I Didn't Read About This In Any Parenting Books...

I remember the anxiety I felt the first time I became a mother. Not in those first few days...when I was in the heaven that is an hours old baby. Those sweet smelling, teeny tiny little bodies that melt into you...I treasure those early moments. I still have days now when I long for that...for just one more newborn. Instead, I'm talking about shortly after, when they send you home from the hospital two days later and you find yourself exhausted, standing just over the threshold of your house, holding one of those ridiculously awkward bucket carriers as you utter out-loud, "Uh, ok, ...now what?" I always battled a bit of the baby blues; I think because it just felt so overwhelming to me...the enormity of the process...raising a child to adulthood.

But then you get a few years of motherhood under your belt and you start to get a bit overconfident. A couple of years in, I thought I knew everything. I mean, how hard can parenting be? You simply feed them, change diapers, they nap twice a day and they go to bed at 7:00. Easy, right? Even at this point in my mothering, I'm pretty certain I could get almost any baby to sleep through the night, I can change diapers with my eyes closed (we did diapers for ten years in a row) and I am fairly convinced, that after four success stories, I've mastered the art of potty-training. However, these itty bitty little people grow up and so do our responsibilities - and what moms realize in the school age years, is that we really don't know anything. The problems are heavier, there is much less black and white and so much more gray, there are hearts that need shepherding and these sweet babies have grown into small adults with all of their own "stuff." So that is where I have been in the past year or two...a mother of school-age kids coming to terms with the reality that I know very little and accepting that it really does not get easier as they get older...the parenting challenges simply shift to different arenas...but it certainly is no less complicated. I am continually looking to more experienced moms for advice. I was completely overwhelmed by my responsibilities...feeling like mediocre would have to be my new normal because I was not equipped for this motherhood thing.

And just when I thought I had been completely humbled...

...my child was diagnosed with cancer.

If I was insecure in my mothering skills before...now what? This situation is so much bigger than I am and I am not trained to walk this child through this. I can barely hold myself up. How do I carry her? I keep delivering bad news. She is sad and then rallies, puts a smile on her face and moves forward. Then I give her more bad news and she does it again...the same cycle. How many times can we do this before the smile is permanently gone? Before her spirit is irreparably crushed? Will she cling to Jesus...or run from God because His plan seems too hard to understand? I tell her God is good...but really, how do I convince her of this? It seems as though every hour contains a new disappointment. Some large, some small...but one hard thing after another, after another, after another. How can a ten year old deal with this?

In the next few days, we have to sit down and give her Part II of this nightmare. Not only must she endure months of chemotherapy...feeling awful and missing out on life, but soon, she will face a surgery that may be even more difficult. In fact, the chemo could seem easy in comparison to what she will be left to deal with after we remove this tumor. There are several options...but none are ones that a mother would choose for her child. I want her to have a leg that both looks normal and functions well...and from what we are researching...these two things do not go together...they do not co-exist. Can I give her this bad news too? How do I find the words? What do I say? How much can this precious child take? Why God? It is so difficult to understand.

When I signed up to become a mother, this isn't what I had in mind. I was day-dreaming about what color to paint the nursery and chubby baby snuggles and a toddler with a little hair sprout popping out of her head. Walking my child through a devastating diagnosis, explaining life-altering surgery...this was not my plan.

Wrestling with my own suffering is one thing...difficult, but do-able. Helping this child through hers? Equipping her to deal with a new life? To answer people's questions? To endure sorrow and disappointment? To deal with stares and mean kids? To accept that everything is different now and that we can never go back? To trust God's plan? To embrace unwanted change? Not to get jealous of kids who are healthy and carefree? To keep her sweet spirit in tact? To look at the big picture...to see how she will be able to use this part of her story?

Again, more questions than answers these days. I'm feeling lost as a mother right now - so unsure of each next step. It is more challenging than anything I have ever done. If I feel as though the burden is so much that I could crumble at any moment...how do I then hand this journey to a child...to my child?

It just seems like far too much for her to carry...

1 comment:

kelly damron said...

Tiffany, Thank you from the bottom of my heart that you are so willing to open your heart and share with us how you are feeling. It just takes my breath away to read your words and I can feel your pain as you write. I want to be able to wipe it all away and make it go away forever. I would give anything if there was a way to change all of this for you. Being from the outside and seeing this from my perspective I can really see Jesus in every step of this journey. I read your words and to think you can get up each day and face this nightmare something HUGE has to be in this. Something much bigger than we are. It has to be Jesus. He is pouring Himself into you everyday. He has too, because who can endure this and not shut down completely. I read your words and think Tiffany is the strongest person I know. I could never be so strong and faithful in the mist of a nightmare. But I see how Jesus is in this with you. It is a blessing to all of us who are reading your words because Jesus is being glorified everyday you get up and choose to have faith. What an amazing example of Jesus you are being to Bailey. You asked how can I convince her that Jesus is good? You are showing her that truth everyday by your example of faith. She is seeing Jesus in you. She is seeing the HOPE you have in Jesus. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. We are praying for you. We know there will be days when you feel you can't do this. But that when we hope our prayers will be felt the most. Hang in there Tiffany. You can do this because you have Jesus and thru Him we can do ALL things!! xoxo, Kelly Damron