The following is a guest post by Jane Schwartzberg. Jane is a wife & mother SchwartzbergFam042of two diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. As a mother myself I find her story at once heart wrenching… and incredibly inspiring. She was recently interviewed on WFMZ 69News and I would highly recommend checking out her interview– she offers excellent advice on how to help others help loved ones and her grace and poise is immeasurable. You can find a copy of her book via Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

We are so quick to judge each other.  I think it’s the result of our innate need to be validated, to feel confident that our decisions are the right ones.  With parenting, this need is often stronger than anywhere else.  If we believe that somehow our intuition or brilliance drove us to the “right” parenting choice, it makes us feel good in the most important role any of us will ever have.  And we get to feel a little bit in control of the future if we think we are doing all the right things as Moms.  But what do we really know about what is behind anyone’s parenting decisions?

I am a mother of two gorgeous children, ages 7 and 10.  Jane Swartzberg_memeI also have been diagnosed with stage four incurable breast cancer.  I have spent plenty of time in medical facilities, in pain and under the care of a team of doctors.  Being a patient and taking care of myself now are a really big part of my life.  There have been many nights when I lay in bed, hoping and praying with every bone in my body that I will have the gift and privilege of being able to see our children through elementary school, middle and high schools and — dare I say it? — even being a part of their adulthood.  I don’t assume anything and I take none of my time here on Earth and with them for granted.

And yet, I choose to go to work every day.  People are often surprised and confused by this decision.  I have come to know the facial expression well: the one people make when they want to ask me “Why in the world would you ever go to work given your health status?”  What they really want to ask me is “Why don’t you stay home to spend more time with your kids?”

Naked_Jane_frontCoverRight now I have a choice because my disease is stable and I am feeling really well.  I proudly choose to go to work because I want and need to contribute financially to my family.  I also want my kids to see a mother who is going on with her life in the most “normal” way she possibly can — and that includes going to work outside of the home.  I want to show our kids, not just tell them, that we can all find our bearings and participate in life fully — no matter what we have endured.  I choose to work because being a working mom helps to make me a more focused, appreciative parent when I am with my incredible kids.Working outside of the home gives me a sense of self-esteem that I am confident makes me a better and more patient parent overall.

Jane Schwartzberg, 44, is the co-author of the newly released book Naked Jane Bares All, the many-layered story – told with humor and candor — of how she learned to embrace life when she was down for the count. Learn more at www.nakedjanebaresall.com.

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