This post is about the thinking I have been doing. I have had many hours to contemplate my life since getting breast cancer. Fatigue is one of the most common and distressing side effects of cancer and all its treatment. Fatigue from cancer treatment is often more intense than the feelings of being tired we all have from time to time. Because I am not taking chemotherapy, and I didn’t do radiation; I didn’t get that type of fatigue. I am wired. To heal, I have to get rest. That has not been easy, so I spend many hours thinking.
So what’s up with that? I can’t sleep. I am not groggy. But when I do feel like a nap is in order, I listen to my body and I go lay down. I have also started practicing ‘quiet’ time. I remember when I use to give it to my kids when they were little. No nap? Fine, you lay down and rest your mind. Make a list of all the things you are thankful for. This always worked for my youngest one, who was the most active. She would toss and turn for an hour or so, but more than likely 20 minutes into a little rest she would doze off. She was so beautiful then. Quiet, not into anything.
Quiet time is good. My mind has been so busy for many years working at Microsoft. I was always saying I never had time to sleep…that there would be plenty of time to sleep when I was dead. That now, is a scary thought. Its okay to sleep, it gives your body time to heal. I have had to learn, that its okay to slow down and live. You can still live, just quieter, and enjoy what you have.
Where did all this moving come from? I think my cancer has its name on it. Busy, always busy, working, traveling, running the kids from one thing or another. When I was in my 20s my brother was killed in an accident. I know this impacted me extensively. I felt obligated to get out and experience everything and as quickly as possible. I was reckless with my behavior. Moving houses, was like changing clothes to me. More money? Bigger house. More Money, travel the world. Sky dive, race cars, married, divorced: repeat all
Maybe in rushing, I missed it. Cancer said ‘wack‘ slow down. But in the late 70s, a young mom, everything was changing. Women were changing. We were leaving. We were all leaving something. In the past, it was the men that left. Now, we were being told to leave. And leave we did. We went back to college, we moved across country, and what happened to the kids? They went with us. Everywhere in the media women were being told that we could lead, be successful, we didn’t have to take the traps and confines of a relationship that no longer fit. We were different people. Roe vs Wade lead us into the land that we could do whatever we wanted with our bodies. We were in charge! and charge we did. We opened business, we changed partners, we tried living abroad, we were hippies, business women, and definitely not stay at home moms. We changed men like shoes. Whatever came in a can or box we opened it and fed it on the go. Soda pop, and we wondered why those kids wouldn’t take a nap? Erica Jong’s book The Fear of Flying, was like my bible in those days. I could do anything, be anybody, go anywhere and we were all GOING!! It was a generation that walked away.
Between 1967 and 1977 the divorce rate in the United States doubled. Did we confuse freedom with movement?
So what did this do to the children? From a child’s perspective this must have been confusing. Children, given a choice, would rather not change or do anything at all. To grow up as one of these children “Was to grow up with compromise, disappointment, experimentation, and strange people around” The liberation of the young women, locked in between two generations themselves, came at a high cost to the children.
Entire books have been written on this topic, and I just gained some awareness the past six months. I have been thinking about my kids alot. How different their lives are than mine was. They have both been married for a long time to the same man. They have good marriages, I like both their husbands. I like them better than any husband I had. They live in the same place forever (anything over 3 years to me is forever), they home school their children. They don’t trust public schools or other kids they don’t know to ‘influence’ their children. At one time I had a hard time with it, now I see they have gotten a good education, and they don’t seem to be socially harmed from not being exposed to their classmates being shot, or bullied. How the world has changed!
The children today are driven to everything. The adult children now raising this new generation of kids, are obsessed with giving them everything, taking them everywhere, nannies, co-op day cares, safe clothing, parental controls on tv, stranger danger, and on. I never even seen my parents when I was age 9 to 14. I was gone on my bike, and then my car followed that. We did nothing together as a family. It wasn’t even a concept I knew about. We didn’t even eat dinner together. Today, my oldest daughter does everything with her kids. The youngest one choose not to have children (like what’s up with that). Neither one of them would ever ever break up their home and leave. I am not saying any of these practices has a good or bad value on them, they are just generational.
So, how does this all come back around to cancer. Cancer has afforded me the luxury of having time to think about all this.
The parents of today eat organic. They don’t feed their kids out of plastic bottles and plastic cups – that will give you cancer we’re told. They wash their vegetables and fruit before eating. They eat a balanced meal, and basically eat whole and fresh. Red food dyes…don’t come near there house ( red licorice…I don’t think so). They want their beef organic, no pesticide spray.
I think many of these things are great. I am a little sad for the past and to have been a part of the history that so strongly took this country in the 70s. On the other hand, we worked hard for the liberties that have been afforded to women, and I hope those are not lost on this generation. There was a time when you did not have a choice. When we were so segregate as a country, by race, gender, laws, and other people having control over are choices.
Many different factors go into a family, and a generation. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong. I think its different. I think we evolve. Hopefully our love can survive the wave. I certainly didn’t set out on this journey to hurt the kids, a la contrary…it was to protect them.
And sometimes in doing things, we get an entirely different outcome.