Monday, February 15, 2010
is that all they needed?
since i barely survived the last chemo treatment, the cancer is gone and my body is suddenly manifesting every single bad reaction possible to the toxins, i decided to stop it. let's see what my body can do - along with the addition of $800 worth of supplements from the metaphysical oncologist.
2 weeks post-chemo and i am amazed at how much better i feel. i get out of bed and walk around. i am laughing like crazy. my anxiety levels have dropped. i am only nauseated when i talk about the treatment.
for the year of the tiger, my out-of-control teenagers are purring around me like happy kittens, all smiling and cuddly. i tell zarina she can't go out, and she says, ok, i'll stay and help you with rara's sleepover. she washes dishes, she tells jokes, she apologizes.
i tell sasha that she needs to go out a bit less and start working on her homework. and she does. her curfew is 12:30pm and she comes home - breathless and racing down the hallway - at 12:27.
rara stops crying over every little thing - though she is still eating way too much sugar (she inherited my addiction) - and she isn't as clingy either.
i decide that when i'm with them, i need to stop taking phone calls or cutting our time short for other appointments or including other people.
it makes me realize how unfair it all is for mothers. i remember reading in Oprah once that for women, there is no such thing as the family/work balance -
rara needs help with her math
you see, as a mother, you need to be able to drop everything you're doing and focus on your kids. so you have to make a choice.
you can focus on your work and your career and you can shoot up the corporate ladder and be able to afford school tuition and trips abroad and afterschool classes and new clothes and the mortgage or rent for living in a safe and easily accessible neighborhood.
you can make homemade food and all eat meals together (whatever you can afford), you can make it to parent-teacher appointments and never have to cancel at the last minute for a sudden presentation or a new client. you can trudge along carrying your groceries home rather than having them delivered or taking a taxi (i remember doing that, with a baby strapped to my chest). you can pay attention to who your kids are talking to and where they are going afterschool and what they are wearing.
but in the back of your mind, you're still not more cheerful because you're stressing about your late rent and you're wondering how you can afford to get someone in to fix the stove or the broken stairs or the leaky washing machine.
if you're a single mother, you can hook up with a guy who is desperate to reinvent himself and you can coddle him and indulge his insecurities (another full time job) and then get him to pay your bills.
if you're married, you can hope that your husband is willing to swallow the resentment, emotional burden and physical exhaustion of being the sole breadwinner while it seems to him that you are having picnics in the playground. and in trade, you will generally cook and serve four meals a day (one dinner for the kids, one for the adults) during the week and six on the weekend (adult meals and kids' meals), as well as find his socks in the morning and entertain or indulge your in-laws in a big way.
unlike president obama, if you're a woman who drops everything to get to a recital or a birthday party, they mutter behind your back and you don't get asked to step up to the next job because you "can't get your priorities straight." i know it's a common complaint, but if you're a man, being an active parent is a sign of nobility. if you're a woman, it a weakness.
basically, for women - and for mothers in particular - there is NO balance. you choose one or the other (maybe you shift back and forth, like i do) but one or the other suffers.
currently, for me, the choice was focusing on ME, getting well or focusing on the amazons and letting them drink in the liquid of my attention so they could grow properly again.
the amazons immediately responded.
it always reminds of that line in the air safety presentations and cards that you ignore as the plane is preparing for take-off. "parents: put on your OWN oxygen mask first and then help your children."
it's so simple and so NOT easy.