Life is a Joke

I always try to approach things with a sense of humor. Try. Sometimes that’s just not possible. When we were in Paris, there was a store close to our hotel that had t-shirts of famous people. They had their finger painted with a fake mustache held in front of their nose. Under the picture, it says “Life is a Joke”. At first I thought, “that’s a little offensive and why is that in English?”. But as I pondered further, I thought that’s not such a terrible way to approach everyday life. Ya know, keep it light. Obviously, life can be quite serious. My present predicament is no exclusion. But come on, if I can’t laugh then all I’d do is cry. Who wants to be around a total drag? No one likes a Debbie Downer.
It was kind of fitting that the French were selling a shirt with this saying. Apparently the French attitude towards cancer is similar to everything else. (“pfft”, shrug, drag from cig). Do they not have a Surgeon General over there? My husband asked me one day, “at what age is it acceptable to start smoking? At 12, you get smacked, but your parents might bum a cig from you at age 13?”. It seems laissez-faire lives on in France. Or perhaps they just don’t take life as seriously as they do their cheese and wine?

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Investments

My father has told me that children are like little investments. You put in time, effort, knowledge, values, and let’s face it, a buttload of cash into them and then watch them grow as you wish the stock market would. Of course the cash advances on these little investments might not yield monetary dividends, but something else entirely. Isn’t it like everything that is worth doing in life? You have to work at what is most rewarding: marriage, parenting, your career, friendships, etc.
I’m considering my double mastectomy to be an investment in my future. It’s definitely going to be hard work, but the outcome will yield great results. Think of my life expectancy as a stock chart. At this moment, it may look like a mountain with one side a gradual incline and the next a rapid decline at a point far too close to the present. But post-op, I’m banking on a very rich and much longer incline; a long term investment.

Paris

La lune de booby. Translation: Boobymoon.
As a fifth anniversary surprise, my husband shocked me with a trip to my favorite city ever. We left Thursday evening and returned last night, Monday. A quick and perfect trip. My parents and my mother-in-law watched the girls together. And my brother, sister-in-law and nieces stopped by to entertain them as well. It sounded like our little ones had an awesome, fun-filled weekend too.
I’d love to go into detail about everything we saw and ate, the architecture and charm of the buildings and city streets, the smells and sounds that are so alluring. This is not the place. My appreciation and love for the foreign city pales in comparison to those emotions I feel for my husband.
I’m sure Paris wouldn’t be his first choice for an decadent, luxurious long weekend getaway, but he knows it’s mine. Vacation planning is not his passion or forte and neither of us like to fly. However, he executed this trip perfectly to make me happy. He was thrilled to just walk around the city with me, letting me play guide and visiting all of my favorite spots. He even spent 8 hours of his birthday on the flight home.
Our vows said “in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad”. These were definitely the healthy, good times that precede the sickly, bad ones to come. The memories from this trip will get me through the rough voyage we face ahead. I once wrote about painting the walls of mind with an image of Monet’s water lilies. I have a fresh new version in my head now. The backdrop that will help me remain calm. And certainly, the best part of this vacation was spending time just being us. Without the everyday mundane insanity of life, we got to hang out, joke around and enjoy each other. The other beautiful part was knowing that the girls were totally fine in our absence. They were happy, they were well taken care of, they were with family. Our parents are so giving and selfless. So much of my fear of the little ones’ well-being after my surgery has been alleviated.
The trip was short, but sweet. Long enough to give us a break, short enough to get us home before anyone got homesick. Plenty of time to remember that even though I have to go downstairs to get him after he falls asleep on the couch… a lot, my husband is the absolute best!!

Separation Anxiety

I just saw the movie I Don’t Know How She Does It with SJP. It was ok. Though something she said really resonated with me: “they say kids can get over their separation anxiety by age 2. They don’t say anything about the mothers”. Boy is that true!
One of my biggest worries about my surgery is leaving the girls for a few days. It’s a little ridiculous since they are very happy to play with their grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles. And my husband will be available for them; they love Daddy time!
I have to remember to keep my issues as my issues and not project onto them. I don’t want them to feel like I did when I went to camp or college. That homesick feeling I still get if it’s triggered; almost like an old, but oddly familiar scent. I want them to spread their wings when they are ready. Now I’ve just got to work on not helicopter parenting so they can actually fly.

