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I've Got a New Inspirational Saying

Like so many others on Facebook, I often find myself clicking on link bait or silently admiring (read: not clicking “like” even if I do, indeed, like it) witty memes, articles or videos that seem to perfectly sum up precisely that which I didn’t know I was in dire need of articulating in my life.

Three memes in particular keep showing up in my news feed lately that make me sit up each time and declare, “Oh my God, yes!”:

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1. The Days Are Long, but the Years Are Short

I can’t think of a better way to express the early years of parenting than this. Not a single one. Except. For me—right now—the days are long and this year is even longer. Particularly as it applies to my kids, recovery from a recent bilateral mastectomy and me. I feel like my life up until this point, even before becoming a mom, was all about my kids. It’s why I got a mammogram, and why I’ve always gone to see all doctors forever, exercise and (try to) eat well—so I can be around for as long as possible for my kids. And, yet, these days, my kids are absolutely and positively the last people I want to be around.

That sounds so mean, so unfair. There are those suffering from cancer, clinging to life, just begging for more days, hours, minutes with their kids. And here I am—a lucky effing duck who had her cancer caught early—literally nipped it in the bud (perhaps the first time “literally” and “nipped in the bud”—were used together in the absolute correct context) and my kids are getting nothing but icy stares from me when they climb into my bed with a book in hand and beg me to read to them. I just want to be alone. I just want a nap.

But it’s just so true. My kids are driving me crazy. I thought my 5-year-old would be more affected by my surgery. However, she mostly glances at my breasts these days and asks why they look so “weird.” My 2-year-old, on the other hand, has totally been changed by the experience. Up until my January 6 diagnosis, I was like her mirror image—we were all the other had, all day, every day. And then I started taking weekly round-trips to doctors 200 miles away, and she was passed between various babysitters, friends and family members. To be sure, they all love and adore her.

To her though, simply put: None of them are me. I’d be flattered, knowing that anyone puts me on such a pedestal. Except now she sees the pedestal as a huge ladder separating us, and I just won’t climb down from it because that would mean having to wake up from my nap. And if I have to wake up, that just means even more hours tacked onto this never-ending year that I have to be alert to care for someone other than myself.

Be kind to my family, please.

2. Your Children Will Become What You Are, so Be What You Want Them to Be

I’m pretty sure that means my children are destined to be assholes. Because that’s kind of how I’m being to them lately. I mean, usually it’s when they provoke me. (What? You think a grown woman is above being provoked by a 2- and 5-year-old? Ha. Ha. Ha.)

But since all this breast cancer stuff started? I’m just being that way for practically no reason other than I’m an asshole, apparently. Here, I fought tooth and nail to have my kids. To work from home so I could be with them. They’re awesome and hilarious and brilliant. Also? They’re so totally annoying. Always wanting to be fed. Then there’s the whining. The tattling. The incessant need to be cared for. Is it so wrong to want to forget that I have to mind anyone for the afternoon but myself because I just want a nap? Is hoping my children are inspired by me to become habitual nappers so terribly, terribly wrong?

3. Everyone You Meet Is Fighting a Battle You Know Nothing About. Be Kind. Always.

No. 2 notwithstanding, as much as I’ve been reading No. 3 lately and totally thinking this one applies to me, now I’m pretty sure it actually applies more to my kids instead. Everyone knows the battle I’m fighting; I haven’t exactly been secretive about my every last thought and pang.

But my breast cancer surgery and the year-long reconstruction process is affecting my kids in ways that I can’t see and they can’t communicate (although my 5-year-old came pretty close one day when she screamed at me, “I’m mad that you’re getting all the care! I’m mad that your breasts are sick!”).

I am starting to feel that’s something happening with them, though. For the most part, my 5-year-old is actually being eerily nice to me, and since she’s usually just nicest to herself, it’s off-putting. My 2-year-old thinks every part of my body has a boo-boo, so she kisses it. That’s including the piece of spinach I had stuck in my tooth the other day. If she doesn’t deserve some empathy for doing that, I don’t know who does.

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I remember realizing at some point how grateful I was that I was the one in my family diagnosed with cancer and not my husband or kids. Because I can control what happens to me, or at least have some amount of control how it happens, and I’d feel wildly out-of-control and despondent if this were happening to a loved one over whom I had less control. Not just health-wise, but emotionally, too. Yet, watching my family for signals that something is going on inside of them that I can’t help because they’re upset for, or about, me? It’s almost just as bad.

Here’s a new meme that needs to start making the rounds: Be kind to my family, please. Maybe you can’t see it, but they have an asshole for a wife and mom. And I can’t deal because I just need a nap.

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