I’ve been wrestling a lot with whether and how to share this memory. For some reason it’s been a moment that I’ve wanted to put out there for quite awhile – but it feels dark and off brand and almost self indulgent to share.
In a way it feels like one of the defining moments of my life – as a mother, and perhaps in general.
I’ve talked about these few horrifying days of my life before. But for purposes of this post you only need to know that from May 2013 to February 2014, my father spent 10 months in a horrific fight against acute myeloid leukemia that included 5 rounds of chemo, a descent into mental anarchy, and, in the end, an intubated existence that needed at last to end.
On my 36th birthday, his oncologist told us that we had shifted from prolonging his life to prolonging his death. The words were a kindness. A confession of their failure to fix him. A permission to let him go.
We would do just that the next day. The terminal extubation was long and horrible and perhaps the kindest thing we did for him in that long nightmare of a year.
But I’ve told this story before and I’m not here to tell it again. I’m here to discuss another moment in that day.
Because these things don’t happen in a vacuum. These things don’t happen in the absence of other responsibilities. There are still jobs. And homes. And chores. And pets. And children.
No matter how all consuming your circumstances, the needs of your three-year-old don’t go away. And so, as I was mentally and emotionally wrapping my mind around the fact of my father’s impending extubation, my three-year-old still existed with all of his three-year-old needs.
That morning, I was getting them ready for school and to be picked up after by a family member while we went through the process of letting my dad go. I was a mess behind the mask of a calm mother getting her kid ready for preschool. I woke him. I washed him up. I dressed him.
And then I went to put on his shoes. And he didn’t want to wear them. And I fought to get them on his feet while he screamed and yelled and tantrumed and I tried to keep a level head and not scream at the top of my lungs “HOW DARE YOU DO THIS TO ME RIGHT NOW????”
And I wished in my darkest heart that one day, when he was grown enough to understand, he would know what he had done that morning. That he had screamed bloody murder and made me wrestle him into his shoes while I was mentally preparing to go to the hospital and remove life support from my dad.
I don’t know precisely why this is so important for me to share. I think I want you to know how human I am. I think I want you to couch the stories I’ve told so many times before in reality. I think I want you to give yourself permission to experience life in the context of reality. I think I want you to know that if you are a mother – or a father – too, that you are allowed to be imperfect and to have moments where no matter how calm you are on the surface that your insides can be screaming for something better. Something that for once prioritizes something else over your kids.
And I just wanted to write it down. Because it’s this tiny moment of my life that has gotten so much bigger in my mind over the years. And I know in my heart that we all have them.
Happy Mother’s Day. I love you all in all of your imperfect, real life, in the trenches moments.
Thank you all for allowing me the gift of a Disney blog that also addresses real life – even in its darkest moments. Perhaps we are all attracted to the light and magic of that place because sometimes life just needs a dose of light and magic.
Happy Mother’s Day.