Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I am many moms

When my first son was born, I was a quintessential “new mom.”  God gave us this incredible gift.  He entrusted me to take care of this most beautiful baby?!?!  The weight of that responsibility was tremendous.  I wanted to be perfect for him because I never loved anything like that before in my life.


I bought every ridiculous and completely unnecessary gadget available.  I actually liked going to Babies R Us and browsing this unknown territory of all things soft and fuzzy (or Buy Buy Baby, even better).  Did I really think that the PeePee TeePees I purchased for $11 were going to spare me from getting pee’ed on once in a while?  I pored over every single thing that went in his mouth, and I beamed with pride over how he just loved his peas and carrots, I must be doing something right! (I didn’t realize that pretty much all babies eat their vegetables when they’re only six months old).  Every tiny little thing Ty did prompted a phone call to my mom, and my husband, and whoever else wanted to hear about the amazing milestone reached like when I was sure he gave me an intentional “thumbs up” at six weeks, or when I could swear he said “boob” when he was hungry almost one year before we actually documented his first word.  He was a genius!

notice the book is upside-down
When Gavin was born, I became the “second-time” mom, which is totally different than the “new mom.”  New mom would never let her infant cry without running to see what was wrong.  Scooping him up.  Making everything alright.  The second-time mom has another toddler or little kid to tend to, and they make themselves much more known than they ever did as an infant.  If Ty wanted my attention, he might throw his tractor at the television, or find a way to escape from the house.  Second-time mom knows that the baby can cry, it won’t scar him for life, but if I leave that toddler alone for another minute he might just put a fork in the microwave.  Second-time mom also lets her youngest do things at a drastically earlier age than she ever would have allowed her first child.  Lollipops are a great example.  I never, ever gave Ty lollipops when he was a baby.  I feared for his teeth!  But by the time he was three, it happened sometimes.  Lollipops are everywhere and I had never even realized it!  So that meant Gavin was getting a lollipop, too – at 18 months – because you try prying that thing from his Viking grip when he comes across his brother’s leftovers.


I was a “stay at home” mom on extended maternity leave with Ty, then a “working mom,” then a “stay at home” mom again until Gavin was four months old.  Both moms deserve all the credit in the world and have no good reason to be in competition with one another.  Because it is hard work either way you look at it.  And both roles are rewarding in their own right.  When I was home all day, there were times I wanted to scratch my eyes out when I looked around the house to find nothing but messes with seemingly endless screaming crying in the background. I yearned to take a ½ hour shower, wear heels, and grab coffee with the girls at work.  Then there were times at work I wanted to scratch my eyes out when I was on my laptop at 1 in the morning, trying to make deadline after an especially difficult night with the babies.  I will say that my house was always cleaner as a working mom, though, because the kids were with the sitter during prime time.  There wasn’t much time in the morning or the evening for them to make a big mess because our lives were so incredibly rushed all the time.  There was never enough time to get ready in the morning and out the door on time, then in the evening it was a rushed “dinner/bath/bed” routine so I could get back on my computer and work some more once they were asleep.  Whenever I reflect on that, knowing now what I didn’t know then, I regret it.  I don’t regret working, I regret stressing over the job too much.  Allowing it too much weight in my very full life.

Sometimes I am guilty of being the “you’ll see” mom to my friends who do not have children, or those with babies much younger than mine.  Just wait until he turns two… you’ll see!  Or, wait until you have another one… you’ll see!  Please make me stop.  Hearing that is like nails on a chalkboard.  Especially when it’s coming out of my own mouth!

