‘Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy.” I hand over my homemade to my mom at the restaurant.
She opens it and sees my self-made coupon for her to cash in when she needs dishes washed. Her eyes scan the card like it was the first card she had ever read. I patiently wait to see if she really likes her card and gift. Our eyes meet over the table and she beams the widest smile.
‘Thank you honey. I love it.” She says.
Just then our desserts arrive in all their sweet glory. We are at her favorite dinner place. It is so grown up here that there are cloth napkins. My sister and I wanted to make this day very special for her. Everyone keeps whispering around her that we need to treat mom very well because she is so sick. I am never allowed to ask her what is making her so sick or urge her to take her medicine so she can get better.
She excuses herself to the bathroom. She gets her cane in place and hobbles to the back of the restaurant. I follow behind her saying I had to go too. As I wash my hands I stare at myself in the mirror. I still can’t help feeling like something is not being said. I love my mom so much. Before I can think anymore, she comes out of the handicap stall.
We walk back to the table as my sister and dad are waiting to go. After we get home and get into our pajamas, I hug my mom tight. When she tucks me into bed our favorite way to say goodnight is telling each other “I love you more than a million oceans.” I smile as I close my eyes and drift off to sleep.
Little did my ten-year-old self know is that was the last Mother’s Day I had with her. She died of breast cancer three months later at the age of 38. As hard as it was to see her in her chemo-ridden self, I hang onto the memory that we honored her on Mother’s Day and every day since. It’s what moms deserve.
My heart has stopped, and then starts again full throttle. The music is filling the room with memories and dreams of the future. The words mix with the music notes from the guitar flooding my eyes with tears. The happy kind.
I am in the middle of my living room that is brimming with family and friends. They just gave me a surprise party. The icing on the cake is the gentleman who is singing the song. Chris and I only just met today, yet I know his stories as he knows mine through Social Media. He and my husband have long since connected the same way.
Only, this song came from the collaboration of the two of them for my surprise birthday party. What really made me weep is that the song is titled A Million Oceans. The very words that my own mother would say, “I love you more than a million oceans. “ My heart and soul is filled with the compassion and kindness that is bursting from my home. I am turning 39, the age my mom did not make it to. My dear husband knew this and made me a surprise like no other. That is not easy since we have been together over 22 years now. Next month we celebrate 20 years of marriage. This is one of the top romantic things he has ever done for me.
I look at the faces of my friends and family who took the time during their Thanksgiving weekend to come here to celebrate – for me. My sweet sister-in-law came from Calgary for this weekend! I am stunned and humbled all at the same time. Just when life stops surprising me, this happens, a million oceans over.
The one thing that struck me in why Chris came out was about paying it forward. It is so true. As parents, we hope that our kids’ future is at least 50% better than the way we had it at their age. I always mourned the fact that I was cheated out of having my mother as I grew up, and that my kids do not have their grandmother. I also dreaded turning 39 because my mom didn’t.
There is one thing I know today, my 39th birthday, is that she did leave a world for me that included kind-hearted people that remind me of her. My birthday wish is that you do pay it forward for someone today, for them, you and our children.
Thank you to all of you for the love and light you have brought back to my heart.
Please feel free to share here how you paid it forward today.
Here is the song:
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to walk in the CIBC Run for a Cure with my whole family and new friends.
If you are new to my blog, feel free to read more about my story. I would like to share some pics from this wonderful morning.
In 1998 I got the call that stopped my world, my young sister has cancer. After all the losses we have had in our family, this one ripped my heart out. Ever since our mom died when we were kids the word CANCER loomed above our shoulders. As the oldest sibling I was convinced it would be me next. Biology had another idea.
After a year of sleepless nights, chemo and many, many appointments she was clear! The relief was impalpable. So in 1999 I became more aware of my own health. I also wanted to find a way to give back to the universe. To have my best girlfriend alive and well filled my days with gratitude.
One day I was in the CIBC bank for work. I spied a brochure for the CIBC Run for The Cure. Immediately I knew what I had to do. I registered and began fundraising. I traveled alone on the sky train full of emotion, when I saw the other women and kids wearing the Run shirt and clearly going to the same stop as I was. When I got to the Start line the tears fell fast. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was not alone. Cancer has affected a lot of people.
