Sunday, March 2, 2014

I have a confession

Up until a few months ago, I’ve had mixed feelings toward pregnancy and babies. It’s almost impossible not to think about when your Instagram and FB feeds are chock full of photos, and there have been times when I’ve unfollowed friends because they’ve just gotten way out of control. Note: delivery photos from the neck up are one thing, but does the world really need to see video footage of what’s going on in there? AH NO. Not to mention my thoughts on the lack of discipline running rampant in today’s society and many mothers’ cavalier and entitled attitude toward their snotty little shits (cut to me eyeballing a kid in church and doing the finger across the throat motion). But then I met a close friend’s baby and while she divulged the horrors of childbirth and everything that leaks and comes flying out, etc., I held her little daughter in my arms and I felt the same warm feeling I usually get when I know I’m going to happy hour. Yes, she was sleeping and not pooping or screaming her lungs out but just holding this little bundle of perfection moved me on the inside. I chalked it up to a moment of weakness and went about my business…until I had to buy a gift for a dear friend’s baby shower. My second only baby shower. Is that weird? Because when I told people that, they looked at me like I had a third eye. I’ve also never been a bridesmaid, but I don’t really have any regrets about that because instead of fulfilling obligations I had the freedom to make out with hot bartenders in freezer units. I digress. I pride myself in getting awesome, thoughtful gifts so I knew I didn’t want to look at the registry. Instead I opted for skull and bones diapers from the Honest Company (which is Jessica Alba’s organic line), a pack of Golden Books (hello, old school) and my favorite, a onesie with the Chicago flag on it (for a boy). Wrapping the gifts up was one thing, but walking into the restaurant where the shower was held was another. I don’t know if I was prepared to feel a certain way or not, but when I walked in I saw my girl smiling and I was filled with happiness for her. While the other women drank tea and soda I ordered up a mimosa, but I didn’t even feel uncomfortable being likely the only single woman in the room. Instead I focused on my friend and posed with her for photos, played games and watched her open gifts. She looked so beautiful and sweet, and I know she’ll make a great mom. Of course it’s not just these two events that have had me thinking about life and motherhood in general. Obviously life can change in an instant and with my mom being sick, there have been thoughts like “well what if she’s not around?” But I try not to focus on those so much as I do on thoughts of her enjoying being a grandmother. Because yes, I admit, despite how vile some of the things you have to do for them or what you have to give up, having a little chitlin is definitely on my to-do list. Of course, there are still plenty of happy hours to attend, but I can honestly say I can’t wait until I meet the little mini-me. Or me's. After all, who else is going to live out my dream of being a professional dancer and clean my house for me?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


The few months have flown by. I commend people who are going through something personal and writing about it often. It appears that I just got swept under a huge wave and let it carry me. I have struggled greatly going through my mom's cancer and being her part-time caretaker. I've felt the whole gamut of human emotion; fear, sadness, loneliness, denial, guilt for not living closer to her...it's still surreal to think this is our life. She finished both radiation and chemo, so now it's one day at a time until her next PET scan. Sometimes it seems like new side effects keep popping up and we wonder out loud why none of the doctors told us about them. There are good moments too; she got her chemo port out, her hair is growing back, she is able to drive. My mom is stronger than she gives herself credit for. She braved an extremely intense treatment plan and managed to get through it without little to no side effects at first (sadly, they all came on at once when it was over). When she wants to, she can find the energy to cook, clean, walk around the house, do crossword puzzles like she's always enjoyed. When she doesn't, she wonders if she will ever be the same again. My first instinct is to always say "you will be better," but no one can predict that. It's challenging finding the balance between consoling her and urging her to live life to the fullest. The disease has changed her. It has changed all of us. What it hasn't changed is our tight, small unit and the love we have for each other. It is insurmountable.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Children Gone Wild

