The Dawkter's Wife - It's all champagne and caviar now … dahling

Surviving Cancer,The Loony Bin

November 25, 2010


5 years ago today (yah, yah, I have to go there) I was basting the turkey but I had such terrible chest pain radiating to my shoulder.  I was pregnant, so I took tylenol, but it didn’t seem to help.  I ended up lying in bed while the turkey cooked with a heating pad and special hot packs that you put in the microwave.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how I had pulled a muscle or done something to cause the pain.  Ultimately, the pain did change in form and then go away, but when I was diagnosed with the large tumor in my chest just a few weeks later, it occurred to us all that it might have been referred pain from the growing tumor itself.

I’m thankful that 5 years later I am here to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family.  I’ve moped all week about the fact that we don’t have extended family visiting us.  I want to cook the turkey with my mom, set the table with my brother sitting on a stool at the center island, and drink a glass of wine with my dad.  Family, no matter how imperfect, is family.  I even tried inviting local friends to join us just to give it that *Thanksgiving feeling* but everyone is busy with their extended families.  Thomas reminded me that we are creating traditions that our kids might not appreciate now (as in I will cook for hours and then they will eat for 15 minutes, jump up and leave the table and then spend the day playing their video games), but that they will hold dearly someday when they are filling our home with their families for the holidays. In ten years, I might be cooking the turkey with Amanda, while Andrew sits on a stool in my kitchen and Alex and I share a glass of wine.

I’m thankful all year round for Thomas.  I am approaching 17 years of marriage with the man that I consider to be my best friend and soul mate. We have survived some really bad and really good times together, and at the end of the day, we have come out with a stronger, gentler marriage. We are in it for the long haul. I am thankful for the emotional security that this gives me.

I’m thankful that Andrew is happier this year … and that he is becoming easy-going and is finally smiling again. He actually friended me on facebook on his own last week without me sneaking into his account and friending myself just to be unfriended when he discovered it. He has even liked a few of my comments. I don’t want to get too thankful, because I’m afraid of jinxing myself, but our conversations have slowly emerged from the grouchy, angry teenager and exhausted mom to a smoother, more confident young man and a cautiously optimistic mom doing an internal happy dance!  We still have those moments, but they are fewer and farther between.

I’m super thankful for the time that I have with Amanda now that we are homeschooling. We might not be having the most academic month, but we are going out to lunch together, talking about life and friends and are reconnecting in a very different way. She needs some time away from the drama of her old friendships to build her self-esteem and to start thinking for herself. I am noticing a difference in the way that she carries herself and dresses.  We haven’t had a single argument since she left the high school and we walked down this new road together.  My heart breaks for her that most of her old friends have simply walked away from her.  This group of girls was always into the drama of deciding that one girl wasn’t worthy of friendship and needed to be excluded.  Now that Amanda isn’t at school every day, she is the one who has been rejected.  At the same time, I spoke with one of the girls who told me that Amanda simply created too much drama in her life and that her life is calmer since no longer being friends with Amanda.  As much as that hurts me for Amanda, it is a lesson to her and one that I’m afraid she is definitely learning the hard way.  In December she starts her new school program and I think she will be ready.  She is starting the Stanford EPGY program for math and language arts.  Though she has historically struggled with math and may need more time to complete the Algebra course, she was accepted into the language arts program on her own merits.  Her poor grades in LA have always been due to her lack of organization and laziness and not ability.  My hope for her is that she will continue to grow in her self-confidence as she works through this new program and that when she returns to school next Fall, she will go back a more mature, confident young woman.  I truly believe that it is possible. I’m so thankful that we have the chance to make these changes.

I’m thankful that I get to go to the band/choir/orchestra concerts in a couple of weeks to hear Alex play violin and drums for the first time! I can’t wait for this. The biggest surprise has been that he loves playing violin and practices at home several evenings during the week. I am thankful that everytime Alex leaves the house, he hugs me and says “I love you mom”. He is the child that will ask me for $2 and then asks if we can stop at the gas station on the way home from school… when I stop, he will surprise me by going in and bringing me a bottle of diet coke.  He is probably the most selfless of my children…and the one with the most patience.  If I don’t feel well, he is most sensitive to my needs…and I think he is also my happiest child.  I worried a lot about him changing schools this year and leaving the comfort of the friendships he has had since Kindergarten.  In true Alex style though, he has just gone gangbusters with meeting friends and settling in.

I’m also thankful that Aidan is in Mrs. Anderson’s class and that he is having such a good year. He’s still a little monkey, but … she can handle him. I love that even though he has his special fort bed that he falls asleep in, that he still wakes up sometimes in the middle of the night to come and snuggle up next to me.  I love waking up in the morning to discover that he has snuck into our bed and has nestled himself against my legs at the foot of the bed.  I’m thankful that he’s not old enough to hug and kiss me…even in public. I love that he wants to put the noodles in the boiling water and stir the sauce.

I’m thankful for Zoe’s health…I’m thankful that even though she drives me crazy talking absolutely non-stop all. of. the. time to the point that I sometimes have to walk away from her … that she is perfectly normal. I’m thankful that she thinks I’m a princess too.  I am truly thankful every time that I look at her.  As I approach the five year mark of diagnosis of a journey that she and I went on together during my pregnancy and after her birth, I feel a closeness to her that is hard to explain.  I remember odd things about that pregnancy now…feelings and thoughts that I didn’t remember having.  She and I will always have something unique even though … she will probably never really understand what that is.  Thank you God for giving me such a beautiful, loud, chaotic, busy, frantic, tangle haired little gift to watch over….the one who is hanging on me right now while I sit on the sofa trying to type this singing It’s nice and cheesy and it’s really pretty easy, so please make some Kraft macaroni and cheese. I am trying hard to take good care of her.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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