A couple of months ago, my daughter and I were talking about snowflakes. She expressed doubt in the belief that “no two snowflakes are exactly alike.” She wondered how this could be possible when there are just so many of them. And how could we even know for a fact they were all unique if we didn’t look at, compare, and analyze every single one? Well, that made me stop and think, and I had to admit—she had a point.
Unlike snowflakes, I don’t have to inspect every single woman and mother throughout the world to know that we are all varied, different, and unique. I can confidently say that “no two women are exactly alike.” Our circumstances, experiences, choices, and sometimes things totally out of our control shape and mold us. When analyzed and compared, our snowflake may look very similar to the other snowflakes around us, or it might look very, very different.
A few years ago my world was turned completely upside down when I was unexpectedly diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of breast cancer. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom, and my children were nine, five, and two years old.
Needless to say, the timing was not ideal.
I endured multiple surgeries, hospital stays, chemotherapy, and the most mentally and physically challenging two years of my life as I fought through and recovered from the disease. I was sick. I was exhausted. I was drained. I was impatient. I was limited. I was sad. I was frustrated. I was lonely. But despite all of my day-to-day struggles, my young children still needed me to show up and be their mother. That was not easy.
For me, the most difficult part of going through a long-term illness was not the disease itself but the effect it had on my ability to mother in the way I thought I should. And in the way I thought other people expected me to. I spent a long time feeling like I was failing every single day because I couldn’t organize fun and educational trips to the library or the zoo. Or go outside and toss a football. Or wear matching aprons and bake cookies from scratch. I couldn’t even do the basics like drive my kids to school or help them get dressed. And lots of other moms around me could. If I was able to drag myself down the stairs to see if everyone had scavenged something to eat every morning, it was a triumph. I was not a poster child for the daily grind of “momming” during the time when I felt like my children needed me the most.
When I became a mother, this was not at all what I pictured. It wasn’t what I had planned for my life or what I thought would happen. But it did. There are some things I wish I could have done differently. But I couldn’t. I cannot go back and reclaim that time in my life or in my kids’ lives. I have to be at peace with knowing I did my very best in very trying circumstances.