I dared myself to do the 5K. It took me a long time between walking and running. I saw the finish line and sprinted to it. As I crossed there were cheers. I thought that was odd. I did not know anyone here. This community of Cancer Warriors is warm and accepting. We are all here for a reason.
Years passed and my husband, sister and her husband joined me. I was honored and proud of the money we raised to help more families like ours. The motivation is that what if the next dollar raised helps to cure the evil disease. The answer is no one knows. We do need to find a cure so families can stop losing loved ones.
When I became a mom the desire for my girls to not have the same fate of losing a mom too soon made me bring them along to the runs. With the stroller we can walk/run, and this year we have joined a team. Please consider giving up one coffee and donate. You never know if the next dollar can save your family.
This year I have the pleasure joining the wonderful Yummy Mummy Club team with my family on September 30th, 2012 . #TeamYMC. Please donate here. Thank you.
I am staring at an angry email in disbelief from someone I thought was a friend. There was a misunderstanding from both parts. This person last replied with such vile and in a bully way, I am stunned. I look at my world today. It is not a secret to me that I have a hard time making friends. A psychologist would have a field day with all that has happened in my life. It is no wonder why I have a handful of people I can trust to have my back as I have theirs.
Up until I was ten-years-old I was very social. I had a lot of friends through school, the neighborhood and skating. Then Mom died. My world stopped. Two weeks later my best-friend shot herself after finding her dad’s gun. She did not leave a note but it was well-known how sad she was. When I returned to school there were whispers as I walked down the hall. No one knew how to ‘treat’ me. Only my best-friend knew, and then she was gone. I felt like a circus freak.
When my dad’s anger over my mother turned to abuse, I withdrew more into myself. I mistakenly put presumptions when a school mate would extend an invitation. I was swimming in the world alone without an anchor or a compass to show me where to go. After being abandoned physically and emotionally to those I loved, I craved acceptance. When I was sixteen, I entered the foster care system. My anchor became my foster mom. She is the reason why I did not turn to drugs or achcohol. I did dabble with people but never dove into to numb my grief. I turned to the stage and food.
As I grew older and becoming a mom, things for me have shifted for the most part. I make sure my girls have every possible tool and love they need. I have more friends I trust. When life has hit me hard in the heart I falter and go back to the old ways of giving others high expectations. It is this lesson that being raw and authentic online and off makes me realize that this person who wrote did not get. Mistakes happen and we move on. And that is what I will do too.
I am so sad, mad and upset at you.
After years of being scared to have kids, in fear of them inheriting genetic baggage, my deepest fear has come true. Since my youngest daughter was born, her delays have been obvious. Then the diagnosis of Autism arrived. All this time I have been riddled with the guilt that I am at fault for her delays and diagnosis. I have second guessed everything that happened from the morning sickness to having to be put out for her birth.
Then earlier this year my sister, your youngest, was found to have a rare chromosome that was linked to her cancers. Because of that, my baby and I have been tested due to that connection. Today I got the call that we tested positive with links to my health problems, and my sweet baby who has autism and a big head. All this time I blamed myself that it was my fault for her social and development delays.
All her and I did was be born. It does not ease my pain that it might not be my fault. She inherited from me, and I from you. We were born. End of story. I know that if you were here today we would find out if you had the same mutation of the gene. Statistically it had to be from you. But who did you get it from? I have a million questions for you. Life has thrown my small family too many curveballs. Why are we the ones with the genetic baggage, and not the rest of the family?
It is so not fair. Cancer is a bitch. I can never imagine life without both my babies. Autism has had its hard days. It has given us moments that remind us with what is really important.
I wish you were here.
When I mention to an acquaintance that my mom died a long time ago, I am met with the pity look. The label gets stamped on my forehead like a marquee. Sometimes the other person asks how I take breaks or go to appointments. I answer, I don’t get breaks and my kids come with me everywhere. It isn’t easy, but it’s our life. I do not have access to free babysitting. As a result, my kids are exposed to a wide variety of life lessons. Parenting motherless leaves open the trials and tribulations of our daily lives.
