I was in Junior High and I remember waiting for my Mom to get home from a doctor appointment. I don't remember being worried about her appointment. I mean, she was my Mom. She was the pillar of strength for our whole family. It was dark when she pulled in the driveway and put the car in the garage. No one else was home and I walked through the dark family room to unlock the back door for my Mom. When she walked in she stopped and looked at me. I asked if she was ok and she said, "I have a tumor." And then she started to cry. I wrapped my arms around her and held her as she cried. In that instant something changed in our relationship. I realized that the woman who was always there for me, the woman who went to every appointment with me and seemed so unflappable was human--just like me. She had weaknesses and fears and needed my support just as much as I needed hers.
My mom and I have always been close but I truly do think her health crisis that year was key in shifting our relationship. We weren't sure if the cancer she had fought 10 years before was back, and we were so thankful to learn her tumor was benign. But post-op complications meant a long recovery and my Dad would pick me up from school and drive me to the hospital where I would sit by her side, do my homework and drink apple juice until I couldn't stand the flavor anymore. I just knew that I went from the childlike idea of Mom being there every time I needed her to the idea that I was so blessed to have her in my life in whatever capacity she could be there.
I think that's why it is so strange to me that I don't want my kids to have the experience of having a sick Mom. So often I grieve over the normalcy that they miss in their lives. They were 10 months and almost 5 when my aorta dissected and their experience has always been the experience of having a mom with serious health issues. They've both had to deal with a mom who was more fragile, who couldn't do everything other moms can do. I never felt cheated by having a mom with health issues but over and over I've felt like my own kids got ripped off somehow.
My daughter easily slips into the role of caregiver and so I push against that and push her to go out and live her own life. But since she's 20 I do lean on her more and confide in her. She's always been one to call me on my moods and can sense when something isn't right. I don't try as hard to be strong for her. But my baby boy is a different story. This man-boy was the kid that I couldn't do the pretend cry with. It did him in. If my daughter wouldn't share I could pretend to cry and she would giggle over how silly I was. If I did that to my son he would cry too. He couldn't stand to see me upset. So I carry that. I try to put on the brave face for him. "Here's what the doctor has said, and it's going to be ok." But he sees the stress and yet I won't let him break out of the sensitive little boy mold that I've locked him into.
Today was different. I was frustrated after a call from the doctor's office. The procedure that's supposed to be the first step in hopefully fixing my CSF leak needs to be scheduled. The urgency I feel doesn't seem to match the doctors' and so I was told that we're going to get this scheduled and that the doctor who will do the procedure is really booked up so it might not be right away and she'll work on it and call me tomorrow. I've had a steady headache, dizziness, back pain, fatigue, etc since July now. But it's really been happening intermittently for the past 5 years. It's obviously not killing me but I'm weary. So I hung up the phone, sat down to trim beans for dinner and silently started to cry. And that's when the shift happened. My man-boy came over and wrapped an arm around my shoulder. He asked me to talk to him and as I poured out my frustration in the middle of my sobs he held on to me and reminded me, "Mom, God's got this." He asked me what he could do to help me, and as I leaned my cheek against his big, hairy, man-arms I said "you're doing it." It's that shift like I had with my mom happening all over again. Maybe it's a shift that's hardest with your baby. He's not a little boy anymore. He doesn't need to be protected and sheltered anymore. It's ok for him to see that I have weaknesses and fears and that I really need his support just like he needs mine.
My son is right. God does have this. Every delay in my treatment can be used for great things. God taught me something so valuable today that I wouldn't have learned without the delay. My son is growing into a man who is strong and dependable. He doesn't need me like he did even 5 years ago. But what a beautiful thing to start to transition to the relationship that we'll have for the rest of our lives. Thanks for my son God, and thanks for the lesson.