On my way through the store today to return pants for Greta, who has grown out of ALL of her fall/autumn pants (!), I spotted a shirt with Weekend Warrior emblazoned on the front. That’s a good description of these days. And, spoiler alert, Greta chose to keep the pants that had some sort of bling, sparkle, or pattern. This girl lives big in all she does.
I’ve lost track of how many different chemotherapy drugs I’ve been on, but it’s more than a half-dozen or so. Each drug is (surprisingly) different in it’s behavior within my body and the side effects it produces. This drug, which I’ve been on since August, hits me within hours of leaving the chemo chair; it’s an almost-immediate impact. Most Monday evenings, I end up feeling like I have the flu. That feeling lasts for a couple of days, and I spend most of those days resting, sleeping, or engaged in relatively sedentary things because moving hurts–just like your body hurts when you have the flu. By Friday, the acute side effects have worn off, and — while I’m still tired, achey, and recovering — a nap becomes optional instead of a necessity. Saturday and Sunday — the days that Brad, Maren and Greta are home from work and school — are my best days of the week. It’s a wonderful schedule in that regard.
I’ve been on this protocol since August, and my last dose of hair-killing chemo was in July. I’ve officially had one haircut (at my favorite salon: Lunatic Fringe–shout out to my locals!) and will need another soon. Maren and I downloaded the Bitmoji app this weekend (which allows you to create an animated caricature of yourself that you can then use when texting, etc.) It was fun to make a “Jen” at this moment in time: a strawberry blonde spikey pixie hair style. I was also pleased to see that there was a ‘bald’ option in the Bitmoji app; they also allow you to add wrinkles, choose your body size, and other specific features. It was both fun and representative of most of the population.
The match-up of my starting a chemo drug that sucks much of my energy with both girls being in full-time school is a blessing to all of us. I’m able to mom them in the morning as we do the before school runaround. They go off cheerful; I stay home cheerful. They both still run pellmell into the house when they get off the bus, and I love that enthusiasm: running for running’s sake. Our afternoon routines vary based on our evening activities, but it is a good mix of all our interests and pursuits. As I look around my home and reflect on our days, I’m proud of the life that Brad and I have built.
Last weekend we went ice-skating. Our friend took a family picture of the four of us on the ice. It’s the first family photo I can recall where we’re all standing as a group; neither Brad nor I is holding Greta. (The fact that neither of us picked her up may have something to do with the fact that we were both on ice skates and I didn’t trust myself to pick her up.) As I look at the photo, both girls look like big kids. It’s consistent with a shift that has taken place this year. With Greta in school full time, wearing size 7 clothes, making her own bed, reading and writing, and eating a new food every month, she has decisively moved on to a new stage. It’s a marked separation: I don’t remember the last time I buckled her seatbelt, physically got her dressed, helped her in the bathroom, or brushed her teeth. She’s independently flourishing. It makes me nostalgic in the moments that I tie her shoes, wash her hair, read her stories, and snuggle her on my lap as I know that these will be left soon enough as she moves on to the next stage.
Greta occasionally pulls delay-of-bedtime stunts, and one thing that has calmed her and allowed her to settle down for years is for her to take something of mine to bed with her: a softy vest, a hoodie, or — most recently — wearing my bracelet, a gift from a friend, that says ‘choose joy’. I found a sweet little DIY jewelry business in my town (The Silver Diva for local friends), and took Maren and Chief Sister in last weekend to pick up a few things. We had a bracelet made for Greta that says ‘choose joy’ so that she can wear her reminder whenever she wants. Maren picked out her own bracelet too, and chose the words ‘be brave.’ I love these words from and for my girls; I love that they are choosing what they want to think about, the way they want to conduct themselves, and developing their sense of self. We have brilliant and bold girls.
Maren, too, is moving through milestones. She has a strong friend base at school and they share books: they are devouring one series after another and we parents are collectively high-fiving each other that such an awesome group of kids have found each other. Driving carpool is one of my favorite things to do: listening to the chatter and conversation is hilariously entertaining. She’s battling the emotions, anxiety, and awareness that come with growing up, but doing it well. I’m proud of her.
Today is a quiet day for me. Brad and I seem to be working through a season where we deal with whatever is figuratively ‘on fire.’ He spent the bulk of the weekend re-plumbing our problematic sump pump, and we can now safely say that we won’t have a water problem with that anytime soon. I’m grateful for a handy husband and for my dad and friends that help with such tasks. We’re having problems with The Cloud and storing pictures across our computer/devices (again), so I’m using today’s energy to go to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store hoping that they can explain and troubleshoot. Brad’s phone is out of memory and it’s driving him crazy, and we can’t clear the phone until we are sure we won’t wipe The Cloud at the same time. (You can pray that I figure this out today with assistance!) Brad is a PC guy because of his job, and I have been a Mac user for ten years and really don’t want to change. But as we think about how to store photos for the long haul, it is problematic to be on two different platforms where we both want access to our photo library. If I had the time, energy, and money, I would take a technology class (or something) so that I could really understand what I’m doing. Oh well. It’s not a real problem, but it’s tedious and it’s what I’m thinking about today.
Choose joy. — Greta
Be brave. — Maren
Do today well. — Jen