You all know I was a “cancer mom.”  Or, momcologist.  I watched the nurses like a hawk.  I learned every detail about every medication and a doctor couldn’t enter my room without being asked at least 5 questions.  I know acronyms for chemotherapy and the side effects of each.  I had a puke bucket on every table in the house and under each seat in my car.  I could help Ty as he got sick in the backseat without even missing a beat on the highway.  I knew when to worry and when not to worry – and cancer mom worry is totally different than “I think the poor little guy might be catching a cold” kind of worry.  It’s more like, “he’s been sleeping too long, it might be hydrocephalus.”  And I never had more guilt in my life.  I felt guilty for letting it happen.  Guilty for having to put Ty before Gavin.  Guilty for the inability to take away his pain.  Guilty that it was him and not me.  At the same time I was never more empowered.  We will beat this!  FU cancer, you will lose!  Superheroes, boxing gloves and gold ribbons filled my diaper bag alongside belly tubes, syringes, sanitary wipes, and about 30 different bottles of medication.  I never gave up hope because that would mean giving up on him.  Despite how painful those days were on multiple levels, we also made some of our most beautiful memories there and I long to go back with every ounce of my being.


I was a “special needs” mom.  Not just because Ty was sick, but because he became severely disabled as a result of his treatment.  For two years he couldn’t walk.  His speech was compromised.  He ate from a tube in his belly and he needed around-the-clock care.  For almost a year he could barely move his arms or hold his head up.  I fought for better treatment options.  I fought for therapy and for his education.  I felt the stares on the street and I used to prepare myself with what I would say if someone questioned me about pulling into a handicapped spot.  I can’t believe I used to worry about that, but I did.  I stressed over it because I knew to the average person it might look like I was just being lazy because I had a toddler in a stroller.  They wouldn’t know he was a disabled boy who preferred a stroller over a wheelchair.  I felt like I was constantly on the defensive and that is a terrible way to feel.  To all the special needs moms out there – you are incredible.  You are doing everything right and you don’t have to explain anything to anybody.  


I’m forever a bereaved mom, which in turns brings out “crazy mom” sometimes.  We all know her, but for a bereaved parent “crazy mom” can be really bad.  No sleep (like, none).  Or, do nothing BUT sleep.  I don’t want to talk to anyone.  My anxiety gets so high I chew the skin off my fingers until they bleed and have psoriasis of the scalp, which feels like my skin is literally crawling.  Crazy mom can’t listen to music because somehow every song is directed toward her and only her, making her either sad or mad.  I have a therapist and a psychiatrist and I’ve been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome, but they can't help me.  Nothing helps but time. And nothing will ever fill this void.

Which brings me to “mom on a mission.”  The only way I can cope with how much I miss my son is by throwing myself into the cause.  I need to do this to keep “crazy mom” at bay.  I need to do this because when I see this picture I want so desperately for the chance to fix him again.  And I can’t.  The other day I pulled this up on my screen and screamed out loud, over and over again.  “I want to fix you!!!  Why couldn’t I fix you!!  Feel better, baby, don’t cry, I can make it all better.”  I put my face next to the computer screen and tried to comfort him.  It is sad and it is desperate and it is my reality.  So I have to throw all of that energy into trying to fix him by fixing others like him instead.  This just can’t keep happening.  Someone, somewhere has to find a cure for these kids.


Today I often refer to myself as the “grandma” mom.  The warm, mushy, cheek-pinching grandma mom. That’s because I parent with more love than ever before.  I am weathered.  I am worn out.  But I am also wiser.  My emotional weight may rob me of the energy to chase after my son with vigor, but I watch every single thing he does with love and pride.  The way he props his head up on his hand when he’s getting full at the dinner table.  The way he listens so intently when we read a book.  The way he hates to be interrupted even if I know what he’s about to say.  The way he says "wee-memba" and "fwee-get" instead of "remember" and "forget."  I can’t hug him and kiss him enough.  When he is totally wild and crazy, I refrain from scolding and instead open my arms wider like a loving grandma.  “Get over here and give me a hug you crazy boy!” :)

Tonight I put him to bed because Lou was working late.  I always lay with him until he falls sound asleep because that’s what grandma moms do :)  We coddle.  After a few minutes he pulled me in closer for a snuggle until we were nose to nose so I whispered, “I love you.”
“I love you too.  More than anything.” He said.
Then, a little quieter, he reiterated, “Yeah.  More than anything.”  Within seconds his breath changed into the rhythm of deep sleep.  “Me too” I whispered.