It's been two months since my last post and surprisingly enough, I really don't feel like writing about my mom's cancer. So I'm going to write about something else that affects me on nearly a day to day basis; spoiled children and oblivious mothers. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but it seems a few years ago I noticed children becoming more and more bratty. Instead of seeing a temper tantrum in a grocery store once in a while, I'd start to see them closer to once a week. I'm talking professional temper tantrums; the kind where you lay on the floor flailing your arms and legs and wailing at the top of your lungs. Then, on the street! Mothers would push their double-wide strollers and more rugrats would pop up out of nowhere running around me screaming. I would grin through my teeth and politely excuse myself to get out of the vortrex of hell, but slowly felt a sense of disdain growing in these type of situations. Not only were these kids completely of out control, their mothers were turning a blind eye, yakking it up with probably another mommy friend. And then, the kicker: church. Running up and down the aisles like banshees. Eating full meals. I'm sorry, what? I'm hungry too, shit, but am I going to unwrap a turkey sandwich and crack open a can of Coke? NO. Oh, but wait, little Susie decided she wants to talk to daddy about..well, who knows what because it's baby jibberish coming out in full force while I'm trying to say the Our Father. You know, THE LORD'S PRAYER? And would you take a look at that, another one has busted loose and is playing, yes PLAYING in the holy water. Meanwhile, his mother is standing behind him with no action at all. I implore you, mothers...what happened to the days of the dirty look that indicated "if you make another sound you are going to get it?" Or better yet, let me take you OUTSIDE if you don't shut up and give you a proper disciplinary lesson? The one and only time I threw a temper tantrum was when I was six years old, at Pick 'N Save, begging for candy my dad wouldn't buy me. Do you know what he did? He drove me to the local trailer park and told me if I ever did that again he would leave me with the 'gypsies.' Was it a little extreme and terrifying? YES. Did I ever throw a temper tantrum again? Ahh, no. It seems that the majority of the mothers I come in contact with feel a sense of entitlement that I don't fully understand. If you're pregnant, of course I'm going to give up my seat for you. If you come on the train with a stroller and expect one of your 5 kids to sit down, well, why should they? I'm their elder. So you gave birth. Sounds horribly painful. You get my props. You also get props for clothing them instead of buying new shoes for yourself. Mmm, probably not drinking too. And shelling out the cash to put them through school. But nowhere on God's green earth does it say that just because you have one do you a. get to skip to the front of the line and b. allow them to get away with everything. Remember, these are the people who are going to be running our country later. Do you really want them to turn out like the pricks in Congress?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Side effects

You always hear about hard chemo and radiation can be on the body, but you can't really grasp the intensity until it becomes personal. Just like cancer, really. My mom's doctors armed her with books, binders, pamphlets and long discussions about what to expect when the time for side effects came, but I don't think any of us were ready for how bad they were going to be. Especially because it took a good three full weeks before it happened. But when it did, (and I was there), it was heartbreaking to watch. Yes, the doctors told her she would lose her hair in the back of her head where she's getting radiation. I guess you can never really prepare yourself for a jarring sight like her touching that area and holding clumps of hair in her hand. They told us she would lose her taste. What we weren't prepared for was her gagging every time she takes a bite of food, running around like crazy trying to find something, anything, so she can get nutrients in her body. That's aside from her sore throat, mouth sores, burning skin, and of course, fatigue. No matter how much she sleeps, it always stays with her. She was supposed to have her second chemo session this past Monday, but it turned out that her white blood cell count was too low and her risk for infection too great so they had to reschedule it. That postpones her third session by another week, pushing out her entire treatment and giving her even more to worry about. But we push on, knowing we've reached the halfway point and praying she gets through it. So at the very, very least, she can know what fucking fried chicken tastes like again.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

On the fence

So I'm back at my parents place again getting ready for my mom's second chemo. Not a whole lot to write about at the moment, however I did want to share a wonderful image I captured. It's my father spraying down the fence. He's obsessed with everything that has to do with the house, and this is just another example. He actually rented this machine, and to avoid getting wet 'built' himself a suit of armor. No, your eyes are not deceiving you...this suit of armor is in fact a garbage bag. What's even better? He wrapped a baseball hat with a grocery bag to 'protect' his head.
Just a day in the life of an unsung hero.

