Why it’s fun to make my kid cry

To start, I’m still sick.  I’m beginning to suspect bronchitis.  BFF #1 has it, and it’s possible that I got the bug from her before she knew she had it.  I got a little better for a couple of days, but I feel worse than I did before, now.  Plus, no voice, again.  I did, however, make it to the Christmas party in my bad-ass steel-gray dress (because I was so freakin’ medicated that I could have bled pseudoephedrine).  And I looked good.  So there’s that.  Yay.  Today?  Sucking.  Whatever.  It’ll pass soon enough.

With Christmas rapidly approaching (I really should put the Christmas Tree up already), I was thinking about some of our holiday traditions and how they came about.  Here they are, in no particular order (plus the reason why we do it):

  • Frozen Pizza on Christmas Eve
    We started doing this after many years of Christmas Eve dinner with my in-laws.  They are very nice and well-meaning, but their food is gross.  Not even kidding, none of us ever really enjoyed the meal.  So, one night after the meal, we stopped at a grocery store and picked up a frozen pizza for each of us.  Later that night, we realized that we loved it because each of us got what we wanted (I am a veggie pizza girl, the kiddo likes cheese, and the hubs loves meat).
  • No family on Christmas Day
    It’s just a rule.  Keeps me from murdering them.
  • Chinese Food on Christmas Day
    One year we were so broke that we took the Christmas money we got from the In-Laws and went to the cheapest chinese food restaurant that was open so we had at least something to eat on Christmas Day.  The next year, we did it for fun.  Now we do it for tradition.

Lastly, one of the biggest traditions is one that will make me laugh forever: torturing my daughter with Dora the Explorer.

Dora the Explorer / Courtesy Nickelodeon

Christmas Dora / Nickelodeon

When my daughter (now 16 and a half years old) was only 7, we would put Dora the Explorer on TV and tease her by saying we knew how much she loved it.  She would get all haughty and stomp out of the room.  All of the sudden, we had an instant child remover!  We could put it on, at any time, and she would run out of the room.  (For the record, we’ve probably watched most of the episodes of Dora.  It works to this day!)  Because of this strong aversion, I started buying cheap Dora-themed items and giving them to her for random holidays.  Christmas, Birthdays, even Easter, once.

When she was 9, I started harping on the Dora thing about two weeks before the holiday.  By December 22nd, I had her convinced that not only did *we* get her Dora stuff, but so did her Papa.  On the 23rd, everything came to a head.

Her: So… when will be taking the presents back so I can get the stuff I want.
Me: *gasp* (giving her a stern look) Not until after Christmas!  There’s no time now!  And there’s like, 4 feet of snow on the ground.  I’m not going to tell Papa to go to the store now!
Her: Mom! (and she gets really upset now)  But it’s all Dora stuff!
Me:  I don’t care.  You need to be gracious, even if you don’t like it!  You don’t want to hurt his feelings do you?
Her: (crying now)  But…mom?
Me: Knock it off.  Be graceful, not a spoiled brat!

I know… I’m cruel.  She left the room bawling and I was giggling.  The hubs scolded me and told me that I was being mean.  So I ended up going into her room and calming her down and telling her I was kidding and Papa didn’t get her Dora stuff.  She settled down and I was bummed because I was really enjoying myself.  I get it though.  It’s not nice to scar the child.

She learned a few things, though.  She learned that no matter what, she should be gracious about gifts.  Even when it’s not the thing she wants, it’s the thought that counts.  We used to have a little trouble with her, when she was young, with being kind and polite in challenging circumstances.  One thing I won’t ever tolerate is a spoiled child, so this taught her something.

I did get the last laugh, though.  The very first gift she opened on Christmas Day?  Dora Bubble Bath.  Yeah…her facial expression was priceless. I winked, and she got the joke.  But ever since then, we have that.  I told her that I’ll give her Dora panties when she gets married.  And the great thing is she knows I will.

That’s love.

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Why I stopped at one

I have to toot my own horn and say that I have a way with words.  I can make connections and analogies that make difficult things easier to understand.  I once used frozen fries to make a connection to hypnotherapy…. don’t ask.  But trust me, it worked.

Unfortunately, my gift can fail me at the most unusual times.  This post is about one of those times.

My daughter was thirteen years old.  I had taken her to the doctor and had expressed concern that she hadn’t gotten her first period yet.
(Don’t worry, men – I am *not* going into almost any amount of detail.)  He told me that it would come, in time, but to be proactive and talk with her about it before it happens, and lessen her trauma.  So, I tried.

I started by talking with her about mommy’s time-of-the-month.  I tried to talk about it medically.  Giving the appropriate terms and correct descriptions.  Her response: “Gross.  That’s gross.”

Well… she’s got me there.

So I tried again.

Me:  Okay…. so  it’s sort of like flushing a toilet.

Her (looking at me like I have a cat on my face): Gross.

Me:  Work with me, kid.  I’m trying to explain it.  Like a toilet, it has a purpose.  It holds the stuff you put in it until you don’t need it anymore, then you flush.

Her: ……..

