Monday, March 1, 2010

Cancer is like a toddler: unpredictable and can drive you nuts...

But at least with a toddler, you love him at the end of the day. Our little artist has gifted us with quite a few fridge masterpieces this week! And listen, before you dismiss me as a good mother, I KNOW toddlers shouldn't be compared to cancer. It's just that this whole post Title responsibility is getting more difficult with our current family struggles.
From ELC
From ELC
I'm not sure if the forces that be think I can handle more (I can't) but the terrible twos are setting in. (It's like I'm down on the ground with seeping wounds, and then someone comes along and douses me with lemon juice.) We haven't hit the epic head banging, throwing rocks kinda tantrums, but Miles fusses like crazy. (And I cannot even believe I am writing it, but the child has biten his friend at school.) He hits this decible that most can probably tolerate, but as his mother, I am genetically programmed to start getting immediate heartburn, regurgitating impatiance and frustration. The worst is that he is a total faker--drama king. Much like a career in hair design or sanitation control I am betting Miles will adopt, I've told him actors don't make great livings. He hasn't bought it, yet.   Even though his language is still so primative, we are almost always sure of what he is trying to communicate. More than not it is one of two things: I want more carbohydrates or I want to watch a YouTube video. I keep patting ourselves on the back for not introducing television, but YouTube is getting just as bad. Thankfully Jason Mraz is now accompanied by India Arie, Feist and Jack Johnson.

The brilliant thing about toddlers is that they are more independent.
The not so brilliant thing about toddlers is that they think they are a lot more independent than they actually are.

Miles is at the wonderful stage where you can tell him to do something, he understands you, and will do it. Chores are still fun. He willingly throws trash away, recycles, washes his hands, cleans dishes, puts his Tilty cup in the fridge, does "prayer hands" at meals, burps the baby (or at least his Grover doll) brushes his teeth and puts his laundry in the hamper every night, and gives kisses to the whole family on demand.

Miles is at the awful stage where he's lost half of his play silverwear to recycling them when we are not looking, turns the water on and off incessantly while washing his hands and brushing teeth, demands you let him keep the water running while washing dishes--oh, and washes the floor at the same time, requests you open and close the fridge so he can put his Tilty in and out 100 times, puts his blocks or even the nail clipper in his hamper not to be discovered until after the load has been completed, and requires rounds and rounds of kisses and "family hugs" every night even after you've told him "ni-night". (Sometimes, there has to be a limit to kisses. We'd be smooching until midnight if not!)

And when you don't acquiesce? The decibel moan starts...and doesn't stop. Crocodile tears, going boneless...he's relentless.

The worst is that now he has decided he is big enough  NOT to hold Mommy's hand while in parking lots and it takes is 20 minutes to walk 200 feet to visit his Dah-Dee on the track every day. We even try the "Okay, Miles. Bye bye! See you later," hoping he'll run and follow us. And he's all, "Bye-Bye!" And off he goes.

We baked homemade chocolate chip cookies for the first time this weekend, and despite a floor dusted in flour and a few rogue chocolate chips that made it to his mouth (he has not had chocolate like that before), the cookies are AMAZING. And we gave him a bite of one, and now he is constantly signing "cookie!" and even knows where we hid them. He'll saunter off when we are not looking and pine for a "cookie" until we tell him "no" and then he dissolves until the decibel cry.

The most challenging part is when he looks you square in the eye as he is misbehaving. And he grins the whole time. He'll start putting his legs up on our coffee table, smiling at us as we firmly say "NO!" What's hard is Eric and I find ourselves laughing a lot of the time. It's hard not to encourage it--sometimes, it's just funny.

Unpredictable? Oh yes. Maybe it is because some of the kids at his childcare are potty training (oh, we are not even CLOSE to that. Let's wait a year or so. Miles could sit in his poop for days if we let him), but he has started putting his hands down the back of his diaper. And then it happened. Eric and I were watching Canada vs USA hockey on the DVR, and Miles was playing in the portable crib that will eventually be Felix's crib. We filled it with all the soft toys we could find, and covered it with a play mat to create a fort. He found an old pacifier and puts it in his mouth and just let it hang there. We turned to see that Miles was okay in his playland, and we see his head popping out, with the mat/cover resting on his head, the pacifier dangling from his mouth, and HIS DIAPER IN HIS HAND. And wouldn't you know that kid had a grin the size of the Pacific Ocean on his face. And you know what? Eric and I errupted in laughter. And that's when it started. This kid tries to take his diaper off all of the time now.

He's an exhibitionist, people. Loves his bare skin. We took off his shirt tonight b/c we (ahem, Eric) spilled his fish oil supplement on it and we needed to launder it quickly. Miles ran around the house singing some sort of Me-lez song, brushing his bare chest with his hands, enjoying the feel of being shirtless. It is moments like those that are burned in my memory.

The unfortunate part of the unpredictability is that the past 2 nights he has graced us with his presence at 2am. Correction--graced Eric. I'm already up with Felonious. I have no idea what his deal is, but he gets up and cries, and then Eric works to get him go back to sleep for at least an hour. Sleep regression? Perhaps he is feeling left out of our pajama party? I don't know, but we have worked SO hard to get this child to sleep from 7:15am until 6am, and I feel like we are at square one again.

