I’m a bundle full of fun. My list of fun things include being diagnosed with cancer at age 33, having the BRAC1 gene mutation, doing six months of oral chemo, having a hysterectomy at 34, my ovaries and tubes out at 34, enduring a double mastectomy, and a million scans and procedures under my belt, followed by five months of oral chemo.
I was a stay-at-home mom during this time with a 7, 5, and 2-year-old. Sometimes I feel like I experienced a whole lifetime in one short snapshot of a year.
At the beginning of my diagnosis, our mailbox broke and had been hanging on by one hinge. My husband was so involved with the kids, household stuff, and being “mom” that he wasn’t able to fix the broken mailbox door. He joked that it was a metaphor for our life.
We’re just barely getting by, holding on.
Yesterday, a neighbor or someone fixed it for us—we have no idea who. It felt like a sign of where I am. I’m healing, being fixed, and moving on to what I’m supposed to do.
Isn’t that the truth for motherhood, for the working moms, the stay-at-home moms, the moms battling a serious illness, moms faced with anxiety and depression? We are just barely hanging on sometimes. Most of the time cancer is at the center of all my hard times, but survivorship and motherhood are also part of the hard times.
As moms, we are constantly being pulled in every direction. We are constantly feeling like we are just hanging on by a hinge. Those moments can feel defeating. And like the broken mailbox that gets pushed aside, so do our needs for self-care and grace.
There have been times when we were barely holding on as a family.
One especially hard time was when one of our kiddos was having trouble regulating his body due to ADHD and medications not working. The daily emails, battles at home before and after school, and the tone it set for our whole house were overwhelming. At this time, I was in the midst of recovering from a year of chemo and surgeries, and I felt defeated. My door wasn’t hanging on, it had fallen completely off.
Tired and defeated, I decided that I needed to take charge.
I needed self-care and grace for myself and also my child. We scheduled the doctor appointments, I talked to my friends, the teacher helped us navigate, and we reached out to those who lifted us up not those who judged us. We reached out. As mothers, we are not meant to do life alone. We have been given a village, and it’s OK to reach out to them.
It’s in these moments of hard times—when fixing a mailbox seems monumental—that we need to reach out.
One thing we’ve found through being diagnosed is that it’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to be vulnerable with your feelings, fears, and needs. Many times others don’t know what battles we are facing.
We all have times when we need a stranger or friend to fix our mailbox that is barely hanging on to its foundation. Reach out if you are struggling. You never know who may have wisdom from past experiences or who may be going through the same battle as you.