As I type this out I’m snuggled up in bed with my older boy. The younger one is taking his morning nap, Super Why! is on in the background, and I’m soaking in these lingering moments when it’s just the two of us. I cherish both of my boys, but sometimes it breaks my heart that I can’t give them both all of the attention in the world all the time. They deserve it, but they also deserve to learn how to fend for themselves sometimes – this is a truth that I have to repeat on an hourly basis.
The three of us recently made the 9-hour trip to the Austin, Texas area to visit my parents, sister and brother-in-law and let me say that traveling with two young boys by myself was no easy feat. There were some pretty chaotic moments, a lot of sweet moments, and a lot of fun sprinkled all over the place. I lost my cool, found it again, and spent the trip trying to catch up on sleep – which as a mom of two young boys? Hasn’t happened yet. I’m going to miss these days of them needing so much from me physically though. Part of me knows that the weary soul and anxiety that will come with raising older boys is going to be much more exhausting than the physical tiredness that’s currently happening. I wish I could hold on to their baby faces forever, but I also look so forward to seeing the men that they’ll become. Motherhood living in this permanent state of dichotomy.
Yesterday my big one was jumping into the pool to my outstretched arms, goggles slightly crooked, gigantic smile stretched across his face. BAM! I could have sworn he broke my tooth, and the gushing of blood was hard to contain with a baby in arms and water everywhere. Chaos was the way of life for the next 30 minutes as we rushed to the car, determined I probably didn’t need stitches, and ran through the drive-thru because I knew I couldn’t cook dinner for them with my face throbbing so. I cried for a minute, but as I drove to the pharmacy to get more antibiotic cream I remembered the time I gave my own mother a black eye as she spotted me in gymnastics one day. Stuff happens, but even now – less than 24 hours later – I am already looking back with sweet fondness. My boy was so concerned and sweet, even though I don’t think he really understood exactly what happened. How luck am I to be able to live and enjoy this sweet little life?
You may be wondering exactly where this post is going. A few weeks ago I was showering and noticed something I’d never felt before during my monthly breast exam. Most of my wished it was nothing and tried to talk myself out of calling the doctor, but then I realized it was also time for my yearly OBGYN appointment anyway. Reluctantly I made the call, and a few weeks later found myself telling the doctor about the weird breast tissue I felt. She listened and checked it out, saying that she didn’t think there was anything to worry about but she would rather recommend me to a breast specialist because the tissue in my breast had changed slightly from the last exam.
I found myself in the scheduling room that I sat in when I was scheduling an out-date C-section for my second boy. The scheduler told me that not only would I have to see a breast specialist, but I’d also have to get a mammogram before going to see her as well. Cue panic. For the next week I lived with dread just knowing that the simple act of going to get a mammogram at age 32 meant cancer. My husband talked me down numerous times, but I cried almost every day from the fear that I felt.
The day came and I went to the breast center. I wasn’t ever scared of the mammogram itself; the results though? I was terrified. I walked into the room with my little cape on and burst into tears the moment the sweet tech started talking me through the process. She was so kind, talking to me about my boys and getting my mind off of everything as she did the mammogram. Side note: it didn’t hurt, not even a little bit. I’m not sure where mammograms get a bad rap, but mine was fine.
I waited in my little room with the cape over my shoulders as the doctor looked at the results – it was the longest 10 minutes ever. I just knew what they were going to say and I was bracing myself for the hair loss, the chemo, the insane medical bills.
“Good news! Your mammogram is all clear!” He said it before the door was even totally open. I burst into tears again, this time from the enormous relief. The doctor went on to tell me that he understood my tears, that my exam was clear, and that unless there were any other changes I didn’t need to come back for another 8 years (when I turn 40). The nurse that was with him gave me a huge hug. I was so thankful for that hug! And as they left I did this: I sat in my chair and cried for 5 minutes before I put on my bra and shirt and left to go home. I prayed, thanking God that everything was clear, and I promised Him that I would write about this entire experience and that I would do more living with His purpose in mind rather than my own plans.
I realize that there are a lot of women who routinely get mammograms for various reasons. Maybe my reaction was a little too dramatic – after all, ordering a mammogram doesn’t equate to a death sentence. I’ll tell you what it did for me, though: it snapped my attention back to the importance of living life fully and joyfully, remembering that my job here is to love and serve others in Jesus’ name. It starts with my family and radiates outward, or at least it should.
And it most definitely means giving Him the glory all the time, regardless of my circumstances. Had the mammogram found something cancerous the reality is that God is still God, and He is still good. If my mammogram had turned into a death sentence I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to immediately say that I felt like God is good in every season. I don’t know if I could have held back my anger and remembered the gift of everlasting life that I have. It doesn’t matter how I feel though – what matters is the truth.
And the truth is that He is good.
I’m so thankful to be able to share that a breast cancer-free future is my reality right now, but equally as thankful to have been reminded that we are never promised a tomorrow and the things we do now are what matter. The way I treat my boys when I’m frustrated, the way I work to love them well wherever they’re at, the way I talk to my husband after a hard day, the way we model a loving marriage for our children, the way I honor my parents and cherish my little sister, the way I speak truth and life and love and peace over the people I do life with, the way I give away the things of this world to serve others, the way I stand for what’s right and refuse to cower over the fear of someone else’s opinion – these are what matter.
And I’m recommitting to making it count again.
Besides the fact that I hope you feel challenged to live every day with purpose, I hope that you guys remember these two things:
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do your monthly breast exams. It takes a few minutes and could save your life.
If you have questions or fears or concerns please don’t put off talking to your doctor. There’s nothing in the world worth saving a little face over when it comes to your life.
Much love y’all!