Friday, June 19, 2015

Kids, Summer, and Cancer

Lately, every once in a very blue moon, I feel great -- happy, energetic, and productive. In these moments, I feel like pre-cancer me. (I loved that girl.) I remember how I would whiz through a day of projects with a big smile on my face. Today was one of those days. 

You probably have days like that, too. You wake up, look in the mirror, and say, "Hey, you beautiful, brilliant marvel of a woman. You're gonna kill it today!" Well, maybe that's just me... and Jessica... watch this... 

But most days, since I was diagnosed with cancer, it's more like: "Oh, it's... you. I forgot how crappy you're starting to look. Do your best just to make it through the day, sweetie." Multiply that sentiment times 10,000 when your kids are on summer break.

I have awesome kids -- okay sometimes they're pretty high-maintenance -- but my kids are my heart. I love them -- every bit of them. I devoted the first nine years of their lives solely to their care. I read them books, did crafts with glue and glitter (think MESS!), served on the board of MOMS Club, served as a discussion leader for MOPS, co-slept, did my share of duty (or doody) with diapers, sickness, and tantrums. Don't forget to add the extra of special needs. Yes, I was all in, all the time. So let's just say my kids are maybe a little spoiled. 

Enter cancer and its draggy fatigue, broody range of emotions, and constant preoccupation. Their smiling faces greet me every morning and sometimes I just can't smile back (until I've given myself a pep talk in the bathroom like Jessica and had my coffee. Not in the bathroom, mind you. I don't drink my coffee in the bathroom.) The kids know how sick I am, and their lives have been turned upside down, too.

But summer is hard for a lot of moms -- not just me -- and that doesn't mean we don't love our kids or cherish our time with them. It's just HARD. Our kids have been conditioned (by us, who else?) to expect constant attention and entertainment. I'm not the only one with kids whining, "What are we doing t-o-d-a-y, M-o-m?" All of my suggestions are apparently B-O-R-I-N-G. (And, did I mention I also work from home?) Sweet Jesus, my glorious, blessed life.

So here is what I've done in summers past (and am attempting to do now):
  • I make a calendar on poster board to show the kids exactly which days they can expect something fun. 'Cause they're not getting that every day. Even if the visit to a friend's pool is a week away, they can see it coming up.
  • I push things like --- oh my gosh --- playing with TOYS. Remember those? They're not electronic and no WIFI is required.
  • I buy them any book that interests them. They pick it. I buy it. Anything to keep them reading over the summer. And, we wear out the library. WEAR IT OUT, YA'LL.
  • We have a weekly family game night in which we each get a turn picking the game and the meal. If it's your night and you picked the meal, you help me cook (just us). We drink lemonade in goblets and crank up the music!
  • We turn off the TV and play with the dogs. This is a favorite for the kids... and the dogs.
  • We take naps. And ditch our bedtimes. All of us. Hello, sleeping-in... Bliss.
  • And then most of the time, the kids are on their own. FREE TIME! GET TO IT! (They really do need to learn to manage themselves.)
Thankfully, I have a great husband who will take the kids fishing, shoot hoops in the driveway, have a pillow fight (until someone starts crying), or involve them in an outdoor project. Parenting is a team sport, man, especially during the summer and especially when you have cancer. My man is boomtastic. And my kids have AMAZING grandparents who go above and beyond every single week.

How do you keep your kids busy during the summer? What can I add to my list? Chemo is on the horizon and I need your help.


"Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece." - Proverbs 16:27

P.S. We've received many offers for help this week. Right now, we're Jim-Dandy. We will definitely need more help after July 9 when chemo starts. My friends will be starting another meal train and of course we're always thankful for any little donation:  Also, paper plates and cups make my life complete so we treasure those when you bring them. No dirty dishes... We love you! Thanks for loving us so well.

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