Friday, March 28, 2008

Like Mother, Like Daughter

When my mom got her cancer diagnosis nearly 3 years ago (wow, how has it possibly been that long?), my first reaction was to hold her hand and tell her we’d all be ok and that we’d take it one step at a time. Then I offered to get her a drink because her mouth was dry. That’s all she was really saying. She had no real outward reaction to the announcement that she had cancer…even though her doctor’s exact words were, “It’s cancer, and it’s really bad.” I followed the doctor out of the room on my mission to find a ginger ale. Then came my real reaction…I totally collapsed in the ER hall. My mom’s doctor (who I had come to know quite well over the years that several family members had been seeing him) caught me mid-fall and held me up. All he could say was, “I know. I know.” I remember it all so vividly. Mostly I remember the feeling I had. Pure terror.

Fast forward to today, I’m sitting on the table in my new gynecologist’s office wearing nothing but a hospital gown. My mind is racing. How am I going to describe this indescribable pain I’ve been having? Will she take me seriously or will she just brush off my concerns like my last doctor had done? And then there’s the family history…any family members I have reading this right now, you know what I mean; it’s quite extensive and almost unbelievable…how would I even begin? I have to tell her about my mother. I’m not used to that anymore. Everyone knows about my mother. I never have to go back to the beginning. The beginning is the hard part. The rest is easy. Maybe I could write it all down and just hand it to her and spare myself the possibility of completely losing control of my emotions while sitting here totally vulnerable and exposed. I don’t want to cry and get all emotional. That makes me seem irrational. Writing it down is perfect! Paper…I think I have some paper and a pen in my purse…damn! Too late…she’s knocking on the door. Why didn’t I think of this at home? In the waiting room? Now I have no choice. Just hold it together. You can do it.

We make our introductions. She seems nice. She’s fairly young and seems kind and gentle. That’s quite a switch from the brash and overbearing man I used to call my doctor. Suddenly I feel at ease. Then she asks what my concerns are that have brought me in today. I haven’t even opened my mouth yet and she’s handing me a tissue. Why is she handing me a tissue? Can she tell I’m about to….oh my god…I’m already crying! How did this happen? I suddenly realize I’ve been transported back to that moment. Pure terror. I had no idea I was so scared by the symptoms I’ve been having. Denial is apparently a specialty of mine though. So here I am, sobbing on the table, trying desperately to explain myself. Finally I manage to finish describing my symptoms, my fears, my mother, the rest of the family history…all the cancer, the gynecological problems, everything. And this wonderful woman reaches out and touches my hand very softly and says, “We are going to figure this out.”

Why this comes as such a relief to me I do not know. Well, it could be because my last experience with a gynecologist had not gone quite like this. Still, I don’t know why I feel so relieved by such a simple validation. And suddenly I feel horrible.

When my mother died I was so angry with her. I still am sometimes, if I’m completely honest with myself. I was angry because she had so many symptoms for so many years and she kept them all to herself. If she had been honest with herself and had those problems checked out, she might be here right now, watching my babies grow up. Instead my son doesn’t remember her and random memories of baking cookies and shopping for pretty dresses are all my daughter has left of this woman who was her favorite person in the world. I don’t have my mother here to be my best friend and confidant. Our family is forever changed. It didn’t have to be this way.

And now I’m sitting on this table, making a plan to find out what’s causing me so much pain. How can I not be just as angry with myself? I’ve been dealing with this pain for more than two years now. Why did I wait? What will I tell myself, my family, my friends, my beautiful babies, if my answer comes in the same way as my mother’s? I’ll be left with that same pure terror…and only myself to blame.

In the long run, I made the right choice. I am being proactive now. I should have done it sooner and I didn’t. But there’s no way to change that now. It is what it is. We’re dealing with it head on. We will be aggressive and thorough. My doctor made me that promise. “We are going to figure this out.” And I believe her. Whatever the answer is, I am thankful for this experience. It has taught me a lot about myself. It’s taught me a lot about my mother.

There’s no more anger. There’s only love and understanding. Sometimes the not knowing is easier than confronting the pure terror. That’s who my mother was. It’s not who I am. Not anymore.

~Mom on the Edge

p.s. I love you, JoJo…and I miss you.

Spring Break

Dear Spring Break:

Thanks for almost being over! While I've enjoyed not getting up at 6:30 every day, I have lost all of my energy and most of my mind chasing after my kids for the past week. We had some fun, but I am so glad it's almost time for school to start again. Thanks for knowing right when I've had all I can take.

~Mom on the Edge

p.s. Tell your friend Summer Break to take his time getting here. He could really take a little lesson from you on knowing when you've worn out your welcome. He always just lingers long after I'm over him.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Grand Debut of Alex and Tori

Dear talent agents:

They are as yet unsigned...


Please excuse the shaky filming...Pearson is not a professional.

~Mom on the Edge

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

I Am, I Am Superman!

