When Benjamin was a toddler, we went through long stretches of time where, simply put, his father and I overdid it with him.
I'm not talking about material possessions, although Benjamin did not lack for books and toys. Nor am I talking about signing him up for too many activities.
What I mean is that far too often, we expected a very young Ben to confirm his needs and wants and schedule to our adult ones. Drive an hour and a half to visit friends? No problem! Put off lunch or supper for an hour or more because it was more convenient for us? Piece of cake!
In looking back, the results of these and similar choices were predictable. Ben, who by nature was a very easy going, low maintenance, gentle child, would become stressed and unhappy. Tears, complaints, wild sobbing, and ultimately a complete and total meltdown would invariably happen. And each time, after frantically patching up the situation, my then spouse and I would say "we overdid it with Ben. We pushed him too far. Let's not do that again."
You'd think I'd have learned my lesson almost three decades later.
I have recently started traditional chemotherapy, "traditional" in that I go to the infusion center and sit for two plus hours having toxic chemicals pumped into me. Two days a week, three weeks in a row. Rinse and repeat.
I am tolerating chemo fairly well, all things being equal. It could be a lot worse.
But I am overdoing it.
Living with a cancer that is making slow, inexorable progress, I keep dialing back what I do and how much I do. The chemo is a game changer for how I feel and how much I have left to spread around, no question about it.
But I haven't yet gotten the hang of dialing back, even on chemo days.
On chemo days, I have to factor in extra downtime. But I don't. On chemo days, I have to factor in feeling really mediocre. But I don't. And overall I have to readjust my expectations and schedule for the rest of the week. And guess what? I don't, at least not consistently and not very well.
This explains why the other night I was eating a quick supper at a Culver's after 8:00 p.m. an hour from home, and why, by the time we got home, I'd been gone for five hours straight (on a chemo day, no less).
Don't get me wrong. It was a good way to spend those five hours, going with Warren to a drumming session and participating in the same. But by the time I crawled into bed with chills and aching joints, all I could think of was Ben and overdoing it over and over and over again with him. Had I been that long ago toddler, I'd have been sobbing myself to sleep, wondering why no one was taking care of me. I'd be wondering what I had to do to right the day gone so wretchedly wrong.
But I am not that toddler. At fifty-nine and a half, there is no one—no inadequate caregiver, no lax parent—to blame other than myself. No one. So if I fall into bed hours too late, or fail to cut back on my schedule, or neglect the little blinking "OVERDONE IT" signs lighting up my day, well, it is a lesson I sorely need to learn anew.
Let's hope the lesson sticks one of these times.