All Posts, Faith, Family, Motherhood, Suffering

The Mustard Seed Mum: When Mummy’s Sick

I’m not a mummy blogger with Pinterest boards of fun activities to do, Instagram stories of days out with my two little ones or a YouTuber with life advice on how to survive those early months and years. The Mustard Seed Mum is just my corner to reflect on motherhood and share it with anyone who hangs around long enough. It’s a hard calling to raise little ones, but thank goodness I have a Heavenly Father who parents me as I seek to parent my own children. He sees my tantrums behind closed doors, He encourages me to trust Him when things are tough and He loves me enough to direct my steps with grace, discipline and compassion. I look to Him for help (Psalm 121:2).

New life in the shadow of suffering

Having another baby was and is a blessing to us. Anna is the complete opposite of her brother, sleeping well from the first night and ever since. As I type this, I am aware that I take that for granted. Sleep deprivation was a killer. However, the mercy of having a sleeping baby was desperately needed for this season. Two weeks after having Anna, I was doing a night feed and randomly felt my neck. There was a lump. That lump turned out to be a relapse of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a blood cancer that I had when I was 19. Everything shifted from what was meant to be a wonderful celebration, which it still was, to the uncertainty of what was to come and the fear of the unknown.

Welcoming a new baby meant a shift in the dynamic of our family. Jonathan had just turned three and seemed to adjust well to the change. However, having to share his space as well as his parents, he now had to get used to Mummy going out for regular hospital appointments too. I would lose my hair, but he was so accepting (kids are, aren’t they? They don’t worry about the same things we do…). The chemo made me feel tired and yucky, so he climbed in bed with me. I couldn’t be the fun Mum and take him out places, but others stood in the gap for me and we continued to bond at home. He had this sensitivity and compassion toward me that blessed my Mummy heart, even as I was doing my best to reassure him, in all of the unknowns that lay ahead.

We would read Old Bear by Jane Hissey most nights. I soon got so familiar with it that my mind would drift as I read to him. These thoughts were intrusive such as, ‘what if you won’t be there to watch him grow up?’, ‘how are you going to manage having a transplant with two small children in a pandemic with little help?’, ‘how will you cope with feeling unwell but still have to be strong for the children?’ The thoughts went on and on and they still do at times. Even though I felt weak in body, mind and spirit, I was reminded of (and continue to be reminded of) 2 Corinthians 12:9-11:

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’

Numbering our days and walking by faith

Looking back, it seemed an impossible situation. Yet day by day, we walked in faith as a family. We learnt what it meant to live a day at a time. It opened our eyes to the fragility of life and our eventual mortality. I read somewhere that we are all just one aneurysm away from death. Brutal, but true. We live our life thinking we have the next however many years in front of us. It’s a nice zone to live in, but it’s not the reality. None of us know how long we have. It’s not a morbid statement. It’s the truth. Even this Covid-19 virus is a reminder that illness and death can happen to any one of us at any time. I am living proof of that. It’s rare for late relapses in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma to happen, but they still happen.

What I am learning is that weakness is an invitation to surrender, not defeat.

Big life changes are an opportunity to trust God and walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Weakness is an invitation to surrender to the Lord who is good and merciful through it all. He is my Father and I am His child. As I wrap my arms around my children in love, He is doing the same to me. I still wrestle with the pain and uncertainty of it all. I have to assess my heart and address questions like do I really believe in what Jesus did for me? Do I believe that He loves me? Do I believe that I have an eternal home waiting for me? Yes. I believe. I am trusting the Lord to help me in the hard times when doubt and fear rise in my heart. As the apostle Peter said to Jesus, ‘“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69 ESV).

Other posts in The Mustard Seed Mum series: