Parenting under the cancer cloud

Tim has told me, several times, that the hardest thing for him about having MM is having our daughter mixed up in this. He worries, as do I, about what effect it has on her, and what would happen to her life if MM takes him from us. Liv is a stoic type, just like Tim. She does not wear her emotions on her sleeve. She does not like to admit it if she’s scared or nervous. She doesn’t even like to admit she has a shy side. I wonder, sometimes, if she really is handling it as well as she seems to be or if she’s just hiding her emotions very well. I spoke to a friend of mine about this recently. She has had MM for 12 years and I spent 5 days with her in a hotel, caring for her while she does a clinical trial that she had to stay close to the hospital for. I suppose no parent gets through this parenting deal without guilt. Add cancer to that mix and it’s certainly worse and more complicated. You do your kid no favors if you don’t discipline them and make your expectations clear. The world is NOT gonna give them a break because their parent has cancer or passed away. And you also don’t want to raise them to be a victim or to use their bad fortune as a crutch or excuse the rest of their lives. But, there’s also the part where we want to make their lives as good and normal and happy as possible, because, after all, they were dealt such a bad hand, and they were robbed of a normal childhood. And none of us wants to pass away and be remembered by our kids as a meanie. My friend is just wrapping up a month away from her son, where she missed his first day of high school and has had to try to handle things that came up via cell phone. She feels guilt over the days she’s lost with him over the years, and the Dex issues that affected her moods when she was with him. But, she was and is fighting for her life. That’s the hardest thing to do and trying to parent in between, well, there’s no way that’s not gonna be complicated and super hard.

 I look back on my parenting and there were times I was so impatient. Sadly, sometimes the only way to learn to do something right is by doing it wrong the first time. With parenting, it’s YOUR KID that pays the price for your learning curve. I had to raise my child while dealing with my own life-altering health problems, my husband’s cancer diagnosis and all that has caused in the last 11 1/2 years, while going through menopause, while dealing with the pressures of owning a business and a rental home where tenants can be a royal pain in the ass. Then, of course, we had to deal with the huge disappointment of how Tim’s family, and a few others, treated us and our estrangement from them because of that. It’s not easy raising a kid in this day and age in the best of circumstances. We were handed a lot of bad circumstances. All I can say is that our daughter was and is loved, ferociously, by both of us and she knows it. She has had our time and attention since the day she was born. We did not have her to be an accessory to our wardrobe. We had her to be a part of our lives and so we could be a part of hers. We may not have gotten everything right in this parenting business, but we did do a lot of things really well. She was raised VERY differently than both Tim and I were. And many of those differences were for the better. We’ve also learned a whole lot in the last 20+ years, and when you know better, you do better. I think we’re doing OK, under the circumstances. I try not to let the guilt of not being perfect at it eat me up. Life isn’t perfect. It is, in fact, FAR from it.

I recently started seeing a therapist to try to deal with my worry habit. Due to all the bad luck in my life, I live with this feeling of dread that the next tragedy is just around the corner. My dad’s stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis certainly was one of them. We just passed a year since we found out. He has a brain scan tomorrow and will get the results immediately afterward. I dread these appointments with him the most. It’s just brutal. But, it’s the constant worry about my kid that is really driving me crazy. She is naïve and does not think things through. It scares the hell out of me. I’m ruining my life with this worrying. I really am. Turns out, my new therapist is exactly like me and shakes her head sometimes when I talk because her daughter is also very similar to Liv, if not even worse. Her daughter is a daredevil and wants to swim with sharks. I don’t think that’s something I will have to worry about. Oh, I know all those cliché sayings they have about worrying. Of course, they all make perfect sense and they are 100% true. BUT, how does one stop?

Paula Dean used to be agoraphobic, something I know a lot about. She lost both her parents young and was in a bad marriage. When she started her business, she used to send her sons out to deliver the bagged lunches she made at home to pay the bills. She said that in order to get over that crippling agoraphobia, she had to accept her death, and even that of her sons. She had to let go of her fear of death completely and I guess she felt there was nothing worse that could happen than that so she stopped getting so uptight about everything else. I dunno. It worked for her, but, just as there are so many ways people react to stress and fear, I’m sure there are just as many ways to try to get over it. I saw this quote that said, “you can spend every day of the rest of your life worrying, and it’s not gonna change a thing.” I’m sure that’s true. I am beginning to think that constant worry is almost like an OCD type problem. In some way, I think you feel that if you worry about it, maybe it won’t happen or you can be prepared if it does. I think, somewhere in your mind, you think that if you DON’T worry about something, it’s going to happen. None of this is true. I’ve even begun to realize that my family is so used to me doing all the worrying, that they don’t think they have to do any. They are almost passing their worries off to me, like, “she’ll handle it, she always does, so I won’t worry about that.” Great. I’ve become the chief executive officer of worry in my house with no one to delegate to and I’m sure I am largely to blame, because I don’t want them to worry either. Worry is ruining my quality of life. It is robbing me of whatever joy is left in my life. So, I will continue to see my therapist and try to rein it in somehow. Worry should be a 4 letter word. It is truly toxic. It has made an enormous impact on my life. Time to figure out how to shut it down, at least enough to let some joy seep in.

Life is such a crap shoot. Random things happen every second. I don’t consider myself an overly controlling person, but, it sure sucks to feel like you have no control at all. That’s a hard place to get comfortable in.