Three Good Things [the Cancerversary Edition]

tgt november

I was deep into a little pity party Saturday afternoon. Neither kid had napped. Katie had screamed essentially all afternoon. Her sleep is — has always been — terrible. I was — am — tired. The to do list was long, and growing, as I looked ahead toward December. I’d had two Dunkies coffees, and I could have handled a third.

And then I actually looked at the calendar. It was November 28. That made today November 30. My cancerversary. I needed an attitude adjustment, and damn if that wasn’t an instant one. What the hell was I complaining about? That I had two kids who need me? That I have friends I’d committed to seeing this month? That I needed to design Christmas cards to send to family who are happy to receive them?

If virtual whiplash is possible, I experienced it in that minute. Because I am lucky, goddammit. I have people to love and people who love me. And I’m here, and I’m healthy. The rest is sometimes very buttery frosting and sometimes hard and inedible fondant, but all icing nonetheless.

And so it’s somehow fitting that I didn’t get this month’s Three Good Things post done in time to post before Thanksgiving, as I’d planned. Because it was more important for the universe to remind me in a less subtle way about what really matters, at the very end of November. Here’s to eight years of survivorship, and decades more to come.

On to November’s good things.

Three things I loved this month:

  • People finding ways to make it easier for parents to carry their babies. In one case, a 16-year-old inventor developed a baby carrier wheelchair so a disabled mom could take a walk with her newborn baby. And in another, a mom mobilized to send thousands of baby carriers to Syrian refugees. I’m not looking to start a debate over Syria here, but I was so moved by how a seemingly small thing – donating baby carriers that have long gone unused – could make such a big difference in these families’ lives. (Speaking of, do you have one to send?) I loved, too, these lines from the related Scary Mommy piece: “It took one person to decide to make an effort for this wonderful landslide of help to begin. Don’t ever think the world’s problems are just too big for you to make a dent.”
  • Along those lines, Play, Work or Dash. A blogger I follow saw another need – that parents who work from home often need child care, meeting space, dedicated work space, or all of the above – and decided to solve it. In January, she’s opening the first Play, Work or Dash space in Northern Virginia, where parents can get reliable child care while they run a meeting or make a deadline. I know so many freelance or part-time working parents who could use a service like this. And the simple fact that they don’t all live near D.C. tells me that this will be only the first of its kind.
  • 50 of the most beautiful sentences in literature. In addition to reminding me of a lot of classics that I still need to read, this list just made me happy. There’s Anne of Green Gables, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Toni Morrison, and Shakespeare. And there’s this, from Steinbeck’s East of Eden: “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

Three things I learned:

  • The backstory of how the movie “Clue” went from a forgotten flop to a cult triumph. I remember loving this movie as a kid (when I also loved playing the board game), so I wasn’t one of those who had to be won over with the film’s smarts. But I happened to watch it again a couple of months ago and liked it all over again. For the record, I’ve always been Miss Scarlet, though I think I could do without Lesley Ann Warren’s corset from the movie.
  • Style for the reluctant mom. It may just seem like I’m required to somehow mention Stitch Fix in every post now. But as you’ll read more about in my upcoming post about Fix #3, revitalizing my wardrobe has had a tangible effect on my last few months, and not just because I have some new pants (that fit!) hanging in my closet. I’ve also found a bunch of interesting new blogs to read along the way, and I really appreciated this series from Simple on Purpose about the difference that paying more attention to fashion made in her life.
  • The connection of flame retardants to thyroid function. I doubt that we’ll ever know exactly what caused my thyroid cancer; I suspect it was the cumulative effect of lots of environmental toxins. Studies like this one that link flame retardants to abnormal thyroid function both frustrate and encourage me. These chemicals are everywhere, from our kids’ pajamas to our furniture. I’d like to hope that information like this can drive changes in manufacturing — Macy’s, IKEA, and Walmart have already pledged to stop selling furniture with the chemicals — and that it will help inform consumers to be better advocates for our health.

Three things for which I was grateful:

  • The Bloggess’ series of mortifying tweets. There was a lot of sadness in the world this month. I’ve been glad to have a (seemingly neverending) series of tweets to and from Jenny Lawson of people sharing their most embarrassing moments to serve as total escapism. They’ve made me laugh, they’ve made me cry, they’ve made me snort, they’ve made me hyperventilate, they’ve made me frantically text friends telling them that they absolutely must, right this minute, read about the guy who called foals “horse kittens.”
  • Clean and plentiful diapers for our kids. Diapers are freaking expensive. Did you know that one in three families has trouble affording sufficient clean diapers for their babies? I took Teddy with me to volunteer at the DC Diaper Bank last week, and I was bowled over by the pallets of diapers stacked 10 feet high — and by the fact that there is a need for every single one of those donated diapers. As I looked at Teddy, playing away in the kids’ space, I was reminded that it wasn’t all that long ago that he was the baby going through eight or ten diapers a day. I thought about how stressful it would have been to worry about whether we could afford to keep him dry and clean, and how fortunate we are that the cost of diapers is an annoyance, but not a burden.
  • Friends who live nearby and are willing to let us use their guest room on a minute’s notice. One Thursday night a couple of weeks ago, I stood in our driveway and called Bridget and Jason. “Can we come to your house? Can we stay at your house tonight?” I asked. We’d been awakened the night before by a mouse. And when I say “awakened,” I mean that the mouse ran across my pillow and flicked me in the face with its tail. And bit B on the finger. (Really. Also, sorry if that gives you nightmares.) And, as far as we knew, it was still in our bedroom, because we’d fled downstairs at 2:45 a.m. after that encounter. I just couldn’t sleep in the house the next night. Our friends rolled out a pack and play for Katie, a bed for Teddy, and a blissfully mouse-free space for us all to sleep. Also, some much-needed wine. Related: I’m also thankful for good exterminators who found the spot where the rodent got in and plugged it while our unwelcome visitor was foraging around outside. We haven’t seen him since.

What have you loved, learned, and felt grateful for this month?

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