I don't want to be a mom today.
My heart and door have been open to all three of my babies since they emerged. Always tending, listening, watching. In sickness and in health. They need me. And I need their need. It gives me purpose, validation. It helps me make sense of why I left my brain and ambition on the delivery table; I traded them for a life to nurture. But not today.
Today I am sick. My brain pounds inside my hairless head. Lights are too bright, sounds are too loud, hugs are too hard. I know it will pass, but with each round of chemo the effects get worse and last longer. And on the days where my spirits and energy are at their lowest, I don't even want to be what I was born to be, a mom. Like today.
My babies aren't really babies anymore, but my heart doesn't know that. My husband, George, has it covered. He can handle them and their wants, but never all of their needs -- at least, not the way I can.
I stay in bed almost all day, my biggest venture shuffling to the bathroom and back after particularly grueling bouts of nausea and diarrhea. Sometimes I'll run a bath, but the temperature has to be just right, otherwise it feels scalding against my raw, sensitive skin.
I lay on my side, arm outstretched, remote in hand, watching television. I catch up on housewives, fashion designers and talk shows. These shows are good because if I doze off and wake up in the middle of an episode, I don't need to think too hard to catch up. Even thinking hurts today.
I begin looking at the clock at 3. George will be picking up the kids from school soon, and their energy and noise will flood our home and overwhelm my fragile senses. In a blink, a half hour has passed and I know they will arrive at any moment. And they will want to see me, need to see me. But I don't want to be a mom. Not today.
The front door opens and slams shut, then I hear four sets of feet as they tromp across the hardwood of the first floor. Voices pierce through the layers of sheetrock and plaster that separate us as the kids are reminded by George that, no, the middle of the living room floor is not the place for their backpacks and shoes, and why they need to be so loud, don't they know their mother is resting?
I hear the muffled thumps as my children make their best attempt at peaceful footsteps up the stairs, and I know they will soon be at the door. I watch the knob to my bedroom slowly begin to turn, and I stay on my side and close my eyes, pretending to be asleep.
Liam, my sensitive, tender-hearted child, tiptoes across the room until he arrives at the side of my bed. Gently he leans over me until I can feel the warm, moist breath from his nose on my cheek. He is looking at my eyes to see if I am awake. He wants love and attention. He wants security and safety. He wants reassurance and affection. He wants me to be the mom he has known for all of his life. But I can't be that mom, not today.