Returning to Normal
But not to where we were
Depending on when you start counting Eric’s cancer from (symptoms or diagnosis), the first 8–10 months of Bryn’s life were “normal”. She had two parents who loved her more than life itself and wanted to do the best job possible raising her.
But we were both stressed. Eric was working and traveling all the time. I was starting Winnie. We worried we were doing everything wrong as parents. Life felt impossibly hard.
If the last 4 months have given us anything, it’s time and perspective. Time with our daughter and perspective on what truly matters.
Eric is on medical leave from work for obvious reasons so he gets to see Bryn more than he ever has. Even though he feels ill most of the time as he finishes out chemotherapy, he never lets that show around Bryn. She loves her dad so much and in the mornings if I don’t stop her, she’ll run to his room and wait outside calling “dada” until someone lets her in. When he’s getting chemo and can’t hold her, she’ll curl up on the couch with him instead.
For me, cancer has given me the freedom to be an imperfect parent. It’s a gift that allows me to accept that I’m doing the best I can with the hand I’ve been dealt. With these reduced expectations for myself, I can genuinely enjoy parenting. Sometimes that means Bryn watches YouTube while I get dressed for work (mom, please don’t call child protective services) and once that meant I fed my kid ice cream for lunch but I don’t beat myself up about it. She’s alive and thriving and we’re spending more one-on-one time together than ever before.
Eric started his 6th and final chemo cycle on Monday. As he recovers, which will take months, life can slowly start returning to “normal”. I don’t know what normal is exactly though. It’s certainly not where we were before this journey started. It’s hopefully a place where we spend more time as a family, and less time stressed out about things that don’t really matter.
I used to dream about a future where I was rich and successful. These days, I dream about a future where Bryn, Eric and I can all go have a picnic in the park together.
It turns out all that really matters to me is my family being healthy, happy, and together. If we have that then I’ll feel like the richest person in the world.