Tag Archives: parenting

Impatience and the Refresh Button

Someone in the great big universe is telling me that all good things come to those who wait. Although I feel like I already learned this lesson a few times over in the cancer battle this last year. But, I find myself increasingly impatient with my ability to move on at the speed I want – which is probably a little too close to warp speed.

The last few days I have – literally – been watching my email. And, hitting the refresh button as if the server is not fast enough.

For those of you not familiar (is there anyone left out there?) next to your web address bar, there is a little circle button. It also exists in my gmail account near the inbox. It is for the most impatient of us. It is the refresh button – the capability to look at what has changed in the 10 seconds since the last time that your computer talked to the server.

I am awaiting news on a soccer team. In a change of plans some of the kids on our previous team are moving to another league – along with the coach. I coached before all this, and get to coach again, but I am currently waiting to see which boys can play with us – all friends, all sweet. But I wait to tell the other parents who is in and who is out. I refresh to see a note from the parents.

I am awaiting news on a job that would be the perfect fit – I believe – for my intellectual and professional needs. I had four interviews in two days and loved everyone I met. Now I wait to hear.

And, I had to wait until today to play tennis. This wasn’t a refresh button but it was still a waiting game. I was ready Monday morning to play but in a literal freak of nature, Austin got deluged with rain the last three days. Almost 2 inches – which in July is almost unheard of in the past few years. I, clearly, had to wait for dry courts. But I did wait, and I am so very glad. Because today I played tennis for the first time in two years – and probably ten before that. I got beaten by an 11 year old at the courts. And I liked it.

I am hitting the refresh button on my life right now – the news I’m awaiting is for my next chapter: Soccer coach?? Part time employee? Tennis player? I can’t even believe I have come so far in one year. But that doesn’t mean that I like to be in the waiting place. I am reminded – again – of a Dr. Suess favorite “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” I am ready for my boom band.

a most useless place. The Waiting Place…

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

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The Boring Becomes Beautiful

I think this will be a relatively mundane note. After all, there is no chemo to recount, no medical issue to regale, no new side effect to lament. I did have stitches taken out of my new rack last week – so I am not allowed to swim for another week. And I have to wear an underwire bra all the time. I’m pretty happy with those constraints. Strike that – damn happy.

In another week, it will be like this almost never happened. I mean, I use a hairbrush regularly. I tore the pockets out of all the bras I bought from Nordstrom – a very cathartic exercise by the way.I don’t nap anymore. My side effects seem to have been tamed. We joined a swim and tennis club. Davis and I went on dates. We are contemplating our next family trip. I am looking for a part time job. The kids are in camps and playdates (one of which I’m “supervising” while I write this note – ha!)

There are some changes to be sure. I went and bought new swimsuits because my old ones were too small – in the chest! I am a lot more zen with the family … does it really matter if they have 5 sour patch kids or 8? Does 15 minutes later at bedtime matter in the scheme of life? Our mantra remains “Go with happy …”

I wonder how I will approach life differently. I know I approach my health differently – I am much more careful about food. I have become that green smoothie person – every day kale and bananas. And, every day the kids get their cup too.  I have no caffeine after 2pm, one light beer at night. I have switched to tea with only one soda a day. Veggies and balance for all – we have even eaten brussel sprouts twice in the last month!

I think in many ways after a life-changing event like this you “choose” from your old life. I didn’t like the stress that would build when Davis traveled, so I will seek help this time. I didn’t like that I had no time to exercise, so I will build that into our calendar. I will be more selective about jobs and projects because the tradeoffs matter. I love that we have a community of friends that supported us and want to continue girls nights and adult dates. And, I look at those friends and say, now, how can I help?

Along the same lines, as I embark on this job hunt, I find myself looking at jobs for their merit, for their flexibility, for their pay, for their intellect. Not for the fact that I need one to feel whole or justified in my awesomeness. You want to hear about my qualification? I beat cancer. Oh, and yes, I do have business development experience netting over $500K in paid and in kind partnerships from that one job. And yes, I want something part time only.

A special shout out to our lovely amazing talented and kind nanny : Miss Lauren has left to go to medical school, so we embark on a new journey – with help in a different form,

Because I am capable of managing life again. Even the crazy mixed up fabulously busy and fun life of Team Ward.

 

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To my kids – read when you are 18

Maybe you should wait to read this until you are a parent which hopefully won’t be at 18. Not that I’m prejuding your choices (yay if I’m a grandma already I guess!), I totally support you! But parenting is hard and I hope you don’t have to handle its delicate balance until you are at least 30.