One thing that I do struggle with, what I think I have to do, is cooking. I never was a great cook before kids and I am even worse now. I am a packaged food mom. I have tried some recipes but have failed. It is just that I would rather be in the playroom and not the kitchen. It is not in me to cook from scratch. I might one day try again to do more cooking. My mom was a crock pot cook before she got sick. We had cookies from a package. We survived.
When it comes to discipline, I know I am lax. I never know when I should ‘parent’ and when I should let something go. Simple parenting lessons that I would ask my mom if she were here. I know I must sweat the small stuff and yet let big stuff slide. My kids must be confused.
When something parenting comes up that I do not have an answer to, I always wonder what would my mom do? I find that to be an enlightening question. Knowing her last few years must have changed a lot on how she parented, I learn to relax and have fun more with my kids. My girls will get into trouble as they grow and test boundaries. Go with the flow, right?
I will continue to make mistakes as we grow together as a family unit. Each kid is different. Yes, it is hard some days when I do not know the right answer. Is there ever a right question?
As posted earlier this year, here is my list of wishes with updates. Surprisingly, some have come close or a reasonable facsimile.
So here it goes:
1.Cure cancer or help someone do it. Enough hurting good people.
My dear sister has had the great news that she is clear once again.
2.Have Bryan Adams follow me on Twitter. If Ellen can get on an Oprah cover, maybe I can realize this dream.
I came close. He tweeted me and a friend. Year is not over .
3.Develop my dream book and get a publisher.
In October I will be having an essay published in a great book about Mothers and Daughters. More news to come soon.
4.Not cry when my oldest marches off to full-day kindergarten in September.
She is nervous. However with many friends in the neighborhood, she is bound to have a friend in class. It is the second week of summer break and she misses her friends.
5.To doubly, not cry when my youngest begins 3 year old pre-school in September.
With all the funding cuts, we are not sure if our youngest can go to preschool. With her social and language delays she would need a worker. As of now, she is not considered a high need. We are hoping for a chance. She loves school settings and would do well.
6.Actually enjoy my 38th birthday instead of wanting to skip the age my mom died.
More to come in October when my birthday arrives.
7.Make a Me time a priority every day even if it’s going to the bathroom alone.
Occasionally I have met that goal. Usually when I least expect it.
How are you on your wishes for this year? Any surprises?
The time on my computer says 7:10am. I click off my computer with a heavy heart. My cheeks are burning with shame and part exhaustion. I just read an email from a client about all the mistakes I made on the last batch of work. I crumble with the humiliation of my unprofessionalism for mistakes I should have known better. My weariness weighs heavy on my shoulders. I deprecate myself as to why I said I could have done the job when I should have said no.
My plate is full with taking care of my kids, along with my sister who is healing from two surgeries, is more than enough for two people. I look around the kitchen from my seat at the table. My computer is closed in front of me. The dishes from last night’s snack still visible in the sink. The glass in the kitchen window betrays its neglect. I spy my preschooler’s snack bag on the counter and jump realizing I had forgotten to fill it. My kids will be up soon. I pass by the calendar and see that once again the day is full for us.
After the school scramble is complete and I have my youngest nestled in her car seat, we are on our way to pick up a few groceries to take over to my sister’s. At a stoplight, my mind’s eye reminds myself of my poor work. The tears try to break through the fake front I show the world. It was not worth it saying yes. I was kidding myself to think that I could do it all. In the process, I have no time for me. I am not a happy mama, or wife, or sister.
I pass through the day like a zombie. I shake my head to myself thinking of the irony if my child tried to do it all, I would tell her to say no. It is so hard to say no. It cost me my over-spent energy to be wasted when I could be freer to live lighter. In retrospect, I would have said no. It cost me a scar on my reputation and being grumpy for my time with my youngest.
After delivering the treats to my sister, we are once again on our way to pick up my preschooler. I feel a bit lighter already. I make amends to my client via email with honesty on what went wrong. I get a kind email back. While I may not get more work from there, I feel better that I at least connected again since my failure. Lessoned learned, I tell myself. Saying no can be the smartest thing I can ever do for my sanity and family.