Me (realizing I am in too deep at this point, but I need to keep going): Okay, but it’s sort of different.  You see, your body fills up your insides so that you can have a baby.

Her: I don’t want a baby.

Me: Good, but stay with me here.  So, every month it does this and when you don’t need it anymore, it flushes out until the next month.

Her: Why doesn’t it just stay full?  Like, forever?

Me: Because a toilet has to be refreshed, doesn’t it?

Her: Does this mean I don’t have to flush the toilet?

Me: No.

Her: Who flushes the toilet?

Me: You should.

Her: No.  Inside me.

Me: I don’t know.  God, I guess.

Her: Why can’t I choose when to flush?

Me (now realizing I’ve gone too far): Forget about the toilet!  My point is that you fill up, you flush, and you do this every month.  It’ll happen to you.  Don’t freak out.

Her: Do I have to wipe after it flushes?

Me: Oh God…. sorry… I’ve screwed this up.  Forget it.  Here’s the thing: when it happens, I’ll help you.  Until then, let’s pretend I didn’t say anything.

Her: Okay.  It’s still gross.

At this point… I walk away.  I’m fairly much mortified.  In one single conversation, I have managed to liken my daughter’s reproductive system to a toilet, her uterus to a crap receptacle… and I’m pretty sure she isn’t wiping or flushing for a month.

Motherhood: 1  Me: 0     ………………….This is why I only had one kid.

It isn’t cancer!

I am so relieved.  Beyond relieved.  I cried when I got the call… I could hardly keep it together while I was on the phone with her.  It was the best news I have heard in a long time…. it isn’t cancer. What a relief.

There are some take-aways I’ve gotten from this that I am compelled to share:

  • Self-breast exams save lives.  The truth is that if it *was* cancer, we would have caught it within a fairly small window.  Since my daughter has been doing self-exams here and there, she knew when something felt wrong. That is HUGE.  So, to the friend that reminds me to check every month: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
  • The relief I feel now has an opposite and wholly horrifying feeling that I know that people all around the world have shared.  If it were cancer, my life would have fallen apart.  And my heart goes out to all of those people.
  • “Those people” aren’t just ladies.  They are also men.  And they aren’t just ladies and men with breast cancer (or any cancer), they are the family of those people.  They are the friends.  They are co-workers.  They are clients.  I had no idea the ripple effect that a scare like this has.  I also had no idea the amount of support that would come, either.  People that had no reason to be there for me, were.  People that are distant, felt close again.  The truth is that it affects everyone.
  • People lose the battle all the time.  And my heart and prayers go out to them.  And their families.  And their friends.  And the people who never knew them.  Because this horrible disease steals life from under us.  And I will pray, donate, and bring awareness until, hopefully, we find a cure.
Today, remember that “normal” and “business-as-usual” is almost always taken for granted.  Trust me, it’s better than the alternative.  And never, ever take your health for granted.  In the blink of an eye, everything can change.
Thank you for the thoughts and prayers and love and everything you did for me – whether at a distance or not.  It means absolutely everything to me.

Playing the waiting game…

Update: The urgent move to today was moved back to Friday because doctors suck.  Seriously, if you give me an hour’s notice before you give away the appointment, why tell me at all?  And why say, “Because we’ve reviewed your case we need to see you sooner?”  And why *not* say, “If I don’t hear back from you in __ minutes, we’ll offer the appointment to someone else.”

I’m all a mess now.  Slept like shit.  I’m stressed beyond reason.  I’m worried.  Even though the BFF tells me not to worry, and gives a pretty good argument why I shouldn’t worry.  But, I worry nonetheless.

So, we wait.  Until Friday.  Again.  I’ll keep you updated.  Keep me in your thoughts. ❤

Go to hell, lump

If I hear, one more time, it’s probably nothing, I think I will throw up.  I know that, on  the contrary, I don’t want people freaking out, like, “Oh my God!  She’s gonna die!”  But put yourself in my position, staring down a lump in your 16-year-old daughter’s breast. Are you really thinking, “It’s probably nothing.”  Or are you thinking, “Fuck you, lump.”

‘Cause that what I’m thinking.  Fuck you, lump.

I sat there, watching as the ultrasound tech slowly maneuvered around my daughter’s skin and there it was.  I realize it was magnified, but until we know for sure, that dark mass on the screen has all the power.  We wait for it to be determined to be the big, bad C, or something less than that: Fibroadenoma.  Which is basically a benign growth that is tumor-like, but not a tumor.  (Insert Arnie joke here: “It’s not a tooma.” Hey, I can still joke, right?)

But that isn’t the point of this.  The point of this is that I hate that fucking lump.  Who does it think it is, making residence in *my* daughter’s body?  I swear to God, if it is the big C, I will fucking obliterate it.  I will make it wish it never grew.  Because she is 16 fucking years old and the last thing she should worry about is having a lump biopsied 10 days before she starts school.

I am angry with my family history.  I am angry with disease, because it has no respect for age.

I know, before you go there, that it is probably nothing.  But stare down the barrel at that lump on the screen.  You’d think it, too.

Fuck cancer.  And go to hell, lump.  You don’t have any place in her body or in our life.  And you can quote me on that.

