Thursday, 6 September 2012


My father died of lung cancer when I was almost 27 years old.  This was four months before my wedding.  The lasting impact of this event was that I recognized life is short.  It changed me and made me realize that my relationships with family and friends are more important than worldly, material "things".  Our money doesn't comfort us when we've had a bad day.  Our possessions won't help us through major life changes.  Relationships are extremely important and special.  This was reinforced again when my family doctor told me in November of last year that the lump in my neck was either lung cancer, thyroid cancer or lymphoma.

My relationship with my husband has become even stronger and healthier in the last nine months.  I love my children so very much but they are teenagers and they are at the stage where they want nothing to do with me.  I recognize that this is part of a teenager's attempt to gain independence and grow from a child to an adult.  The relationship with my daughter reminds me of the book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.  Mr. Munsch describes the teenage years really well.  "He grew until he was a teenager.  He had strange friends and he wore strange clothes and he listened to strange music.  Sometimes the mother felt like she was in a zoo!"  I definitely feel like my teenagers are a different species from myself.  What bothers me is that life is short and, as I respect my teenagers' wants of independence and space from me, I am hurting because of the "teenage attitude".  I'm trying to understand my children.  I give them their space.  My fear is that in doing so, they will never return to me.  I guess I'm feeling nostalgic for when they were little children and we'd go for walks together, spend time together, play board games together and have fun together.  I miss those days and the teenage years are so much different that it hurts.  I also recognize that I'm much more sensitive to how brief life can be.  It can be taken from us in an instant.

This was reinforced to me again yesterday.  I've been spending the last week contacting my students and arranging lessons.  Last night I answered the phone and it was the father of a family that I have taught for 10 years.  I had a very long conversation with this gentleman.  This is another family that has had a health challenge that "blew them out of the water".  My chat with this father has echoed with me all evening and into this morning.  Literally in an instant, we can be taken from our family.  It doesn't matter how fit you are.  It doesn't matter how much money you have.  Life can be snuffed out immediately.  I think of this family and I think of my own situation.  Sometimes, we just don't have the luxury of time to wait out the teenage years.  This morning, I have a sense of urgency to figuratively shake my children and other teenagers out of their attitudes.  "WAKE UP!!" is what I want say.  "LIFE IS TOO SHORT!" is what I want to get through to them.  It doesn't matter what I say, how I say it or what I do because my teenagers automatically think I'm being critical and combative.  I want their attitudes to change.  This summer (and it was reinforced with the conversation I had with the father last night) I had and I continue to have a strong sense of motivation to have healthy relationships within my immediate family and also to nurture the relationships with all my friends.

In order to have healthy relationships, I truly believe you need to spend time with the people.  I've spent my summer visiting friends and spending time with family.  I want to spend time with my daughter.  I want to spend time with my son.  We recognized that our son wanted to spend as much time with his girlfriend before she went away to post-secondary education.  We let him do that.  I missed him terribly.  We've let our daughter spend time with her friends.  We've let both our children have their "alone" time in separate rooms from us.  I miss them terribly and I want to spend time with my children!  When I walk into a room to see what they're up to, I'm treated with suspicion and indifference.  I know that this is regular teenage "stuff" but it still hurts.  I'm just so afraid that all this could lead to a permanent chasm in our relationships because we don't spend "good" time together.  If the lymphoma ever came back, I'm afraid that my time in life would be shortened considerably and I may not have the luxury to wait until my children outgrow these attitudes.  I want healthy, close relationships with my children.  I want to be a friend to them.  I want to enjoy their presence and I want them to enjoy being with me.

All these anxieties have the capability to eat away at my insides.  When I really think about them and identify them, they create stress within me.  Throughout my life as I've had major challenges and crises, I have turned to my faith to help me through them.  As I write the blog this morning, I recognize that I cannot change my children.  They have to change themselves.  I can't figuratively bonk them over the head.  They have to come to the realization themselves of how important family relationships are.  So when things are out of my control, I pray.  I am handing over my anxieties and fears about my relationships with my children to God.  I will continue to pray for peace and serenity for myself.  I will continue to pray that my children will traverse the teenage years safely.  I will continue to try to spend time with them.  I will continue to give them their space and respect them as individuals.  Please God just don't let them take too long to recognize how important family relationship are!  As far as my fear of the lymphoma returning, that is being put back in the "What If Closet" in my mind.  That door is being shut and locked.


  1. I can really relate to this, Cathy, and although it's hard to deal with, I'm afraid that there's not much that can be done about it aside from our children knowing that our door is open, and that we are always there to welcome them with open arms. It's a period that all young people go through as they try to firmly establish their independence. And it's very important that they do so. They do come back eventually. My daughter who turned 20 this year actually enjoys spending time with me now. She calls me on the phone and looks forward to visiting and being together. So, as long as the relationship with our children was a good one to begin with, eventually they find their way back home. When they're ready. As parents, it's hard to deal with - and it can be quite heartbreaking - but as the saying goes "This too shall pass"

  2. Thank you for the encouragement. I know that other mothers have told me that it does get better. My fear is that in trying to be a good mother and give my teenagers boundaries and guidelines, I've somehow damaged my teenagers and they won't come back. On the bright side, I do see glimpses of my children before they were teenagers such as when they give me a spontaneous hug (not very often but still it' a hug) or give me a genuine smile. Patience has never been one of my virtues but it is being exercised now for sure. Thanks again for the encouragement. It helped.