Above all and despite everything, I am a “lucky mom"

41 comments:

  1. Thank you for always finding a way to make me grateful for all that I have, perfect in its' imperfection.

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  2. ...and a wonderful mom ~

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  3. I cry as I read this because I've become such a better mom because of you, because of Ty. I know how hard you work and the energy you put in to the Foundation and making a difference for other kids. I cry all the time for Ty - for the injustice of this. How I wish this never happened to all of you. I pray all the time that I could turn back time and make him all better. I can't do that so ill work along side you the best I can - grateful that I got to know you and your beautiful family. I'm forever sorry. I send you all peace and love. RIP Ty Louis Campbell - you have forever changed my life and I'll never forget you. Donna T.

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  4. I'm crying too. I agree -- you make me a better Mom and person...and it all seems so unfair yet you keep diving in. You are an amazing Mom to two lovely boys.

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  5. Beautiful. Thank you for making me a better Mom and human, Cindy and Ty.

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  6. You have an incredible gift with words. Thank you for continuing to share them with us. I love the last part about you and Gavin. Made me cry because you described lying like that with Ty many times but it is so sweet for you and Gavin too. You are an incredible mom - you forgot to list that.
    Jennifer

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  7. Cindy, you are gifted. Always leaving me deeply affected by your insight and wisdom. I see the makings of a great book on Mommatude. Gratitude for the never-ending gifts we mothers are given by our children, and of course by our God.
    Thank you. I pray that the strength of your words bring a cure for cancer.

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  8. Above all you are the "greatest, bestest, mom" The mom that could "move mountains" Never forget you are all that and more to your children, no matter how you might feel about yourself. Bottom line you are loved more than anything to your child just because you are you! (And you are beautiful!) XOXO

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  9. "Incredible Mom" That's how I see you...

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  10. Amazing post, amazing mom....I read it twice! laughed and cried.....

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  11. Will someone please give this girl a book deal? Her words have to get out there. Thank u for always reminding me what is important. Much love to you and your family Cindy. You are destined to do great things and I'm honored to be able to witness what's to come.

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  12. You forgot to mention that you are an EXAMPLE MOM to all the moms. You are an inspiration to everyone. I don't think anyone has ever taught me to appreciate the things that matter more than you did. It was always kind of obvious but I don't think I ever really realized it until your beautiful boy "came" into my life. Just like you I am a mom of 2 boys just 13 months apart, and I am a crazy, do it all myself, eat your vegetables and fruits, read a book an go to sleep on time type of a mom. But I am different becauseof you know. I am more in the moment with my kids kind of a mom. I am less worried about all materialistic things, I could care less that I don't go out or that I have never been away from my kids since I had them 6.5 years ago. You taught me things than even my mom didn't teach me. You taught me compassion on another level that I couldn't understand I had. You are amazing and it just sums it up. I know one day you will fix it! And Ty and Gavin know and believe in you. FU CANCER! FU EVERYONE WHO DON'T CARE OR JUDGES!

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  13. beautifully said CIndy! Hugs to you!

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  14. I have struggled with the fact that I am raising my two grandchildren, I've lost my "freedom" my "life". I started reading your post a year or so ago, and I realize that I in fact, gained my "freedom" and my "life" from these beautiful children. I would complain everyday about working and coming home to a 2 and 4 year old, but now I look forward to it. I am blessed that God gave me the opportunity to be in these childrens life.

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  15. Tears stung my eyes looking at that picture of Ty in pain. No child should ever have to endure that and I am so incredibly sorry that it happened to Ty. Mom to mom, I am 100% sure that your hugs and kisses were the best medicine he ever got... or needed. Hugs to you and your incredible fight and perseverance.