That’s never a good sound

So I took my daughter in for the breast exam/annual physical.

Did you know that girls don’t have to get pap smears done until they are 21 now?  Whether they are sexually active or not?  Hooray for that!

But, back to the saga:

In case you need background, my 16-year-old daughter found a lump in her breast.  Yay that she is 16 and already doing breast exams.  Boo that she found something.

But, as any good parent would, I took her in to see the doctor.  She needed her annual physical done, anyway.  So in we go.  We do the general “how’s-everything-going” exam.  She says that she is doing great for her age (newsflash – my daughter is now officially taller than me by a 1/2 inch, and is doing everything in her power to rub it in).  We get to the big concern: the lump.

The doctor says, “Let me see if I can find it first.”  She then does her exam.  I am almost holding my breath.  “Hmmm,” she says, “I don’t feel it.”  I literally exhale 16 years worth of concern.  She asks my daughter to show her where the lump is.  And then….

Doctor: Oh… Oh!

Me: I don’t like the sound of that “oh!”

Doctor: I wasn’t expecting that.  Wow…. Um, okay…. (she is still feeling it and around it, and looks rather puzzled)

Me: ……. (I am back to holding my breath)

Doctor: It’s a lot deeper than I expected, so I wasn’t looking there at all.

Me: I don’t know what that means.

Doctor: (finally finishing and turning around to look at me) Okay, so it’s probably not cancer. (I breathe out, again.)  It is likely something called Fibroadenoma.  Which is basically a lump that feels like cancer but is benign. But (I am back to holding my breath), it’ll need to be removed.  It’s called a lumpectomy, and because of the size and the location, it’ll need to come out.

At this point, she instructs my daughter to get dressed and go pee in a cup.  While she is gone the doctor comes back in to tell me what is happening and gives me the sobering conversation that, yes, it is probably not cancer.  But, it could be and I need to be aware of it.  Because of the size, shape and depth of the lump, we have a reason to be concerned.  But we have things to do before we freak out.

First we do an ultrasound to determine further what it is.  If it is still concerning, it may be a mammogram next.  Or, they may just remove it and be done with the whole thing, and biopsy it when it is taken out (this was not something I understood; the hubs had to explain that part).  Either way, she will be anxious and we don’t want her to be concerned until there is something to be concerned about.  And right now, the wise doctor prescribes me that worry, and not my daughter.  Which I am fine with.

So, in the meantime, I will worry.  It’s probably nothing.  But even if it is nothing, my sweet teenager has to think about a lump being removed from her breast.  That sucks.  …………..But it doesn’t suck as much as cancer.  And that is something that, today, I am thankful for.

If you pray, say a prayer for my baby.  She needs it.  I’ll survive, but she needs all the extra help she can get.

As usual, you’ll get the update.

It’s probably nothing… it’s not cancer

I have a friend who reminds me, on most months, to check for breast cancer.  Almost every month, on the 9th of the month, I get this reminder.  And on these months, I pass on the reminder to my friends.  And my daughter.  She’s 16.

Breast Cancer Awareness

It's probably nothing for her, but you should check your boobies anyway.

This morning, on the 9th of the month, she comes to me and says “Mom, I felt a lump.”  Now, the first thought was just a total blow-off.  She’s only 16, for God’s sake!  16-year-old girls don’t get lumps.  This is what I said to reason with myself.  She happened to tell me while I am scrambling to get my morning routine out of the way.  I said, “Let me get your daddy out the door to work and I will check it out.”  Honest to God, I wasn’t expecting anything.  Besides, you don’t find cancer in your 16-year-old daughter’s breast before 7am.  It’s just a rule.

So, about 25 minutes later I sat down and she showed me where she felt it.  I put my fingertips on the spot and had to hold back my reaction.  Holy shit!  There’s a lump.
** Side note: I remember, about a zillion years ago, I got a hand-out in a doctor’s office that had little “boobies” with implanted lump-types in them, so people could feel what different types of lumps felt like. Most often, a woman will feel a mass that is sort of squishy-like and bulbus, almost.  Those are generally nothing to worry about.  But then, there are those little “pebble-types” under the skin.  Those… those are something to worry about a little more.
This was that type of lump.  It was a small little pebble.  Very contrasting with the tissue around it. Like someone had put a small rock in a sea of marshmallow.

I put on my brave mom-face and said, “Let’s keep an eye on it for the next week.  It’s probably nothing.”  And that is the truth – it’s probably nothing.  But, instinctively, I left the house for work and called the doctor.  She has an appointment tomorrow.

It’s probably nothing.  I know that. I hope that.

Today, though, I am thankful for my friend who sends out those monthly reminders.  Even if I don’t get them *every* month, I got them enough to make a habit.  I am thankful for doctor’s offices who can get my daughter in right away.  I am thankful for my daughter, who brought it to my attention right away.  I am thankful for WebMD, which is informative enough to scare the living shit out of me.  I am thankful for that little voice in my head that is assuring me that it’s nothing.

Tomorrow, I will be thankful for peace-of-mind.

I’ll keep you updated.  In the meantime, it’s the 9th of the month.  Check your boobies, please.