So here it is – your Dad and I have perpetuated many untruths on you. You are 5 and 7 and so I somehow justify it by thinking it’s above your paygrade, and I hope that doesn’t scar you for life.

I’ll go with the low hanging fruit: Christmas. There is no Santa Claus. That was us. Filling up your stockings, wrapping the presents that you whispered into the stranger’s ear at Barton Creek after being coached. No magic reindeer either. So that food we put out? Swept away by Dad.

While we’re on the magic subject – the Elf that showed up at our house last year that you named Little Red? The idea was created by a brillant marketer. His mischievous acts? Dad and I after you go to bed. We found ideas on pinterest and in an effort to one up each other, parents all over the country participate in this ritual that some nights was relatively stressful since we had to pretend Santa Claus was coming and hide all the presents we would wrap each night. They are hidden in the guest room closet if you were wondering. Every year.

Dispelling myths? That means no Easter Bunny and no Tooth Fairy. Both us, too. We sat up until 10pm filling up a hundred eggs for you this year so that you could all have the same amount and fill up your baskets. The tooth fairy is a figment of someone’s imagination in the 50s to celebrate your move into big kiddo realm. Of course, we weren’t expecting sister to lose 5 teeth in two weeks and we had to make a special trip to the bank for the $1 coins. Ironically, you seem not to notice anything other than the “cash money” $1 bill. Did you know that each time the Tooth Fairy comes your Dad and I go through all of our foreign coins we accumulated on our travels to find two interesting ones for you? Maybe soem day you will care about that.

Um, and babies don’t always come out of bellies like you did, but you probably know that by now. Which means there is no deer doctor that runs around performing C sections.

And the part of the Daddy and part of the Mommy that get together? I’m still not prepared to answer how.

There were also some major tragedies this last year that we didn’t share. But you are kids, you don’t need to know those details. For you, things are safe and happy and it’s summer. SO, if you ask we say some people got hurt, some people maybe died, and the perpetrators made “bad decisions.” Even our tension with North Korea was answered that way … Henry, no more reading the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

So those are some of the big ones. I will admit that most of those were to keep up with the times – and to perpetuate our joy at your joy. We love the look on your faces when the magic happens. I wish we could keep that forever.

Now, the last year there have been some half truths as well – I didn’t, couldn’t tell you all about the cancer battle. Cancer bugs as well call them? Incredibly malignant cells that can proliferate all over your body. It was serious although I will be fine now. Although thechance will always be there that it will come back. I have done everything possible – the chemo medicine, the laserlight (radiation) and my surgery to get out the cancer bugs. But breast cancer does not have a remission it just has a “gone for now.”

I’m sorry we didn’t get to go to Dubai, and that I had a year where I lost my hair, was tired, and couldn’t play with you the way I wanted. I’m sorry that we glossed over the surgeries, but there was no way that I could tell you that I had drains coming out of my body, or that my breasts were gone. And now, as I enter into my last major surgery, I have told you that they are fixing some muscles. They are actually giving me my very own new set of boobs.

And I don’t have nipples so I kinda look like the barbies you played with yesterday in the pool.

I’m not ashamed of the half truths because they keep me going. I like to pretend that this is all no big deal too.

And, after you go to bed, your Dad and I watch super fun TV shows without you … and sometimes we go see movies and even go out with our friends and drink alcohol and eat breakfast tacos at 1 in the morning. But you can’t do that until you’re 21. Sorry.

.emmynoteeth

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Friday Night Milestones

This has been a week of proving to myself – and to others around me – that I am back in some small measure. I planned a fantastic surprise birthday party for my amazing, busy, now 40-year old husband … and it was like old times. Except for the fact that everyone commented on my hair and how long it was (bangs) AND that I had to take a nap the day before because of all my excitement and I was up until midnight because I didn’t get my sleeping meds on board until late AND I got totally sunburned on my neck sunburned in the 30 minutes I was outside setting up.

But more than all that, it was a milestone for me to be normal again … and so on a Friday night when normal people are enjoying their date nights or big plans, I update my blog in front of America’s Home Funniest Videos as Emmy calls it. Eating leftover pizza and drinking leftover beer. And loving it.

The medical milestones are equally important – I have my last surgery next Thursday and we are all relatively unfazed. Anesthesia? Replacing my expanders with implants? Whatever. Did I get the kids lunches made?

Side note – not a good idea to do a belly flop when you have had recent chest surgery. I speak from experience. Don’t tell my doctor but it was woefully uncomfortable and I didn’t catch any of the minnows and I laughed until I cried.