Monday, July 15, 2013

In the thick of it

I never thought I would see the day I'd be taking my own mother to the hospital for cancer treatment. Her first one was exactly a week ago, and we spent over 11 hours there. When we arrived at the radiation area, sadly, ironically, my mom ran into a woman she knew. She has brain cancer, has had surgery, and getting both chemo and radiation. She was wearing a hat and when she took it off, the top half of her hair was gone and a huge scar ran from one side of her head to the other. Just another example of how common this horrendous disease has become. My dad and I stood beside my mom as nurses fastened a mesh mask to her face and slid her into a tube where she would be getting radiation. We watched from outside the room as she lay there, still, for 9 excruciatingly long minutes as the beams bombarded her cancer. From there we went to the cafe, ate, and proceeded on to get my mom's blood drawn. As we sat in the waiting area, I took note of how busy it was. Old people, young people. Some in wheelchairs, some walking on their own. Some bald, some with full heads of hair. One gentleman's face was disfigured and he had a stoma and voice valve. Everyone was chatting and laughing. A woman in a wheelchair and wearing a wig complimented my sandals. A man joked around about needing more of the "good stuff." A mother and daughter sat next to each other reading books. A weird scene, really, but somewhat "normal." And there sat my mom, among them. After another hour or so, the nurses directed us to the 3rd floor. The floor my mom was dreading. The floor where she would be getting chemo. We sat around and her best friend who's an oncologist came to join us, bringing gossip mags and sandwiches. My mom took a break to go to the bathroom and soon after she left her name was called. When she came back, the four of us walked in. A small army. Soon after she was seated in her own room and a flurry of activity began; introductions to nurses, what would be happening, what the time-frame was. I wrapped her in a prayer shawl my friend's mom had made for her and they began flushing out her system to prepare her body for the chemo. A nutritionist came in and had my mom list off all the things she does and doesn't eat. She's a good little patient; the only thing she really doesn't like is ice cream. Then they pumped her full of anti-nausea meds and finally the nurse came in with a large bag of chemo. Seeing her face as she wept and wanted to run away was one of the hardest things I've ever had to experience, but I squeezed her hand and assured her it wasn't poison; it was the medication needed to save her life. So she sat there, for hours and hours on end, while it ran it's course. We got her to laugh through her tears, and in those moments I realized just how much I love my mother...and how brave she is.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I’ve had my blog since 2011 and while I haven’t realized the dream of publishing my writing yet, I know I’ve reached many people and at the very least, made them laugh. It’s what I pride myself on doing. There is nothing better than to see another person’s eyes crinkling, tears streaming down their cheeks or hands clutching their stomach because they’re doubled over at something you’ve said. Comedic relief has been my savior in most of life’s trying moments…and so has writing. Because I’ve made such an effort to keep the blog lighthearted, I’ve been torn about whether or not to share my feelings about the reality of what my family and I are going through. While I have a tremendous support system, there are words and thoughts inside of me that can only be best expressed this way. The truth is: life isn’t always funny. There are times when it’s fucking hell, like when your mom’s doctor’s visit turns into a biopsy that turns into a phone call at work that turns into “I have cancer.” Since the diagnosis, the emotions have run rampant. Healthy distraction here, unhealthy distraction there. Prayer, no prayer. Sleep, no sleep. Move home, stay in Chicago. Cry, don’t cry. Tread lightly, be stern. Avoid the topic, be frank about it. Date, don’t date. Worry, don’t worry. Feel guilty and regretful, feel thankful and optimistic. Write…don’t write. Turns out, the latter was never really an option. I need it to summon the strength to help my mom. With that said, I’m going to document our experience. I don’t want to create a new blog solely to write about her illness because while it is horrible and scary, there is so much more beyond that: laughter. And love. Lots and lots of love.