Listening Ears

We have a major problem with listening around here. I probably repeat the same thing over and over a hundred times a day. I’m surprised my little big girl doesn’t think her name is, “1,2,3”. Those magic numbers are her cue to pay attention. I wish I had an equivalent for her clone, my husband. Their ability to tune me out is uncannily similar.
I can’t ignore my own prowess when it comes to selective hearing. When he starts talking about anything to do with finance, politics or baseball, I get that deer in the headlights expression. It’s no coincidence that my nieces’ nickname for me is LaLa. My parents said I was in LaLa Land for most of my childhood. I heard a lot of “what color is the sky on your planet?” or “hey space cadet, back to Earth” from my siblings.
So while I get frustrated at my offspring for a genetic trait that I blame on my husband, maybe I have to reexamine my own dysfunction. During my appointments with doctors throughout this Boobacious Journey I have made a concerted effort to write everything down. I have absolutely no recall for aural learning. I am visual and have a photographic memory. If I hear it, it’s bound to be back in the ether of my home planet (the sky alternates between pink and orange like sunset and turquoise, depending on my mood). But if I write something down, it will be stored for a long time. Good thing I recorded my schedule for ovarian health, I’m due for my biannual ultrasound. Joy.

Medieval Torture

Being a woman isn’t easy, but I do think we are the superior sex (sorry boys, but you’d have to agree). We have many advantages that men are lacking. Our ability to express a range of emotions is outstanding. We can go from calm to crazy in the blink of an eye while still feeling sad, happy, fierce and powerful at exactly the same moment. Men are generally more compartmentalized. However, we can also think with only our brain, if necessary. Men think on behalf of something else entirely. But our greatest gift is our femininity; that which provides life, comforts our children, and launches a thousand ships.
It can take a great deal of work to maintain our feminine wiles. Yesterday alone I had a facial, two forms of hair removal removal, and bought some makeup to paint color onto my pale palette. It’s not that we do all of this just for the attraction of the desired sex, but also so we can look in the mirror and get a boost or, at the very least, not have to grimace back at our reflection.
The extraction of oil from my skin, the hot wax dripped and then ripped off of me and the scissors cutting through my locks sounds like a series of medieval torture devices. The tissue expanders I will have slowly filled post surgery is just another thing to add to this painful regimen. Fortunately, it will be relatively short lived. While I may feel like a science experiment soon, for now I feel more like a 1981 Chevy Corvette. Not the newest or hottest car on the road, but I’m buffed, waxed, painted and almost ready to take on the windy road ahead with some power and a little bit of trash talk.

Exhaustion

I preface this post by saying I’m not in search of sympathy. That’s never been the intent of anything I write here. Any mother reading this knows that the following just comes with the territory. Now that that disclaimer is out of the way…
I’m so tired. Every time I say that I’m imagining Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles with her chorus boys singing, “Can’t you see she’s pooped?”. I’m really starting to believe that celebrity bullshit about being hospitalized, missing appearances or bailing on live performances due to exhaustion. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I think they’re just in rehab. But I can see how one might need to be otherwise institutionalized from fatigue.
With my little doll almost walking and my big beauty challenging me in every way (as a three year old should), I’m both mentally and physically spent. That coupled with the fact that neither child is sleeping through the night, leaves me feeling less than refreshed. Ever since her surgery, the big girl has been waking with night terrors. With a good night’s sleep, you get a page refresh (to put it in geek terms). Reload everything anew and reboot the brain. Perhaps this is why I feel so dumb and lazy lately. Could it be why I actually asked my husband if 2012 is an election year? Wow!
I’m not really helping myself though. I have a vitamin B12 deficiency that was diagnosed before I had kids. It’s no big deal, I am just supposed to give myself an injection every three weeks to make up for it. I forget to do it. Instead, I just complain to my husband and my mother about being exhausted.
I’m wondering how that will change after I have surgery. I don’t know if all of the prescribed rest will have a rejuvenating effect on me, an unnerving effect or leave me feeling more exhausted. Maybe it will be a mix of all of them. Is it horrible that I’m almost looking forward to having a doctor’s order that says I’m not supposed to get up in the middle of the night and tend to crying children? I feel guilty for admitting that, but it’s the truth. I doubt it will stop me from trying to comfort them. A break is coming soon, hopefully it’s not a breakdown.