My wake-up call to be a better mom.
A Mom’s Wake-up Call
I’ve always been a loyal employee. If I had to work, but my kid was sick, I found someone else to take him because I had made a commitment to work. After work, I did side jobs to make even more money. Or I’d take online classes. Or I’d clean. Or I’d be on the phone with my friends. Instagram addict right here! And my son would play by himself. I was just always so busy. Not to mention, I don’t like to play. I’m just one of those Moms that does not like to get on the floor and pretend play. It’s not my thing, and never has been. So I didn’t do it.
Then my whole world changed.
It was a Friday. Carter, aged 4 at the time, had been sick since Wednesday evening. He’d had an unexplainable fever that kept getting worse and worse. Medicine did nothing and he had no other symptoms except for being lethargic. Finally, just before lunch, my husband called me at work.
“Carter’s really sick. He won’t talk and he’s not even moving anymore,” Kyle told me.
We decided to take him into the ER. It wasn’t our first trip to the ER with him, but for some reason, I knew this trip was different than the others. It wasn’t the flu. It wasn’t an asthma attack. It was serious.
Hours later, I sat in the back of an ambulance with my 4-year-old, being transferred to the children’s hospital. He wasn’t even excited about being in an ambulance. He just laid there. When we got to the children’s hospital, we were immediately taken to floor 9, which surprised me. We were taken to a private room, where the on-call doctor was waiting for us. My husband and parents were still on their way, as they had left after the ambulance.
“Hi,” he shook my hand, “I’m Dr. (so-and-so; I don’t remember his name). I’m one of the pediatric oncologists here.”
Oncologist. Pediatric oncologist?! It floored me. No one had said Carter had cancer. No one had told me anything. Sure, I’d googled his symptoms. But it wasn’t confirmed! I sat on the couch and cried as a pregnant nurse held me.
His diagnosis was confirmed on Monday. He’d gone through a long weekend of blood transfusions, as the cancer had completely taken over his blood and his red blood count was dangerously low. A few more days and we would have lost him. He had a bone marrow aspiration Monday, and an hour later his doctor told us that he had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. His bone marrow was 85% cancer. Later that day he underwent surgery to have a port placed in his chest and he received his very first dose of chemotherapy. We then spent the next month living in that very room we were first taken to.
That was almost three years ago. I quit my job while he was still hospitalized. And I learned to play. I learned to slow down. To stop and take time.
Because does it really matter if all the dishes are clean? Does it really matter if I get a 4.0 GPA? Does it really matter that we have so many material possessions?
I was forced to reprioritize, and I’m grateful for it. Each and every day, I stop. No work, no phone, no housework. Just my babies. Carter usually chooses for us to play cars (which I still don’t really enjoy, but I do enjoy the quality time). I take advantage of this time with him to ask questions, talk about anything going on in our lives, and joke around with him. It’s a time I cherish.
To be blunt, watching your kid have cancer really sucks. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia requires just over 3 years of chemotherapy; the first half of it quite intensive. And it is awful. But… It made me a better Mom. It forced me to slow down and put everything into perspective to me.
I don’t want anyone else to have to have the wake-up call that I had. That’s why I’m writing this. Don’t wait until you get a slap in the face to make you realize how important these moments are with your kids. This doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, stop going to college, or let the house fall to pieces. Just slow down. Take a little bit of time each day to really, truly have one-on-one time with your kids. Because life will still be there when you get back! The dishes can wait. Phone calls can be returned. Instagram will not disappear. But your kids will only be this age once – which is a cliché, but true. You’ll never get this age back with them. Take advantage of every single day!
About the author: Mandy Piglowski joined the Simply Kids team in January. She is a wife and a mom of two boys; Carter (aged 7) and Benji (aged 1). She has degrees in Psychology and Business Administration. She is currently a freelance writer and designer, as well as a virtual assistant and social media manager. She started working from home in 2015 when her oldest son Carter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Her family has used this experience to grow together and they are passionate about helping others.
In her spare time, Mandy loves to go camping with her family, practice handlettering, and listen to true crime podcasts. She loves to travel, experience new things, and be outside.
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