question-mark“Please don’t ask. Please don’t ask. Please don’t ask.” That’s pretty much what goes through my head every time we talk to our youngest about my husband’s cancer. Cancer and the questions it raises is a constant boogie man under the bed of our life. Like the boogie man. Turning on the light helps. With cancer- it’s the light of truth.

We have work hard to give him the information he needs without flooding him information he doesn’t need or that would just make it harder for him. We mostly manage this by letting him guide the discussion- by answering the questions he asks. Kind of like sex education- we tell him the minimum he needs to know and we answer whatever questions he has. (Sex talks are just a little less nerve wracking than cancer talks. (A little.) Somedays I just want to shout- “Let’s just talk about sex, instead, ok?” Justsayin. Both= hard.

Anyway- He mostly asks things like: “Does dad still have cancer?” Our answer: “Yes.” Can cancer kill people?” Our answer: “Yes. But, not always. Dr’s are getting really good at fighting cancer.” The questions are sometimes random concerns- and sometimes they come up due to TV, other kids, etc… Until someone you know has cancer- you just don’t notice how many times it’s mentioned. EVERYWHERE. From the cash register when they ask you to donate to a cancer fund to an advertisement or news story…. cancer is everywhere. Hearing  about it makes kids ask questions. (Well.. it makes us all ask questions… or at least it does me.. but that could just be an effect of ongoing PTCD Post Traumatic Cancer Disorder.) It’s part of the deal.

There are some questions we don’t like to answer. Like: “Could Dad die?” There are some I just don’t want him to ask. Unidentified questions. Questions I try not to allow myself to ask. (Like “what would happen if” Questions.…. FYI? You can pretend you don’t ask those questions… but they’re there. denial or not. They’re there.)

We are committed to telling him (our kids) the truth. To be honest? It would be easier to lie. I’m tempted to tell him: “Dad’s fine. He’ll be fine. There’s no way this could kill him.” SOme part of me thinks that if I lied, I wouldn’t have to deal with his anxiety on top of our own.

Except, kids are not that dumb. What would actually happen if we lied- he’d feel like he can’t talk about what’s happening. He would stop asking questions, because he would’t trust our answers. His anxiety would get worse- not better. We may get a little honeymoon period when we have less anxiety about him because we don’t have to answer the questions…..our relationship would be damaged. Possibly permanently. Let’s face it- Like most parents- I’ve already messed up my kids enough- I don’t need to add this to the list.

If we end up with a worst case scenario…. is THAT the memory or legacy of his relationship that we want him to have? The answer is: No.

The truth is- we just don’t know. So that’s what we tell him. (Well. actually- we do know… .. House M.D. was wrong… everybody doesn’t just lie.. everybody also: dies. So yes. dad will eventually die. We all will. But we don’t know from what, or when.) Since He’s only 11 and hasn’t watched House, he wouldn’t get that. Some of you are too young to get it. Whatever. I’m old. We know this.) But- there’s no point heaping on the poor kid. truth does;t have to be brutalizing. It can be delivered lovingly. (I’ve learned this the hard way… um I tend to bottom line things… which is not always very sensitive…justsayin. Ask my friends. They’ll tell you.)

Here’s what we follow up the hard truth of questions we can’t answer, with:  “We do know that God is in control and loves us. We do know that dad is fighting and we are going to do whatever we can to kill this cancer. We do know dad has great doctors who are doing their best to kill this cancer. We do know that we’re not alone in this fight. We do know we can get through whatever happens- together. ”  The things we DO know and trust. Also: the truth.

I remember the days when  questions were continuous, annoying but, for the most part, easily answered. (Even if they required a trip to the library or a Google search.) I miss not having all the answers.

However- I refuse to walk a life of faith before my kids that is less than honest. I can’t fill in what God doesn’t answer, I can’t pretend to know it all. I can only depend on my relationship with the one who knows all. So that’s what we’re doing.

Even here. In the middle of the unknown. God is present, and active and working…..even when- maybe even especially when, Mom doesn’t have all the answers.

Dear Lord- I miss not having all the answers. But I also know that I can’t lie to my kid. Please give us wisdom. Please give us courage. Please grant mercy and healing on our family. Bring us closer together as we fight this battle- together with you. Let us walk in truth and trust- even here. I love you lord- be the unexplainable peace I wish for my children. Be the one they turn to when I don’t have the answers. Especially when none of us like the answers we do have. I love you lord and again entrust us all and our future into your care.… even here. Amen. 

