Saturday, November 11, 2017

Mommy Guilt

Today was really hard. Grace vomited several times and was put on constant morphine as her pain is becoming more apparent. Because of that I feel more helpless. That has only intensified my feelings of being out of control with my son Luke too. It's strange because I feel as helpless about Luke as I do about Grace's cancer.

I think the pain built up this week when he won a citizenship award at school and somehow we didn't find out in time for one of us to be there. Then he went on a field trip the day after Grace's BMT and I wasn't able to come. Because he's six, I only get bits and pieces of his day on the phone at night, but it's nothing near to connecting. And it's really been hurting me today.

Luke was two years old when Grace was first diagnosed and four by the time she finished treatment. He had extreme separation anxiety after. He panicked if he lost sight of me at home. He cried outside the bathroom door. The book "Hand, Hand, Finger, Thumb" stressed him because the adult isn't shown in every page and Luke was worried about who would care for the little monkey. It took a long time before he felt safe again.

When Grace relapsed we spent five weeks inpatient. When we got home he was always saying how happy he was that we were together as a family again, constantly covering me with kisses and holding my hand. And two months later we had to come back with no real estimate as to when we can come home. Twenty-eight days is the estimate if there are no complications and BMT is rarely without complications. Chad and Luke have both been sick so I haven't been home in two weeks. Chad told me that in the mornings Luke goes into Grace's room to see if she's back. He's a pretty sensitive little kid.

Obviously Chad and his Grandmas are a huge support, but I'm his mommy. And it breaks my mommy heart that I can't be there to comfort him.

Thankfully I have other cancer mamas here to talk to about it and I plan to talk to the CHLA psychiatrist about it this week. I've also been digging out of my memory what I learned last time, because I had severe mommy guilt last time too.

One thing that I have to remember is what I learned about oaths. Chad and I learned this a while back. Oaths are how we try to control our lives when we feel powerless. "Even if I have to tear mountains down with my own hands, I'll do anything to protect my kids, I won't let anything ever hurt them." The sentiment of this promise, as I held Grace in my arms as a newborn, was true and good. But when I can't take care of both Luke and Grace at the same time, I violate this oath. In my mind it was the truest-truth but in reality I swore myself to a standard I can never keep. I am not God. I can't stop all things from hurting my children. And if I don't admit to my own powerlessness, and if I try to keep my oath to the extent that I originally meant it, I will break my heart and possibly my mind. Because it wasn't the oath of a mother I made. I made an oath only God could keep, and I am not God.

I'm meant to love my children, nurture them, protect and provide for them, but in the end I can not be God to them. I can't keep their hearts from breaking, I can't shield them from all dangers and all disappointments. I can't heal all their pain or comfort all their sorrows. Still this hurts me as I'm not able to be the mommy that I want to be. I have to accept my limitations and know that God must be God to them and that he loves them even more than I do.

The other thing I need to do is accept that God has placed other people in Luke's life to love on him. I am angry and disappointed that I can't be involved in his life the way I'd like to. But I need to accept that Luke can be loved as much by my husband and Luke's grandmas, and friends and family too. I'm hurt that I can be replaced. I feel stripped of part of my mommyness. But I am thankful for Chad and family, and I need to support them more. They're an incredibly important part of Luke's life.

Also I think it scares me that one day Luke might not be able to forgive me. That somehow he won't be able to understand why I had to leave him for so much of his childhood to be with his sister. Even if he can accept it in his mind it's not the same as making sense in the heart. I fear that it'll cause a rift of jealousy between him and Grace. It can be hard for children to understand such grownup justifications. The thing I have to remember is that my parents didn't always get things right, but I did know they loved me. Even if I were able to give Luke all  my attention and love right now, it still wouldn't be without mistakes. I have to trust that loving him as best I can, letting others love him, and most of all by leading him to God's unconditional love...that he will grow up to be secure in his ability to love and be loved.

It also helps as I remember (my variation of) Celebrate Recovery:

Step One: We admitted we were powerless ...that our lives had become unmanageable...
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18 

Step Two: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us...
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13

And finally...I just need sleep. I'm exhausted and it hasn't helped my emotions or mind as I struggle to understand and accept how life is right now. So with that...good night.

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