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  16. This post touched me deeply. well said. I am so sorry Ty had to endure so much pain. Pictures say a thousand words. Thanks for sharing

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  17. You and Lou are amazing parents. your boys are so proud of you as we all are, God Bless the Campbell family 🙏

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  18. Like everyone who reads your posts, you are an inspiration. Having suffered a loss last year I have been able to relate on some level, although my loss was not that of a child. When feeling bad I find myself thinking and holding onto words from a 60 minutes or CNN special (can't remember which one) on people who physically left this world and went to heaven for a brief time, and then came back. I was especially moved by the mother who had all the reasons in the world not to want to leave this life - great family, fulfilling career, happiness. But when brought to heaven for a brief time, she did not want to come back here - it was that powerful. No words could describe her overwhelming feelings of peace and happiness. Even though she was aware she was leaving her children and husband, she said she did not want to come back here! I believe that heaven is really that place but to actually hear someone say it and describe the beauty and peacefulness she felt it is comforting. Wishing you peace.

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  19. Absolutely beautiful...in tears at work to go straight home and snuggle my 2 boys...thanks you for your raw emotion...the world is a better place because of you and Ty ....sending lots of love

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  20. That was beautiful! <3 Thank you for being such an inspiration to all of us moms...its the hardest job in the world but it's also the most amazing. God Bless!

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  21. Your words are perfection, Cindy, and they touch me to my very core. xoxo

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  22. ...and a great Mom. Thank you for sharing your two beautiful boys with us.

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  23. I have been following your blog for a couple years and just wanted to tell you that this is one of my favorite posts. Well-written, honest and inspiring. You are making a difference to more people than you'll ever know.

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  24. So beautiful, so beautiful. You touch this moms heart. Thank you.

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  25. You are an unbelievable mom, and thank you for making me and many other better moms.

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  26. Simply beautiful! I love you and your family!
    Angela from Carmel :)

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  27. This was beautifully written! One of your most touching posts!

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  28. I absolutely loved this post. Thank you for writing it!

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  29. Reading you make us all be a mother-gandma moms...and admire our kids while they are deep asleep, and feel how lucky we are to have them beside us, and appreciate each sec as it it was the last one..

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  30. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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  31. Cindy, that picture of Ty crying has me sobbing. I couldn't help but kiss the screen and tell him how sorry I am. I feel for you every day. More than anything, you are an Amazing Mom. You are always in my prayers.

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  32. Oh Cindy, as always your words are so raw and honest, gut-wrenching--and beautiful. You somehow manage to capture emotions that are extraordinarily personal, yet anyone who reads them can relate. The enormity of your loss is something I can't pretend to understand but through your beautiful tributes to Ty I can empathize at a level so intense that I dream about your family regularly. As a writer myself, I think a collection of your blog posts about Ty and Gavin and your journey with Lou would make the most amazing, inspiring book. In time, I hope you'll consider it. (((HUGS)))) Love and Strength and Healing wishes your way.

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  33. You are the GREATEST mom I will probably ever know of, Cindy. Gavin is blessed and so was Ty.
    I have cried many tears for the injustice of all you have gone through and for losing Ty. Even though I do not know you personally, your experience has forever changed the way I think about cancer and how important it is to make people aware and to make a difference!
    Ty's existence changed many lives, Cindy, and your perseverence in his honor will undoubtedly pay off with advancements in pediatric treatment and cures.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Christine. After all this time reading your thoughtful comments, I disagree - I feel I DO know you personally - and you know me :) Thank you.

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    2. (((HUGS)) Love and light to you always. THANK YOU for opening my eyes.

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  34. You should write a book. You're so poetic when you talk about your children,it's just beautifully written. You're an excellent writer and an outstanding mom! TY is proud!

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  35. A true inspiration is what you are. I am certain you did not set out to be "that mom," but know that you are! No words, nor time will make it "right" but know that all who know you or know of you are praying for peace and strength in your life. You continue to touch so many and I thank you for your wisdom, compassion and grace. We continue to learn from you and fight the fight along side you! I am forever honored to spell my name the same as you, M-O-M. FU Cancer.

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  36. I would say you are an "amazing mom"!!! I can relate to so many of the "moms" you are and thank you for sharing! It's funny how being a "cancer & special needs mom" myself I still feel like the "luckiest mom" in the world! I now see that the littlest things in life are really the biggest & most beautiful ❤❤❤

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  37. Crying!
    You are a great mom!!!
    God bless

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