Surrounded by no less than four children, ages 12 and under. Playing outside, going for walks in our bare feet down the gravel road, building fires and roasting marshmallows. Where making meals for 10 is the equivalent of most people cooking for one…how do you cook for that few people. Friends come and go, coffee is only a request away…and the Bailey’s is not difficult to find.
Grandma to all of these little ones is in and out and running a busy campground, fulfilling her duties as a city councilor (even taking an unplanned trip out of town for meetings), and shopping and shipping for fly-in lodges who pay her to keep them supplied with everything they need from groceries to parts to shuttling people when needed.
This is where I come to relax.
No, I am not kidding.
This is my parent’s home. Right now there are six children (ages 1 – 10) eating a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken noodle soup. Yesterday I made pancakes and bacon for breakfast for seven children…yesterday was the day my mom had to leave for a meetings and left my dad and I in charge of all these little ones she welcomes into her home for the summer.
I came to drop my boys off and honestly…I don’t ever want to leave. For some reason, this trip just has me wanting to stay forever.
The transition from active cancer care to active real life has me feeling like I need to hit the reset button. Not in a traditional way where everything old is left behind and the new chapter begins. Life doesn’t work like that. There is a new normal, and unlike an event such as a death, I have been blessed with a slow transitional period to the new normal. Much of my old normal must also be brought with me to the new normal.
One thing that I am struggling with when it comes to the after-cancer me is my lack of strength and endurance. Having broken my ankle in May has put a huge damper on any real physical activity to build my endurance up and I have been doing things such as walking and just hanging out with all these kids is tiring enough as it is!
I want to be the old me and am very hard on myself to kick it up a notch. Then I wonder if I am pushing too hard or if this is the only way to get back on track. It was a very difficult lesson to learn how to listen to my body and learn to slow down and relax more. Now I have to push past the messages…or do I?
At what point do I start to expect to have my strength and endurance back? The doctors tell me up to three years from the end of treatment. It has to start somewhere though. Do I start pushing now? Do I allow my body more time to heal? I’ve had five surgeries in just over two years. At what point do I kick my butt into high gear.
I do not embrace the slow and steady school of thought in anything I do.
For today, I am sitting at my parent’s house. A laid back day today as my Mom is back home (whew). I just returned from taking five children to visit my brother at work. Shawn was born with Down’s Syndrome and absolutely loves to show off his nieces and nephews at his work place when they are in town. On the way back to Grandma’s house we stopped at a park for a half hour for the boys to play.
The emotional renewal when I am home is something that I could never explain. When I am here at home, I usually end up with at least one day spent on the couch. The world continues to spin at a speed that would make most people dizzy; and I am comforted.
My kids are in and out of the house, playing with cousins, fighting and complaining like best friends some times do. My nieces and nephews are playing and laughing and asking Auntie for a drink or to peel a banana. My young nephew yesterday was glued to my side and it was the most renewal I have felt in so long. I was exhausted…but my bucket was so very full.
Saturday I will leave my boys here and I will be gone, back to life, back to where life has led me.
Thank you for this renewing place and for what it does for me. For my siblings that also dump their kids at Grandma’s place so that the cousins can have this reprieve.
Give me the strength to return to Minnesota on Saturday and to begin the beyond cancer journey.
Guide me as I take the next steps and go back to work and become the financial provider I miss being for my kids. Let me continue to teach them through my example.