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Diary of the Dying: Do all mothers feel guilty every day? Or is it just me?

Ana Ferguson is 44 years old. She’s got 4 kids. And she’s dying.

She has stage four breast cancer, and she doesn’t know how long she’s got left on this planet – but lucky for us, she wants to spend some of that precious time writing.

So, we’re bringing you Diary of the Dying. A place where Ana will share her fears, her days, and her astonishingly candid thoughts on life and death. We’re honoured that she came to us with this idea, and so excited to publish her words.

Every single person reading this will be touched by cancer, in some way. This series is for them. It’s for everyone who’s lost someone. It’s for those who have gone. And, most of all, it’s for Ana.

This is Ana’s second post for Mamamia. 

By ANA FERGUSON

Picture me back in 2003. My nickname was Mother Earth, and I was still trying to be that perfect mother we all aspire to.

I had a new born babe swaddled to my chest suckling, with a 20-month-old (little Jo) perched effortlessly on one hip. I did all of this while peacefully negotiating the task of podding the fresh peas (I was a scene straight out of Little House on The Prairie). And supervising a healthy made-from-scratch cake between my two other loving daughters, Charlie, 3 and a half, and Maddie, 8.

Their paintings were drying on the porch next to their bikes and the triple-decker pram and each evening I would feed, bath and put all my perfect angels to be bed and not even break a sweat. Their loving Dad came home, read them a story and kissed them Goodnight. Damn it, in hindsight I was good, and I was proud of myself.

Fast forward to 2014, and I am channelling Eddie from Ab Fab more than Mother Earth (except without the bubbles).

I have given up trying to be a perfect mother. I have given up on beating myself up. I have given up on the “poor me” chorus.

Chasing that served me no purpose other than to make me feel even more miserable. And I don’t think you have to be dying, like I am, to know what I’m talking about here: Mama Guilt.

You see, I am a great believer that we all have a choice each day to decide if our day is going to be a Glass Half Empty or a Glass Half Full kind of day. That’s why — as I told you in my last blog — I wake up every morning to the sound of Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

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But if I’m honest with myself (and you), I haven’t been able to completely shake the Mama Guilt. I honestly don’t think any mother – dying or not – ever gets over it.

I am riddled with it through every cell of my being. Actually I think the guilt Pacman machine is eating up more cells than the cancer. I’m working on it, and letting go of that guilt is a work in progress for me.  Maybe I should follow an old friend’s advice – she says that each time you feel you stuff up as a parent, you should put $1 in a jar and when the kid turns 18 and starts blaming you for everything, you give them the jar and tell them to go deal with it! You did the best you could.

My least favourite thing to say to my kids is NO. But I have to do it all the time now. No, I can’t do something like go for a surf or swim. No, I can’t hang with them and play cards or sit in front of the TV.  No, I can’t stop them having to watch their mama live with this illness.

Quite frankly, that makes me feel like a failure. More often than I’d like to admit. I want to be able to do normal everyday things with my kids, and I want to protect them from seeing this illness take me.

My kids never asked to have a mother like this, nor did they deserve it. Excuse my French and my pride but my girls are bloody magical. They deserve the world on a platter with a silver spoon in their mouth, all that good stuff.

The fact of the matter is, it has been a hard gig for them and yes it will get harder. Every kid has challenges – watching me and cancer is just theirs. Maybe the best way to deal with my guilt is to keep giving them that Glass Half Full attitude – only now it’s less red wine, more green juice.

And maybe, just maybe, every mum feels that way. The working mum, the sports mum, the social mum, the charitable mum, the sick mum and the dying mum. Is that right? Am I normal here?

Ana Kitson Ferguson is a Mother or 4, Wife, and jack of all trades Blogger, Wellness Advisor, Integrated Medicine Cancer Advocate, Cancer Treatment Researcher, Business Woman and has been living life to fullest with Stage 4 Breast Cancer for the last 3 years. Ana shares her story through her blog and provides cancer consulting as well as recommended products that assist her in her day to day dance. For more information go to www.savingana.com 

To read Ana’s first post for Mamamia, click here. 

Check back in every second Thursday for more of Ana’s Diary of the Dying. 

Tags: motherhood , health-and-wellbeing
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