We also had our first family dance recital – where I was told in no uncertain terms that I did not appropriately put makeup on my daughter who is 5. I put on too little. I went with the daytime look and needed NIGHTTIME.

Everyone wants to know how I am. I am better, I am altered, next week I will be out at the end of the week, but I am totally happy. I will admit that I look forward to conversations about my next job … being a full time Mom and running errands with three yahoos in tow or trying to have a moment’s sanity is a skill I may sadly lack.

And, as to my project with Duke? I am working with the Alumni Affairs office to establish the Blue Devils vs. Cancer organization as an umbrella organization. They have asked to launch Duke Today Alumni website using my story … and I am talking with the Duke Cancer Institute to develop individual fundraising websites.

What once was routine is now a pleasure – juggling the many lives of mommyhood, survivorhood, wifehood – (party planner, tooth fairy, backstage Mom, cheerleader, reading expert and coach – all in the last week)

I hope to be better about

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All The News That’s Fit to Print

When I was little I had many attempts at keeping a daily diary. It never worked. I would write furiously for days or even weeks, but then I would miss a couple of days. I would feel overwhelmed by all the news I had to impart on those missed days and put it off a few more. Then I would have multiple ideas on what to say and couldn’t decide so I would put it off further. A week or two would go by and I would be – literally – paralyzed by my own inaction. How could I possibly just start new?

Clearly, I haven’t left everything behind.

I have been wanting to write for a while now, but have been paralyzed by that same feeling – how much I have to write! how many thoughts! how much news! Today I decided – screw it. I’ll write what I can. The evolution continues.

I have recovered greatly from my surgery. I still can’t sleep on my stomach and have some weird sensations and twinges, but I feel pretty normal given the fact I have giant plastic balloons in my chest. I am still working on my stamina – I did get the clearance to start exercising again – and strangely, I was elated! I never much liked exercising for its own sake, but the inability to even go for a fast walk for so many months left me feeling like a shell of myself. Just being back on the soccer field to help with my son’s soccer tournament coaching was a joy. And, exhausting.

I have enjoyed the fact that as I improve, the ripples of that improvement spread across our entire family. My husband suddenly seems lighter – I am able to help shoulder the burden in a meaningful way. We are talking about the future – traveling, next year’s school year – and it is starting to feel almost normal.

And the children are elated that I am up, around, helping, playing.

Henry, the oldest at a mere 7, is processing. Always. We have had a myriad of conversation over the past weeks I didn’t expect – about the Boston bombings, the Cleveland rescues, Austin bond elections for schools. (No I didn’t bring these up – thanks school!) But the conversation seems to often come back to my health. On Friday night, he wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate Mommy feeling better again.

This weekend, Mother’s Day, I didn’t take naps, we went for a hike … it was blissfully normal. And yet, at the end of the day Henry would ask about my last surgery – when was it? what was it? did I have stitches?

I feel guilty that I am not sharing the details of this reconstruction with them only when I am evading questions in those conversations. I know that there is too much information for them to process, and that they just need to see me recover, and to them, I am there. They are especially excited that I have bangs 🙂

Much of what I have learned on my journey is with me – a sense of calm, understanding my health is important (yes I am still drinking the green smoothies daily and amazingly haven’t gotten sick since I started – three months!). And, I have more patience. It manifests itself in small ways – helping Emmy read, or walking with Carter to the kiddie pool and back for the fourth time. Or answering the question from Henry for the fourth night in a row – are you almost all better, Mama?

Mostly, yes.

Yay, he says and opens his arms wide for another hug

.hair

 

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Breast Cancer on Downton Abbey?

I know that I have different levels of sensitivity after this cancer thing. I feel less inclined to worry about chaos in the house. For example, David decided to “clean” our fish tank that we had emptied of fish and water a year ago in preparation for our trip to Dubai. With the kids’ help, he got all 65 pieces of tubing, pumps, protein skimmers, tank pieces, lid etc and arrayed them all over the house and kitchen in the cleaning process. I was making a batch of carbonara draining noodles in one side of the sink while Henry scrubbed away at goodness knows what on a thingamajog of years of salt water, sand, critter juice and other corrosion. You know what, no big deal.

Then, I watched a few minutes of Season 3 of Downton Abbey – though I have all of it on DVR – and was weirdly affected by the plot line that (SPOILER ALERT) the housekeeper has a lump in her breast. It was so weird. She is in 1920s England on a fictional show and yet I felt her pain and fear. Partly because I had just relived all of that timing in writing my book of this journey (yes I’m still in early stages!) But partly because I was oddly unnerved that it was a plot point. I remember it was on Sex and the City. But in Downton – my refuge from regular life?