If you’re a mom who’s struggling about not having all the answers- it’s okay. None of us do. Whether it’s cancer, sickness, world events, tragedy or just plain stuff we don’t know. it’s okay to be honest with our kids. It’s okay to not know. Mom- spelled backwards, forwards, sideways or inside out never ends up God. Just a lil reminder from a mom who’s right there with you. Even here;)



Re-post March ’08

“No.  No games today- you’ve been online WAY too much, we’re having a family day.” As the words came out of my mouth, I knew they were “fighting words.”

No worries-I was ready for a knock down, drag out, go the distance type battle.   In my arsenal I had the classic Mom weapons of:  “Because, I Said So” and “As long as you live under my roof, you’ll do as I say.” And- a Mom’s best weapon-  I was right. Balance had gone out the window with a new online game to conquer. Something had to be done and I was just the mom to do it.

However- my being right was quickly lost in doing wrong. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one prepared for a fight.  The child with whom I had engaged in battle- is most certainly, his mothers son.  We verbally dodged and paried for half an hour.  He gave (loud) reasons why the weekends should be his to do what he wants and I gave (even louder) reasons why he WOULD be doing what I said.

At some point, I forgot what the argument was about.  I didn’t care. It was now about making my kid (now, really a man) do what I said. Because I said so.

At one point, I looked over to find the youngest. He was trying to lip-read the Disney Channel with his fingers in his ears. He looked like a bystander in a spaghetti western gun-fight.  Afraid  a stray  that might hit him.

The yelling finally tapered off. The emotion did not.  The computers stayed off (HA! I won.) and everyone got ready for church.   We were even running EARLY.  (An event, here. This does not happen often.) However, the car ride was eerily quiet.  There were short, stilted tries at conversation.  All of which were answered with one word-non conversational answers.  “Yes. No.” Hurt, frustration and anger  filled the car like smoke.  It choked and strangled the conversation and the relationships.

Winning didn’t feel like I’d hoped it would.

Eventually, we drove in uncomfortable silence.  We walked in to church together but separate. We quietly took our seats. A video played.  It showed a family “connecting” via text, blog and cell, but not with each other.  I squirmed in my seat.

I looked at the notes in our program they were entitled “MySpace, or Ours?” Over the next few minutes- music, video and message communicated the message that had been lost in our verbal battle.   We laughed that unfomfortable:  “who followed us to church with a camera” laugh. My son kept elbowing me though out the service.  “Can you believe THIS is what church is about today??? It’s weird!” He said.

“It’s God.” I replied.  And started to feel the iceberg between us melt with the heat of truth gently shared.

In that short hour or so, both of our attitudes had changed. I watched my Man/Boy respond to God through the ministry of the service.  I watched him squirm, under the gentle conviction of an unbalanced life reflected on, and I squirmed along side of him, under conviction of another sort.

I didn’t think I was wrong.  But- I knew I had DONE wrong… The same message that I had wanted to communicate to Him, was communicated through out the entire service- with humor, with creativity and with respect.  All tools that I both profess and possess, but had thrown out the window as soon as I forgot I was the Mom and started a death match over control.  Ouch. Mommy-fail

We spent the afternoon at the Outdoorama.  (I feared permament blindness from all the camouflage.)  We ate junk food (nothing like a concession stand corn dog. YUM.) and I watched all three kids and their Dad fish in a giant bathtub. (Well, a trout pond, same thing. ) No less than 4 times throughout the day, my oldest said he was glad we had spent it together and that he knew we were right.  (The Dad had wisely stated his opinion without actually getting caught up in our battle… a very wise man.)

Eventually, it hit me.  My son was more mature than I was.  He had admitted he was wrong, he had allowed God to change his attitude.  I however, had not.  I wasn’t wrong in what I said… but I was wrong in how I said it.    I hate that. It totally saps the joy from being right.

The bus will bring him home this afternoon, and I will be here, waiting to apologize…….for forgetting I was the Mom;)

“Dear Lord- … I love you – and ask you to help me to communicate in a way that honors you and the children you’ve entrusted to my temporary care. Help me to DO right as well as BE right! amen.”

“Noooooooooooooo!”  I screamed.  Time slowed down- as I – with Matrix like Mom- moves- spun and dove for the toilet paper. I had to rescue the earth from toilet paper extinction.  The last roll of toilet paper (here, anyways) was being sucked at the speed of light into the evil vacuum cleaner.  (Gotta love a Dyson) The sound of the roll, still attached to the holder, spinning like a gangsta’s wheels, was deafening.   Sheet after sheet was eaten by the Dyson monster, before the carnage even registered in my brain.  I had to act fast.

