The past year have been monumental for our family. A few weeks after Mother’s Day of 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The same disease that my mother succumbed to at age 49. Our lives shifted drastically as I went through series of treatments that got me going to the hospital like it was a second house.
Now that we are celebrating Mother’s Day I can’t help myself from reflecting back on the past year and how battling breast cancer have affected the way I parent and the mother that I am now.
Here are my top 3 insights on motherhood after parenting through cancer:
1. I began learning about family cultures and how we defined ours in the face of my illness.
Family culture is not just how to set traditions and norms in the family but it also became our beacon on what we want to nurture. During my treatments, I learned to say “no” to those that will not serve my healing. That also meant the activities that my family took on were and are aligned with that guarding of my terrain. Our values shifted and our priorities veered to the direction of those that we value.
It might seem overrated but it took a life threatening illness for me to reflect on what I value as a mother and to put it in as part of our family culture. Here are my three lovingly-held values:
I value connection.
I value learning.
I value mindfulness.
These are the values that I put in as a person, a partner, a mother and our family culture reflects that. It can be seen from the things we explore as a family, the interactions I have with my children, the company that we surround ourselves with and the reflectiveness that we put in our daily lives.
(How about you what do you value and how does it affect your family culture?)
2. I learned three powerful words – “because I can”.
For a lot of people that I come across with, one common question that I get asked is “how do you do it?”. During these times I found it difficult to answer ” because I have to”. It somehow felt foreign to me and looking back now I realized that the resistance in answering that came from the language that I was using. How I communicated to myself changed as I started doing nonviolent communication training (compassionate communication). This helped me re-adjust my language of “I have to’s or I should’s” to a somewhat less pressured and yet equally definitive manner, ” I can”.
So for the following questions:
How do you do it?
How do you manage to be positive amidst the difficult circumstances?
How do you manage to be a present mother given your illness?
How do you manage to still be connected with friends or family given all that is happening to you?
my answer is “because I can”. I can choose what I focus on so it grows and I focused on being positive, being present and being connected. It doesn’t happen 24/7 but I also know “I can also let go and just be” and that I will be fine with it, even with the rotten moments. This includes accepting the times I cannot attend to my children because I have to attend to myself. This includes not being in all school activities when I was undergoing chemotherapy. This includes not packing their lunch or having their breakfast ready because I was too weak to get out of bed. This includes a lot of times where before I would have placed so much judgment on myself for not being the mother that “I have to be”. What a relief it was to drop that!
3. I learned to find my tribe.
Just like how I found my blogging tribe with this wonderful Multicultural Kid Blogs community, I also found my “motherhood tribe”.
Being a parent outside of one’s country of origin is hard. But parenting in a foreign country with an illness was even more challenging. I had to learn to navigate through hospital visits while at the same time making sure that our children were taken cared of. I had to rely on my tribe to assist us on those days that I couldn’t even muster drinking water because of the nausea. I had to rely on my tribe to make sure the kids get to school on time and get picked up while I stay in the sanctuary of our home. I had to rely on my tribe to pick me up from when it was taking me days to shake the loneliness out of me.
I am so grateful that I found my motherhood tribe and know that even though things get difficult, I can rely on them for support. For I cannot do it alone, nor would I want it to be.
Latest posts by Lana Jelenjev (see all)
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- My Top 3 Insights on Motherhood After Parenting Through Cancer - May 1, 2015