I am curious to see how it is handled given that (hopefully) much has changed in the diagnosis and treatment. I cringed when the cook asked “will it hurt?” on the biopsy. YES. And it may bleed everywhere and (there’s too much more to say)

I don’t seem too bothered by what the kids do these days in general. Carter washes his hair about once a week. We had smores the last two nights for dessert. Cleanliness is kinda relative. Licking each other is off limits but with the dog up in our business every day …

But then, my jeans got tight. Not like weirdly tight, just a little poochy tight. I was terrified that it was a sign of the side effects of tamoxifen – which I have officially been taking for five weeks. But then I realized that it’s also been Christmas. I’ve had a few glasses of wine, at least a block of cream cheese jalapeno dip – damn you Christy Browning – and I can’t tell you how many days we went to Krispy Kreme to entertain the kids when it was 20 degrees. And they hand you a hot doughnut off the assembly line. What’s a girl to do?

But, after a few days of watching my intake I have realized that it’s probably a little bit of an overreaction. The jeans aren’t quite as muffiny. Instead of the tamo tummy, I have the holiday tummy. We will see if I can get rid of it.

I just don’t know how I’m going to handle the Downton Abbey plot insertion. Will she be one of the characters that doesn’t come back this year? (I don’t think so because I think I know who isn’t BUT those damn Brits who saw it all before us colonists have been spoiling it all over the net). I already hate Thomas and his constant meddling and evil-ness. Cancer is evil. No evil allowed in my refuge. I am still counting on a lucky 13 this year.

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A Year in Review, Survivorship Acknolwedged

In many ways, I am now intimidated to write. When I had a story, a journey, a battle, it was easy – chronicle and share. There was a duty, a responsibility, and certainly a cathartic element. Now, my life is relatively normal. But then again it’s not. And that complexity begs exploring.

Every time I sit down to write, something happens – it’s that time of year. First it’s the chaos and joy of Christmas at our house – gingerbread houses, an elf that has quite a mischievous side, the requisite weird viruses, sinus infections, present shopping and schedule coordinating. There is so much joy. The kids sing along to carols in the car, race to change the advent calendars … and after Friday, there are even more hugs and I love yous and blessings counted.

My biggest debate right now is how to acknowledge the year we have had, without letting it define us. Even the Christmas card – do I include a letter whose sole purpose would be to describe the year we have had and what we have battled? I decided to leave it out. Cancer has had too much control over 2012, now it’s time to move on.

Or is it? I am reminded every time I get dressed and have to put on my Nordstrom ladies. I am reminded every time that I have to take a nap because my energy still isn’t what it used to be. I am reminded when I take my 9 pills at night, including my new friend tamoxifen (no side effects yet but I’m waiting). I am reminded every time I get a request to talk about my journey, to help someone new on the cancer rollercoaster. I am reminded every time I look the mirror or get a compliment on my “new pixie cut”.

I have seen all my doctors and they are all amazed at my progress – my radiation oncologist joked that he would have treated me longer if he knew how well I would heal. It wasn’t really funny. But, the news is all good. Now I move to “survivorship” which actually has classes and responsibility (including regular exercise and stretching). But it isn’t a switch that got turned off – my body is altered, my lens is different.

What a difference a year makes – as I walked a newly diagnosed lady here in Austin through my entire battle I realized how far we have actually come. What we have done as a community – family and friends. We made it through with the family unscathed – the kids happy and joyous, my husband – though not in the position we had planned – happy with his role and hopefully having enjoyed the extra time with us. And I am proud, I am thankful. And I have to at least acknowledge it.

This Christmas season, this holiday season, be thankful for little things – and build memories. This should not be about stuff, it should be about experiences. Create as much joy as you can – that’s what we all hope to remember from 2012.

The mind is a terrifically equipped machine – with memory mostly for the happy stuff. That is another reason to be thankful.

Wards Dec 2012-8

Now, to share with you that I practice what I preach, here is a link to our family pictures: wardspictures.shutterfly.com

A link to the Dinsey SCUBA trip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuBCX2w1wZc

And, a link to our Ward family Christmas card assembly line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p27EU9bLXa4

Merry Holidays and a Happy New Year. Hopefully 2013 will not be as eventful! Thank you to everyone for your help and love and support in the big and small ways. Love, Team Ward.

Wards Dec 2012-3

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