I just went in there to clean the floor- not save the world’s toilet paper supply.  But- alas- I was called upon to serve- and serve I did.  I have no reason why it didn’t cross my mind to shut off the vacuum… I just remember feeling… so much…  At that moment- I felt betrayed by my long time, trusted friend- I feared that evil entities were dwelling inside…hiding behind the pink and grey plastic.  I knew I had to move fast- to rescue- then later,  I would consider conquering the enemy.  That- or my brain froze like an over heated lap-top and all I could do was grab at the toilet papaer as it flew off the roll.  Either way.  I win the prize for domestic dufus;)

I will not yell at the vacuum. Out loud. Any more. Today, anyways… We will work through the boys and the beagles’  new fear of vacuum cleaners this afternoon… I think the trauma of my tortured screams can be healed, with time and love….

 So- let’s talk about my knitting- now that you’ve been assured of my psychotic break.  Bird in Hand Mittens and Hemlock Rings BlanketApparently I was wrong—Hemlock isn’t just a poison.. and it totally IS contagious!  Fortunately- unlike most virus’ you CAN catch this one repeatedly;) At least when you’re knitting…The Hemlock Ring Blanket, that is;)

This is the third Hemlock Ring Blanket, (pattern recipe found at BrooklynTweed). that I’ve finished…. It’s in Moda Dea Silk n Wool. (Joann’s)  It’s about 65″ across.  A nice lap blanket size.  I knit it for the new living room sofa/loveseat that I don’t own yet…it’s my motivation to save up $ for it;)

Then there have been mittens.  These are called “Bird In Hand” by Kate Gilbert.  Being knit in Berrocco’s Ultra Alpaca in Navy and Natural.  US size 2 DPNs. They are basically turning out HUGE. (I firmly believe they are in cahoots with the vacuum, but I digress) I am going to finish them anyway— because I think they will be adorable- tied together and hung on my front door!

 I have to thank Kasiaiscarly and Kat for nominating me for this:

you make my day award
AWWWWW ;) Thnx ladies….
And now— for just a few of the (Way more than this) people who make my day:
Iris– who inspires everyone who clicks…
Cara – who makes me laugh and who’s header makes me click.. repeatedly
Kaymac- even if she hasn’t posted in forever
and Heather- who’s courage and grace is awe inspiring!
And of course- Kasiaiscarly and Kat as well;) (links above)
The internet- a great place for people to make your day…(even when you lose a battle with toilet paper and a vacuum cleaner) who ‘da thunk it?
PS- going to do laundry- if you don’t hear from me in 48 hours- send in the Marines…..I may be going after missing socks in the dryer….

peeking “Help me Mommmmmy!  I’m twapped!”

I heard the little panicked cry from the living- room.   To be entirely honest- I didn’t exactly run from the bathroom to his rescue.

Like the little boy who cried wolf, we’ve been here before- not all Noah crisis’ are real.  Most are imagined.  (Like standing in the pantry screaming to be rescued when all he has to do is push the door open.)  I learned a long time ago not to freak.

 I finished my lip-liner and gloss before I went on my rescue mission.

 OOPS.  This time it was true.  I found him lying in front of the armoire that holds the TV in the livingroom.  His left arm -up to just above the elbow- was mostly out of view.   It was pinned under the armoire.  

The armoire is a pretty typical 7  feet tall and thousand pounds of oak, particle board and media equipment with flashing clocks.   If you toss in an additional 10 pounds of accumulated dust – (somebody really SHOULD clean that) you’ve got the picture.  

I tried to pull it out. No go.  He screamed. 

I tried the “wiggle method.”  Nada.

I thought about butter- then, thought about the beige carpet.  “Not that desperate, yet.” I thought.

I pulled again- He screamed. Again.  Louder.

“Stop screaming- I can’t think” I yelled. (volume helps? right? ) I was starting to freak- just a little. 

I thought about all those news stories I’ve heard- about parents suddenly being able to lift cars off of their pinned children.  I tried to move the armoire.  Nothing. (it was worth a shot.)   Incredible Hulk Mom- I am not.

The thought of having to call the fire department to free my child from the monster armoire was not appealing.  I looked at my watch- (the flashing clocks are useless) I wondered if I could keep him busy playing one handed gameboy until my teenagers came.  They are pretty strong- I was convinced the three of us could lift it.

 “What were you doing?” I asked him.  More to kill time, than to get an answer.   “I had to get my TOY!”  My mind instantly went to all the stories about monkeys with their hands in coconuts  “Are you still HOLDING it?”  I asked. 

“I have to get it” He said.  Sheesh.  A classic. I live in a monkey house. No doubt about it.

It took some convincing- and the locating of an implement to prove that I would fish the toy out as soon as his ARM and BODY were out of the way.

He finally relaxed his grip- we bent his elbow and he was free.  Just a few red marks  and that faded pretty quick.  No permanent damage or butter messes.  What a relief.

