“it’s too fit… Maelle pants”, my son tells my husband early one morning as my husband tries to get him ready for school. Ian laughs as he tries to remove the “shorts” he has some how squished our son into. It turns out what he believed to be Elliott’s navy blue shorts are actually my daughter’s pants. The reason they are “to fit” (don’t fit) is that they are sized 3 to 6 month which is quite small for a 3 year old.
This incident began eight months ago as I ambitiously sort through bins of clothing Elliott has out grown, looking for anything that could be worn by his new baby sister. I was able to weed out some jeans and navy blue cargo pants. Only by close inspection can you see that the pants have betraying elements only found in boys clothing.
After I was diagnosed with breast cancer my role as main laundry folder has been gladly handed over to various members of our support system. The betraying male elements of Maelle’s pants have led one of our helpers to believe that they were Elliott’s shorts. As a result they were folded and placed in my sons drawer for my unsuspecting spouse to take out and pry on our son. Not only did they end up in my sons drawer but a pair of hand me down overalls ended up in Elliott’s daycare bag. I can only imagine what his teacher was thinking as she tried to squeeze him into Maelle’s tiny overalls after he peed his pants.
Cancer has given me a new perspective on parenting. I have had to relinquish control over the details of my children’s lives. I’m not sure if this is a bad thing. Balancing parenthood with cancer treatment, doctor appointments and side effects has required our friends and family to be intimately involved with our family and daily life. As a result, both Maelle and Elliott end up being parented and loved by a community that stretches far beyond their parents.
We have effectively began to broaden our definition of what constitutes a family. Our family is now a network of friends, co-workers, neighbours and extended family. Although loss of control is one of the hardest things that cancer has forced us to do along this journey, I somehow think the resulting expansion of family has brought a greater sense of humility to our lives. It has shown us so many different faces and expressions of love and trust.