Today is Mother’s Day. As I reflect on this past year of being a mom, I realize being diagnosed with cancer makes you a different kind of mom. My prognosis was and still is great but hearing you have cancer three weeks post-delivery of your first baby does something to you. It is like a switch turns on and you feel the need to experience and expose your little one to as much as possible all the while absorbing as much as possible – immediately.
Last year on Mother’s Day I didn’t feel so good. I was in my third round of BEP chemotherapy and it was starting to catch up with me. Up until that point I had been feeling pretty good in general. Mother’s Day was so important to me, after all it was my very first Mother’s Day and a lot had happened since having Grace that in some ways it made me feel like I was cheated and in other ways made me feel like super mom. For my first Mother’s Day, we went to brunch, which I was worried about making it through because I was having some pretty bad digestive issues that set in with round 3. I did pretty good. Good enough to make it to a picnic Ryan planned later in the day. In general the day was a success and I made it through.
Here it is Mother’s Day again and I feel like a completely different person. I actually feel better than ever. If you would have asked me last year at this time if I thought I would be saying that now I probably would have responded with a bit of doubt that I would be feeling better than ever. All in all I am very thankful for my cancer and it’s timing, it made me a different kind of mom.
How has cancer made me a different kind of mom than I thought I would be?
- Slowing down- absorbing life: Cancer slowed me down and made me realize that I wasn’t absorbing the great moments in life like I wanted to. I really focus on absorbing every moment with Grace which I am so thankful for. Everyone says “doesn’t it fly by?”. Yeah, your baby growing up does fly by but when you are present, in the moment and absorbing those precious minutes, hours, and days of time, you realize how amazing the process is and it seems to slow things down a bit.
- Remembering special moments- even in a fog: With chemo came a bit of “chemo fog”. It was important to me to remember Gracie’s special moments and all the little things that make me so proud to be her mom every day. So when my memory began to slip I started keeping a daily calendar of little things she did or new milestones. I would read them over and over again at the end of the week and it would make me remember and smile. Even though I am out of my chemo fog this is still something I do every day and probably will continue to do until she is off to college. It is so cool to look back at the day to day.
- The Jolt: Time is precious: Cancer jolted me and made me realize that time is precious. I honestly spent the last year trying to do as much as possible with Grace all while taking a lot of pictures along the way. Creating memories for her through pictures. She is pretty young to remember this time when she is older but if anything ever did happen to me she will have an awesome set of pictures to look back on. Oh how cool and amazing this year has been with her. We have taken many, many trips large and small, more than most kids do before they leave for college. Friends laugh and ask “How do you do that with a baby?” “How do you do that with a baby being sick?”. I just do. I have to.
- A different kind of role model: I believe one of the most important parts of motherhood is leading by example. You have an awesome ability to form and mold a child into anything. You have an attitude, your child will have an attitude. You roll your eyes, your child will roll their eyes. You treat others poorly, so will your child. All simple things, really. I am so focused on leading by example for Grace, I have been since the beginning. What I didn’t know is that I was going to have a less simple example to set. I was going to immediately have to show her strength, grace and joyfulness through cancer. I could have never imagined this would be my first example of being a role model to her.
- Making up for lost time: I didn’t really miss out on much with Grace. It just didn’t start out so easy and at times I long for those precious alone, one-on-one mommy times with her that I didn’t get at the beginning of her life. Trying to make up for this has been a lot of fun. We have gone on a couple trips together across the country just the two of us in the car, bonding and giggling. She is my very fun little travel buddy. Lost time? What lost time?
I love being a mom. It is so much more spectacular than I could have ever imagined. This Mother’s Day, today I am full of energy- like a little kid! I ran a race, my first race since Grace and cancer yesterday and it went really well. Today we are off to brunch again and I am not worrying about keeping my food down. I have a wonderful, happy baby and I feel like an awesome mom. In fact, I feel like super mom to have made it through all of this with a new baby. What a difference a year makes. There is light on the other side of cancer.
Mother’s Day 2013
Mother’s Day 2012