“I love you mommy, thanks for rescuing me” He said. 

I had to laugh.  I didn’t exactly “rescue” him….. he just let go of the toy.  

Funny- I’m pretty sure that from God’s perspective I’ve had my arm stuck for a while- too.  Holding onto something, refusing to let it go and but not able to hold on and make it work.  

 I wonder what would happen if I just let it go?  Would he be able to rescue the thing I love?  Would He fish it out and hand it to me?

 It just might be worth a try.

Matthew 16:24-25
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

“Dear Jesus- help me not be stubborn- trying to rescue myself or hold onto and grab for things on my own that you want to freely give me- I love you Lord- please help me to stop bein a Monkey mom- amen. Oh- and thnx for helping me figure out how to free the boy….the butter would have been a bad idea.”

park mosaic

The sun is shining. There is no rain. There doesn’t seem to be a flood on the horizon and animals are not lining up 2 by 2. (The 2 cats, however, are fighting in the hallway!)

But today- it’s all about me and Noah. My Noah. The most incredible 5 year old, that I know. Friday’s are “our days.” I’ve talked previously about dating my kids. Somehow- our dating tradition has taken an interesting turn with Noah. The emphasis is heavy on tradition.

On Fridays, we go to “Fridays” He seems pretty set on the idea that “Friday’s” is where you MUST go on Friday. A law, rule or at least tradition not to be broken. So, nearly every week, we head out for our lunch date. I ask, each week, “Where should we go?” and he laughs. “Duh, Mom it’s Fwiday! We have to go to Fwidays!” (those “w’s” are not typo’s he’s having a little trouble with “r’s” ;) Some weeks he starts asking “Is it Fwiday yet?” On Monday. (He sounds a lot like the rest of us.)

Noah’s menu never varies. He starts with Fried Mac ‘ Cheese, (something surely thought up by the devil to inflate my thighs, especially when dipped in ranch dressing!) then moves on to pasta with sauce and “parmish” (his very informal and special word for parmesan). Rootbeer from a bottle is his extra special treat.

I have iced tea and whatever menu item my hormones call for at the moment.

After lunch we head to the “bookstore.” We talk about books, read them (and more often than not) buy at least one. After that the schedule varies- we might hit a park, or head home. Usually we end up on the couch with our new books being shared.

Friday is our special day to savor together- once he’s in school (soon- working on that plan) we’ll simply shift our time. Traditions change with my kids needs. But the memories don’t. They are forever.

In the busyness of mothering- I’m learning to pause- and enjoy. How bout you?

Psalm 90:12
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Lord- I pray that you’d help me make time and number my days right… take my schedule Lord- my laundry, my housework, ministry and responsibilities…. show me and help me to take up your priorities- I love you Lord- make every moment count- amen.

Careening around the corner came a grocery cart with a toddler in the seat. Giggles met my ears long before I saw the them. Good thing- too, or I may not have made it out of the way! After jumping to a safe spot, I caught the eye of the “driver”.

He was a handsome, clean cut- looking kid. He was also standing on the back of the cart (where I always forget things- the rack) and using it like a skateboard. Shoving off the ground with one foot and coasting around the corner. A grocery store move, I’m familiar with.

He had that “Big brother making little brother giggle till- he pee’s his pants” kind of look on his face. I smiled a “I’m a mom, I’m not gonna kill you for nearly nailing me with a cart, cause you’re playing with you’re brother” smile. It’s something I’ve seen my kid do a number of times…. (and yelled at him for each time.)

That’s when my eyes also caught sight of what he was wearing. A uniform. Deep green….. army green. This kid-this big brother playing at the grocery store- kid who could be mine, was in the service.

My heart skipped a beat. Reality knocked the wind out of me. That kid could be mine. MY KID could be preparing to go into the service. How would I feel?

Walking a few paces behind- was the mom. Our eyes met. I smiled. A sisters in motherhood smile. That kid is hers. Over the weeks since this happened- I’ve prayed for them both. And for the little guy left behind. Missing his big brother.

Regardless of your political view— I ask you to think about those kids. (Ok- those adults) Those moms, wives and families. The reserves- all of the ones serving our country. Right now.

They could be yours. They could be mine- in a way they are all of ours. Our soldiers.

Let’s pray for them and support them.

Dear Lord- I pray especially for that soldier in the grocery store. That you’d be with him, where ever he is. And for his mom and family… that you’d be a comfort in their struggle. I pray for the war we are in…. God I pray for those who are dying. On both sides. I pray for the Muslim Mom- her whole family in so much danger. I pray for wise leadership- and I pray for an end to the war– I love you Lord- and ask you to be near all those involved- amen.