With the intensity that I despise his tantrums and fussing, I love his silliness and idiosyncracies. That's why we don't all return them for a refund at one and a half to two years.

Finally, speaking to the whole cancer being unpredictable, I should rephrase and say it is the treatment. Eric's surgery was moved from the 17th to the 24th...until the scheduler called Friday afternoon and said we could be on stand-by for the 9th. Eric said no at first because it wasn't convenient for us in terms of getting care for the kids, his work requirements and track schedule. And then his tongue started hurting more over the weekend and we spent Friday night for the first time since his diagnosis talking about the whole little c and what it means in our life. I think Eric has been in denial--and his life has been so busy with activity, he hasn't had to think about it as much as I have. Remember, I spend my days as his Cancer Warrior (I wouldn't have it any other way), drowning in scheduling, researching, organizing, etc. It's overwhelming.

And then I told him cancer isn't convenient, and we agreed that we should gamble and go for the 9th. I left a message with the scheduler over the weekend, and she kindly called me Monday morning. So, we have a 50/50 chance of going on the 9th. It all depends on if there is a last minute emergency (e.g. transplant). The worst part is that we won't find out until after 1pm the day before. In all honesty, I am praying for it to happen on the 9th. I'm sick of waiting...sick of that thing on Eric's tongue bothering him. It's like a cancer, growing slowly and sucking the life out of him. Oh, wait. It IS cancer.

Pre-op will happen this Friday no matter what. And then, we wait and pray it happens on the 9th. And if it doesn't, we deal with that hurdle just like we have dealt with all the rest. Right now I am in the throes of making sure the boys have care for them in any situation. Oh yeah, and my maternity leave is just about up. I'm not quite sure how we'll get through March.

NOTE TO SELF: having two boys 19 months apart is a wild, outrageously crazy, fun, and bold adventure; but I don't recommend one of the parental units being diagnosed with cancer before your 2nd child even hits 2 months old. It can drive you nuts...


  1. You've described living with a toddler most aptly. They test, test, test. They're like little teenagers only cuter, thinking that they are more independent than they really are and all the while trying to find those boundaries. You learn to pick your battles and try to keep consistent. It is HARD to do, especially when you are tired or distracted (which they pick up on with unerring accuracy). They love to be naked and revel in the ability to strip down to nothing. It's only later that they become adept at and take pride in dressing themselves. Summer will be easier...Having to deal with a daddy with cancer certainly adds a level of stress that not many mommies and daddies have to endure. Hang in there! I hope and pray for better nights' sleeping for starters. I see in the pictures that Miles not only is Drama king but has an artistic temperament, too!

  2. Your two paragraphs that contrast the wonders/blunders of toddlerhood are brilliant.

    Fingers crossed for the 9th!!!!

  3. I agree with Mommy Dysher...Having teens, tweens, and a toddler I can definitely say that the teens and toddlers are neck and necd in the irritation/frustration department...but there's something about that elfish 12-tooth grin that just makes you laugh through the difficult times.

    I also just wanted to leave you with a huge cyber hug. my little one will be 18 months old in 2 weeks...and she STILL does not sleep through the night in her crib. I can now honestly say that I hate the mommies who casually throw around their super babies' ability to sleep through the night at 4 months and never have any regression whatsoever...they suck! You are not alone in that. But everyone sleeps through the night by kindergarten...don't they?

    You are being the best CW the world has ever known, I am sure of it. I'm praying with you for the 9th to go as planned and for Eric (and you) to be out of pain soon.

  4. Alison,

    You hit on many aspects of life w/ children in your blog. Many of them are memory-makers - the running around the house naked, the joy on their faces when they figure "something" out (taking off your own diaper), the fantastically enormous smiles. Then, there are the "what were we thinking having more than one child" moments - tantrums, disobedience, waking in the middle of the night.
    These are all, sorry to say it, normal kid things, the good and the bad...but throw the inconvenience of life in the mix and you have, what feels like, disaster. Parenting is unpredictable because human beings are unpredictable - no two are alike, even from the same gene pool.
    Cancer adds that added extra, what is the word I am looking for,...shittiness (I'll pay up later) to the mix of life.
    You need to take your deep breath, many deep breaths, and know that you are doing the best you will be good enough - even if it doesn't feel like it at the moment.

    Hoping for the 9th too, get this thing over w/!

    Much love!

  5. Oh, SIGH, can I hold your hand? I can feel the same for you as this unfolded for us last year. We didn't have toddlers, as you know, but there was the whole issue of being a parent of adult children who really did understand the seriousness of it all and worried that their dad was potentially going to die from this and it could happen in a few weeks considering what we were told at the diagnosis.

    Oh, sigh....

    hugs to you warriors!

  6. I hope it makes you feel better to know that Ella is doing A LOT of the same things--what's with the sudden naked/taking off the diaper obsession? And, she literally laughed at me when I told her not to hit the TV today. Just keep focusing on those moments when he melts your heart. I wish I could reach through the computer and give you a hug (and a hand), but it's not possible, so know that I at least wish I could. Good luck with getting the 9th!

  7. Hey -

    Loved the update, but sorry to hear life seems more and more out of control. I'm praying for the 9th - we'll be MIA, but thinking of you. Child care in March? Me me! Let us help because we can. Hope to see you/talk to you soon.