Sunday, March 2, 2008

Lesson in Parenting

Yesterday, Toby threw a glass bowl onto the floor and smashed it. I told him to go stand in the corner and think about what he'd done, but he refused. I didn't have the energy or strength to follow through. I felt weak -- physically, because I couldn't just pick him up and force him to stand in the corner as I usually do, but also because I couldn't even think clearly about how I should handle the situation.

These are the times when cancer really gets to me -- when it makes my head and body so weak that I can't be the parent I want to be. There have been times when I could almost feel my mental power fading out -- when I couldn't understand what people were saying to me or couldn't remember whether or not I'd taken my medication. I used to be able to do five things at once, and now I can barely walk and talk on the phone at the same time. I've gotten used to the idea that my brain power and physical strength aren't what they used to be. I've had to let that go.

But when I have to give up on being a mother because I physically can't get the words out to talk to the kids, that's when it really gets me.

So I came clean and told Toby, "I don't have the energy to talk through this with you right now, so when Daddy gets home from work, he'll talk to you about it." (This said while coughing and panting, struggling to get the words out.)

He's only two-and-a-half years old, but he seemed to understand. He sat on the couch in the playroom and looked defiant but sad. He nodded, kept quiet and waited there for Tony to come home.

So there I was, feeling like an impotent parent. But Josie had heard this entire exchange between me and Toby and knew I was feeling defeated and sad. When I returned to the kitchen, she tried to console me by saying, "That's okay Mommy. Daddy's better at that than you are anyway."

"Do you think so? Why is that?"

"Because the other night, Daddy talked to me and Toby for so long, we both fell asleep!"

And I ended up laughing until I couldn't catch my breath. But that was okay.

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