The whole truth

I’ve been having a bit of a hard time keeping this up or doing anything, because up until yesterday, it was still 97 degrees/feels like 122!  It just drains me so bad.  Yesterday, for the first time in almost two months, it was nice enough to open the windows.  It was nice enough to let the girls play outside.  I was able to walk more than a kilometer without being drenched in sweat.  In fact, my windows are open now and it feels wonderful!  It feels like summer in Ohio.  It feels comfortable and familiar.

In two days, my baby turns eight!  Can you believe it?  Eight already!  She wants a sleep-over party with smoothies and a trip to the ball pit.  Her party’s going to have to be a bit late though.

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On my next two days off, we will have to go to the consulate and renew their passports.  Since children’s passports expire after five years, we are on a different schedule.  I will be sad to have their adorable pictures be voided, but at least they will get to keep them as souvenirs of their crazy childhood.

So, we’re going to have her party during mid-autumn festival when I have four days off.  I’m not sure when, but it will be the middle of September.  She doesn’t want to spend her real birthday away from me, so they will be coming to work with me.  Maybe we can do something fun during my prep periods.

I realized something very important to me.  I was interviewed for this article about expats, and one thing I said that I loved about Shanghai is that I can get my groceries delivered to my door, and I don’t have to carry heavy things like milk and potatoes.  I said, even ice gets delivered, and since it’s so hard to find ice here in China, that’s a big deal too.  But, the thing is, I appreciate these things, because even five years later, I am still so weak from the cancer, that carrying things too much or too far is difficult.  I need so much ice every day, to be able to swallow and talk.  Cancer survivor is a label that defines me every day, every moment.  The planning ahead that just goes into eating a meal has become second nature to me, but might be surprising to an outsider.  I told this to the writer (who was definitely not a journalist) and he left it completely out of the story.  He made it sound like I’m some wimp who doesn’t want to carry her own groceries.

Titles like “single mother” and “cancer survivor” define the struggles I live with everyday.  I like to focus on the positive, but life isn’t always pretty.  I survived stage four throat cancer.  I had an 87% chance of dying.  I came within hours of dying from complications.  The fact that I am here, able to eat and drink a variety of foods and can talk, beat all the odds.  I’m kind of proud of that, but mostly, I just don’t want it belittled.

Being a single mother is harder than cancer.  I am 100% responsible for everything.  health insurance, education, basic needs, everything of two other people –oh, AND me.  I have never gotten child support, good or bad, because I also never had a custody battle (good or bad).  I don’t make enough for a family of three.  I have never made enough for a family of three.  But it’s my responsibility, isn’t it?  I can’t save.  I have no end-game.  I will have to work until I die.  Home-schooling is going ok, but I want to do more.  The only time I ever have by myself is walking to work and back (which takes my co-worker 10 minutes, and me, 30, very slow, minutes).  The amount of stress and guilt over every little thing is suffocating.  “I need to do this,” “I need to do that,” “why haven’t you done this yet?” “ You should do this.”  All I want to do is just shut down.

And this is not about my girls.  They are easy.  I am so lucky in that.  Any stress they cause is nothing I can’t handle.  It’s the big stuff, the big picture, the long run, looming over me like a big, heavy, dark cloud waiting to break.  It makes it hard to breathe.  Anyway, all I was thinking is that this writer missed the real story.

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