out by the chemo. I just have a lot less energy than I did before going back into treatment. It’s impacting my mood a bit too. I’m sad more, which is what always happens to me when I don’t feel awesome. And The Kids sense that, and want to spend more time with me.

Fortunately, we’re finding ways to make that happen even when fatigue keeps me in bed most days. Recently they started coming to our bedroom to cuddle with us in the mornings when they wake up. Which isn’t awesome when they wake up before 6, but most mornings it’s at a reasonable hour. We’re doing a lot of reading with them–I’m reading the Harry Potter series to The Boy, and The Girl really loves a book that my cousin gave her called Rosie Revere the Engineer. (I love it too, definitely one to check out.) We’re also watching movies together more often.

I know it seems lame to spend so much time indoors when the weather is nice, but that’s part of treatment life. I get out and about when I can, but with chemo happening almost every week, there are at least a few days a week when all I do is lie around. But the upside to all this lying around is that I get a lot more cuddle time than I otherwise would, while reading all those books and watching all those movies. It’s actually pretty awesome feeling all that love from The Kids.

I’m hoping as treatment goes on and I start getting into a better routine, I’ll be able to plan some outings for us around my fatigue days. The Boy asked if we could go to Great Wolf Lodge (did you know there’s a bar inside the splash park? OH YEAH!) and I’ve ordered a mastectomy swimsuit.  I’ll probably spend my time just laying near the wave pool, and shouting encouragement to the kids.

This is parenting with continuous illness. It’s not parenting the way other people do it. My kids don’t do organized sports and I don’t spend my weekends at soccer matches or little league games, because I’m too tired, and The Hubs has too much on his hands without adding stuff like that to the mix. We watch a lot of TV and read a lot of books and other people take the kids for play dates. It’s just simpler and slower than most families, and that’s OK.

Now, the interesting part about this is that the latest parenting trend is the 1970’s Summer. Have you read about it? The idea is that when we were little in the 70’s and 80’s, our parents didn’t sign us up for 4,000 activities. They just said “Get a popsicle and go outside to play” while they watched their stories. Well, now all the cool moms are doing 1970’s summers with their kids. Helicopter parenting is soooooo five minutes ago. How convenient for me, who literally can’t helicopter parent even if I wanted to, that the hot new thing in parenting is exactly what cancer is forcing me to do! 

You know, even before cancer, I was the type of parent who sat around with a drink shouting to my kids to go play in the ditch with their friends. So it’s not like this parenting style is actually that huge of a departure from what I would have chosen. But knowing that others actually CAN choose, and I can’t…I don’t know, it’s just rough. It’s getting harder and harder to read parenting blogs for me, honestly, because I see other moms agonizing about and defending their parenting choices, and I literally can’t be bothered to worry about most of that stuff anymore.

I never knew when I started writing this blog about the Cult of Perfect Motherhood that I’d end up with this particular perspective–that I’d see exactly how ridiculous it is to obsess over the things that modern middle class American moms obsess over, because terminal cancer has put it into such stark relief. It’s pretty powerful deprogramming…but I definitely wouldn’t recommend going about it this way.

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