I was terrified to show Halen my bald head. She didn’t respond well to my initial haircut and was pretty concerned about my head shaving. I convinced her it was for Mommy to feel better and it would keep me cool in the summertime. So, when my hair actually fell out, I was pretty nervous to show her. Obviously, I had to show her eventually. One day when she came home from a playdate, I took her in my arms, told her at the doctor I got another haircut and slipped off my hat. Her immediate response, “Mommy you’re so pretty!” I was blown away by her response. It was exactly what my mama heart yearned to hear and her sweet innocence provided just that. Children are such a gift.
Despite the fact that I have cancer, this parenting phase of our life is insane. We are in the trenches. Halen is three and is 95% potty trained (except for at the pool for some reason...eye bulge), she is fiercely independent, she will sneak away and do something on her own silently (which is both unnerving and kind of nice at the same time), she is talkative, moves a million miles an hour, she's loud and shows lots of BIG love to everyone. Henley is 13 months, drunk walking everywhere, a total ham, happy as can be, suddenly has a lot to say (in her own language) and dons a smile until her sister knocks her down or takes her toys away. The girls play together about 50% of the time right now, which is so glorious and makes me look forward to how well they'll interact next summer.
The mornings are exciting for me, I love hearing my babies wake up for the day, seeing their bright-eyed faces and sweet voices as the sun creeps through their window. “Hi mommy, how was your sleeps?” Music to my ears. Then we go get Henley, who has been sleeping about 70% (unintended use of multiple percentages in this post) of the time, through the night, in her own room now. We shuffle downstairs and make breakfast, usually consisting of berries, baby bananas, eggs and toast. The days lately have been made up of swimming at our local community pool, walks around the park, swinging in our backyard and playing inside. Nap times are always that quiet time that every parent must cherish, a reset button if you will. The shiitake-storm for us is in the evenings. The generous, wonderful help we’ve received is usually during the day, and most everyone leaves by evening time. (Which makes sense.) A family will deliver us a meal, and quickly scoot away as to not disturb us. (You are not disturbing us, I love company.) Feeding the girls, and getting them to bed in one piece is seriously like tackling a two-headed crocodile covered in slime. Slime is thrown everywhere, crocodile's head thrashes side to side, crocodile plays musical chairs with mom and dad, one head of the crocodile needs to be bribed to eat, while the other head never has enough food.
Halen is our picky, bird eater. She was the one I was always feeding on the go, it was like a drive by. Now I still find the only way I can get food into her belly is if I manually feed the food to her, in between her long stories about her favorite parts of the day, or Rapunzel. Henley, on the other hand is my foodie, she will eat anything and everything I put in front of her…constantly signing for more. And her lovely food trick is to put whatever meal is given to her, in her hair…every single meal. BAH! Then after getting the precious two-headed crocodile cleaned up from dinner, each girl is given their milk, up to jammies and books and bed. Some nights we all stay together and others we divide and conquer.
Halen has been saying the cutest, most endearing things lately...one of them is, "Mommy, I got you." And she pulls me toward her as if our roles are switched, she's the parent and I am the daughter. She'll be a wonderful mommy one day. After our nightly prayer and talk about the day we give kisses and I slip out of Halen's room. With Henley, I turn on her sound machine and rock her for a few minutes, as she is sucking her thumb and snuggling her blankie, I lay her down in her crib and sneak out of the room. As much as I love my girlies awake and hearing all their stories and sounds, it sure is nice to see them in their peaceful slumber.
Cancer is a flounder that is for sure, but parenting two little ones WHILE having cancer, good grief that deserves its own praises. Thankfully, my body just runs with it, but some days I am exhausted and can’t do much. My stomach has this aching nauseas lull, kind of like the first trimester of pregnancy, kind of like being hungover...except I also have this swirling of odd medicine constantly moving around my body. (Did I mention how much I dislike drugs and medicine....) Most times I just push through, because that’s what moms do. I battle the nasty taste in my mouth and changing taste buds that I can’t seem to figure out. I get overheated and dehydrated easily, so going outside can be tricky with little ones. I am tired so much faster than usual, which is hard with keeping up with tiny people. My body moves slower and reacts at a glacial pace sometimes.
My brain tries to keep up, but I miss things a lot. Evan, bless his heart, tries so hard not to get frustrated with me and the girls and the house and the whole situation, but we are all people and have flaws and we will make mistakes. Sometimes I wish there was an evening shift that could come put the girls to bed and handle all the crazy.....but hey what am I thinking, this is my circus and these are MY monkeys. And I love them so. I wouldn't trade in this life, these moments, these monkeys for anything. Next summer we will be off playing on a beach somewhere or lake somewhere and we'll look back, happy to be out of this chapter, but grateful for the chapter that brought us closer than we thought possible. Closer to living the life Jesus intended us to live, together.