I've juggled around with the various hats that I wear before so I know the score. It's akin to playing the same part in a play for a decade and then one night before curtain call someone changes the script.
The last time was about 16 months ago when I took some time out of everyday life. I boarded a plane in Brisbane, flew to the other side of the world and spent a month making my own decisions.
As I prepared and packed for that trip there were lots of mixed emotions. I felt that every item going into my bag was emblazoned with the word "me". I had lovely supportive friends who were excited for me but in my head I heard it differently. My core instinct for the last twelve years was being shifted. My 'mother' hat was still in that bag it's just that the 'me' hat had bright neon lights on it!
By the time I was crossing the Arabian Sea I was just about beginning to let go of the guilt and look forward to the discovery. I slept on the plane (better than I do at home!) and I spent time contemplating.
I wore lots of hats during that month away - daughter, friend, independent traveller. I had the best time and a holiday where I truly relaxed. It was a chance to press the pause button for a while.
Technology makes the world a very small place and time differences aside I still parented from a distance. I shared the stories about school camp, dancing lessons, getting into the netball team, forgotten lunch boxes. Life in my Australian home didn't really change... I just wasn't there in the moment to live it or worry about it.
Back in Brisbane I fell back into my world.
The suitcase went to the back of the wardrobe and the neon light on the 'me' hat got switched off.
I'm not complaining - that's life. I wouldn't swap a lot of mine.
Then a long term health issue started to bother me and the prospect of needing to take a step away from things was a real possibility. I needed that 'me' hat again. I pondered and pondered some more and I dithered. I made a decision and changed my mind. Once my consultant mentioned the words - second opinion, referral and oncologist in the same sentence I stopped dithering.
I filled the freezer, I made lists, I organised my work commitments, I cleaned and scrubbed like the queen was coming to tea! I did so much in the week before surgery that I seriously couldn't have fitted anything else in if I tried.
I was exhausted and then I had horrible morbid thoughts at 4am that made me even more exhausted. I was almost looking forward to the operating table just to have a proper sleep!
I then let go of every... single... hat...
On Monday I had some surgery and on Friday I was told my pathology results were clear.
I was nothing for almost a week. I didn't realise that I was in such a limbo until Friday afternoon. By Friday evening in my head I had "recovered".
Well, not quite....
I should probably enjoy this time. I know how important it is for me to rest to recover and I am doing it. (I also know my mother wants to jump on a plane so I have to re-assure her that I really am doing the right things. Mam - I promise.)
Being at home and not being in control is a strange feeling though. I have to consciously give myself lectures about things like not picking up the stray pony tail band on the floor - it was yellow and it was there for 24 hours and nearly drove me insane!!
I'm not naive enough to think that life is a 'one hat on, one hat off' game. We all multi task, we all take on different roles at different times and I just have to adopt in this theatre where I'm typecast as homemaker.
It's unbalancing but I'll find a pretty ribbon and tie it around my 'me' hat in a big knot under my chin