Dear People of the Internet:

Ever had one of those days where your schedule is so jam-packed that you're not sure how you'll be able to actually accomplish any of what you set out to do? I had that day yesterday. It was a massive undertaking and a horrible convergence of must-do mommy things. I had to get Alex to school by 8am, Sam to school by 9am (this is the easy part, folks). I had to then shop for food, goody bags, a craft and a book for Sam's class Easter party at the preschool. I had to do all of this (including actually making the food and putting together the goody bags) and be back at the preschool by 11am. I then had to amuse 10 preschoolers for an hour and rush out at noon to get back to Alex's school to get her and her cousin ready for their afternoon performance in the Talent Show. The kids were being called down at 12:15 and the show was starting at 12:30. Were they kidding with that timing??? There were no less than a dozen little girls and their moms crammed into a one stall bathroom trying to get dressed. Fun!

At that point was my break in the day. I would have from after the show (around 2pm) until Alex had to be back at the school at 6:45 to get ready for the 7:00 performance. The break never came.

I had just gotten Alex off to school and was getting Sam dressed. We were going to have Burger King for breakfast on the way. Then the phone rang. It was my friend. My 35 week, 4 days pregnant friend. My friend whose birth I was supposed to attend. Guess what? Her water broke! My mind immediately started racing, trying to figure out how to fit childbirth into my day. I told my friend I would do everything in my power to be there for her. Of course, there was no part of my day that I could hand off to someone else. When I hung up the phone I thought to myself, "well, I'll go up there after the afternoon performance and I can stay for a few hours. Hopefully it will work out. And if not, I'll go back after the evening show and maybe it will be time then...without having missed the birth somewhere in that middle time."

I went on about my day, occasionally checking on my friend at the hospital (Yay for cell phones!). All I could think about all day was getting there for the birth. Sam's party went great. Alex's afternoon performance was fantastic! And I was finally off!

I arrived at the hospital at about 2:45. I told my friend that I could only stay until about 5:15 because I had to get Alex ready. She was very understanding. We hung out and talked, watched her contractions on the monitor, laughed...and speculated that it probably wouldn't be time for quite a while and I could probably make it back in time after the 7pm show (around 9). Afterall she was only at 3cm when I arrived, after laboring all morning (already having been at 2.5 when she arrived). As my time grew shorter, I was really sad to have to leave and potentially miss the birth. But the baby must have sensed my concern...he arrived just before 5pm.

It was so amazing. I was so honored to be a part of this huge life have taken the very first photos of this precious little have seen his sweet little face the moment he arrived in this world. Magical.

So, I may have flown around like Superman yesterday. But if I am friend is Wonder Woman. She was amazing and fantastic. Way to go, Jen. Congratulations....and thank you.

~Mom on the Edge

p.s. Video of Alex's Talent Show performance will be coming soon...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Greatest Superfreakiest Show on Earth

Dear Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey:

I just had to ask...which of you was the superfreak? Or are you all rolling over in your graves at the thought of how far your circus has fallen?

I took my kids, ages 6 and 3, to see the circus a few weeks ago. I have to say parts of it were more like a burlesque show or something you would only get to see after inserting your fare into the slot and peeping through the little hole in the wall. Now, I'm not a prude by any means, even when it comes to my kids. But I have to say that the chicks with the short skirts, patent leather hooker boots and motorcycle handlebars around their waists were a bit much. Did you really have to go so far as to have the band play an orchestral version of Smack My Bitch Up? I thought this was a family show!

I hope that next year we get the Bellobration tour instead of the Bunny Ranch version!

This all followed the amazing motorcycle act. This act was toned down on the night we attended since the day before one of the motorcycle acts ended with several circus patrons being sprayed with gasoline. Lovely! At least they got a complimetary trip backstage to be hosed off and have a nice eye rinse.

Perhaps you should stick to lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Today's circus has surprisingly few cool animal acts though. There are elephants, who mostly just walk around the arena, lie down, stand again and walk some more. The most entertaining part of the elephant show was when the largest elephant of all decided center stage was the perfect place to take a ginormous dump. All the children were quite amused. They seemed in awe of the clean up crew's efficiency at quickly removing the offending poo. Other than that, there were a few horses. And there were dogs....yes, dogs. Not very exciting, but better than the tour with the house cats. What happened to the lions? Where are the zebras? I want to see some dancing bears!

At least this year we made sure to have a large meal before arriving, since the prices are insane at the circus. We did get 2 boxes of popcorn (at $8 each!). They were charging insane prices for everything, of course. $3 for a bottle of water. $12 for cotton candy. Unbelievable. They wanted $10 for a sno cone. Sure, it came in an animal head cup, but's just a cup of colorful ice! The children got one toy each...Alex got a light-up-spinning-obnoxious-siezure-causing item for $20 and Sam chose a shiny red motorcycle for $14. We've had worse years.

Did I mention just how much I hate the circus?

~Mom on the Edge