About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beyond frustrated

My mother in law left this morning. We knew it would be difficult for Jean-Marc. It was, but not as bad as I had feared. It was worse for me. When we got him out of bed, he was asking for "Mamie." We just would say that she was going to be with Papie. ("Mamie" and "Papie" are the kids' names for Eric's parents). It wasn't too bad.

The problem is all with me. I have absolutely zero patience and tolerance for normal two year old right now. I tried today, I really did. But I'm still in pain. My mind is still consumed with cancer. I don't feel like myself physically or mentally.

Mamie loves to indulge the kids, as most grandparents do. When the kids are little like Jean-Marc, we find the first few days pretty rough. We just don't put up with the stuff they get used to. Like toys on the highchair tray. And Jean-Marc had 2 1/2 weeks of having an adult 100% committed to his pleasure his every waking moment. I just can't do it. I tried today, I really did.

Before I knew I had cancer, I had wanted to try potty training. But I know it takes so much commitement from the primary caregiver that I put it on the backburner. While my mother in law was here, she got him on the road to potty training. I didn't ask her to do it, but she was happy to get Jean-Marc going on the potty. She really felt like she was doing me a favor. He was doing great. With her. Not so much for me today. She would sit him on the potty, let him play with his bath toys and even let him play with water. I tried it today after breakfast. He immediately dumped a full cup of water all over my slippered foot. Ugh. We're done with the water. I still had to get ready for church myself, so I couldn't sit there all morning and coddle a poop out of him. Besides, he didn't really eat that large of a breakfast. I tried after lunch too. We stayed there for at least 15 minutes. I brought out every single bath toy. Nothing. Olivier helped me put him down for his nap. After the nap, he woke up, you guessed it....with a poopy diaper. Before dinner he asked for the potty and we went as fast as we could up the stairs with him climbing on his own (I can't carry him). But he had already wet. After dinner, the same thing happened, except this time it was poopy. I cleaned him up and started the bath. While it filled, I tried to get him to sit down and see if he could pee, but he just wanted in the water. Fine. Olivier came and put him in and we did the bath. After the bath, I tried to get him to sit down, but he ran into his room buck naked. Okay, fine. I figured if he had to pee, it probably happened in the tub. Before I could get his pajamas and diaper together, I look at him and he's peeing all over one of his favorite toys! Arrrgh! So frustrating.

I can't help but feel a little irritated for even finding myself on this potty training road. I did not ask for this yet! But here I am, and I feel like I have to keep trying. But I don't have the patience right now. I can't even pick my own kid up to bathe/dress/change him, and I'm supposed to follow through on potty training?

He deserves a better mom right now. I can't even give him the kind of hug I would like. I find myself almost resenting him at times, and that is just so wrong. The older kids are easier, they can entertain themselves. They can understand that I'm going through something hard right now and help out. Jean-Marc is barely two years old and he needs a mom that can take care of him and work with him. I wish I could be that mom right now. I'm frustrated at myself for my own inability. I'm frustrated at my body for still being in pain from surgery. I'm frustrated that as soon as I am going to feel better from surgery, I'm going to be going through chemotherapy and then I'll probably be feeling awful in a multitude of ways. What kind of mom will I be then??

My prayer requests:
  • For patience. With everyone and everything. With myself. With my kids. With Eric. With my body. With God for not pulling me out of this pit faster.
  • For my body to heal. I'm still in pain. It is tiring. I want to be able to stop taking narcotics, but the most I can go down to is 3 a day. Someone today said that the pain meds make you heal faster. I can take some comfort in that, I guess. But still...I want off of them.
  • For Jean-Marc not to feel abandoned and ripped off. I can't help but feel like I'm doing that. Even when I'm physically there, I'm wishing that I wasn't. I'm wishing that I was doing something else, napping, blogging, reading. How awful is that? I love him to pieces, but just can't deal with his normal stuff. I guess this request relates back to the first one.


  1. I find it hard to reconnect with and care for my kids after they have grandparent from out of town attention. I realize that I very much enjoyed being able to have that bit of freedom to check my email or take a walk, etc. And that is without the added pain of surgery and the looming worries of chemo. Maybe a postsurgical doula is in order? or even a part-time nanny or mother's helper? Take care and break out the pull-ups....do what you can...

  2. If it makes you feel any better, Sophia wasn't potty trained until she was a lil over three. He will eventually get trained. I wouldn't stress over it. You have other things on your plate. You are not a bad mother....he is now yanking your chain.
    I'm praying for you and if I can take him for a while and let him and Sophia play so you can get some rest....I'd love to do that. Let me know.

  3. Hi Tonya, it's me Trish, The first thing I would do to eliminate a lil bit of stress is put the potty away, completely out of his sight. I know u r so proud oh how he did, but it is so stressful when they are not consistent and he's just beginning. Let him continue to poop in his diaper, let it go back to the way it was before mamie came over. I think u need a break from it emotionally:) And I know he has a marvelous mom, a mom who feels like she is juggling the world in addition to all of her health and physical worries. I wish I could give you a hug, a very gentle one. Just keep blogging and get it out there. I'll keep prayin, u 2 of course, but also try not to be so hard on yourself, don't beat yourself for the things u can't do right now , embrace the things u r starting to be able to do again. I'm so proud of u 4 ur strength and bravery and God Bless ur big kids for being such great helpers!:) -xoxo- Trish

  4. Hi Tonya,
    You're a wonderful mom. I'm sorry Jean-Marc is being "poopy"! It's hard for others to completely understand what you are going through, especially your kids, who of course need you the most.

    Thank you Oliviar and Isabelle for taking care of your brother and your mom.

    Hang in there. When Chemo does start, your 1st day will feel strange, but it's a few days after that, you'll began to feel tired. Then on your 2nd & 3rd week you'll began to feel somewhat "normal".

    Do you need some more meals? I'd love to come see you again. Maybe a meal around those days when you are feeling tired. ((((Big Air Hugs))))

    Thinking about you always, Nicole

  5. Oh Tonya, I'm the guilty 'Grammie' that tried to 'help' my daughter by potty training her 2.5 year old after her 2nd was just born. It was not a help after I left either.

    Shelly put the potty training on the back burner and Molly trained herself a few months later.

    I am glad the sibs are pitching in and hope Eric does as well. It's not an easy time. I'm so sorry. But you will get through this. Promise.

  6. I'm with the others that say to ditch any potty training efforts at all. They get it or they don't and they accidently go on the pot if they sit on there long enough, it doesn't have anything to do with their own inner knowledge. If you go back to diapers, he should/will eventually hate the feeling of being wet and poopy, especially since he knows the difference... and *then* he will be ready.

    My girls were 2.5 and the boys weren't ready until 3.5... but, with all of them, when they were ready, they were diaper-free and accident-free within a week. Fussing and fretting is the last thing you need.

    And I hear you about being consumed by thoughts of the cancer and surgery... and the upcoming treatments. Acknowledging the energy it takes to think about all of that is really important and it sounds like you are doing it... good for you.

    When you are feeling like you aren't all the mom you "should" be, remember you are ALL the mom they NEED and if you weren't doing these self-treatments/care, they would have NO mommy, so this limited mom is absolutely perfect for now. Also remember all the kids who have mothers who are absent emotionally (addicts, alcoholics, untreated psychotic women, etc.) and those kids do fantastically. While you might not be able to pick Jean-Marc up, you are *there* for him. Know that just *be*ing there is an enormous gift for all the kids.

    Much love... and pull patience from the rest of us... we give it freely.