Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Filed under things they never tell you when you become a mother

I cried today. I felt the tears well up, drowning my vision in what ifs and what could have beens and a healthy dose of you were not enoughs.

He sat before me, alternately working his pen across the page and looking up at me, the mother. He told a story, an anecdote meant to comfort me, while his eyes darted to my son writhing in my husband's arms, my son in the grips of an unexplained urge to bolt. Our daughter lie on the table, clad in a diaper and a drool-filled grin. Patient. Waiting.

I'm sad. When I looked in his tiny eyes nearly 2 1/2 years ago vivid images of a laughing toddler, a boy curled up with a sleeping puppy, a young man proudly walking across a stage, a father cradling his child took up residence in my mind. My boy. My son. Those images are nothing but hazy reminders that I am not in control. That sometimes life renders you powerless.

The doctor gave us our referral. JR will soon be in therapy for a disorder I'm still trying to wrap my brain around. While I take comfort in a checklist of symptoms, I find I have more questions than I do answers--the questions are tiny voices echoing in my ears--"Is this my fault?" "Has my history inked itself upon your present, your future?" "How will I fix you?"

* * *

This is it. I gorged myself on optimism. This will work! Fresh lies pushed the nagging truths to the shadowy recesses of my brain. I will make this work. My conviction wallowed in fatigue, as did my body. I knew this was going to suck. Hope was nothing but a sucker punch.

He ran around the room. I introduced myself to the other mothers, pulling suckers out of my bag and watching as JR climbed the stairs, peered through the windows of a plastic house, and happily greeted the pretty girl who has become his best friend.

An unstructured art class. For toddlers. This was what JR needed. I just plunked down a small fortune to make it true. I tried preschool. Fail. I tried a gymnastics class. Fail. Playdates. Fail (mostly). This had to work.


He's such an awesome kid. He's charming. Engaging. He's learning new words and phrases nearly every single day. Do you know he can identify every letter of the alphabet? Maybe it's no big deal, but to me it is simply genius. He is so bright. But . . . he never, ever stops. Never. He lives by the credo- "Why walk when you can run?" His energy level is astounding, infectious, exhausting. But only at home, in a world carefully constructed by me, his mother, or in a world where there exist no walls, no hands pulling him back, no voices telling him NO, does he truly thrive.


The unstructured art class was my undoing. I was THAT mother of THAT child. With an infant in one arm, I raced after him as he headed for the door, the big room, the staircase. The other children crowded the easel, the bean table, the train set. Their parents sat with them, taking in the look of gleeful wonder that gilded their toddlers' faces.

Except for mine. He screamed. He writhed. He dropped to the floor. He wanted out. And so did I.

"Do you want me to take her while you handle him," her voice was kind, masking the pity she felt for me. I handed my baby girl to another mother, a stranger, so I could stop my son from running out of the room, up the stairs, and out onto the street.

We sat on the floor in the outside hall. I pulled him to me, willing him to be like the other children. Willing him to just stop.

"If he can't do it, that's OK," the teacher said to me in a hushed, yet supportive tone. I heard only, "Please don't come back, ever." I'm sure that's not what she meant. Actually, I'm not all that sure.

We left early, both of us empty and a little lost. I was too tired to be mortified. Too afraid to be angry. It didn't work and I had no idea how to fix it.


My daughter is six months old and today was her six-month check up. While I wanted so much to immerse myself in her growth, in her amazing development, I was lost in a haze of self-doubt, of worry, and of an undeniable fear for my son. I raced through the questions about my daughter, who gurgled and grinned her way through her exam. My hand rested on her soft belly, her fleshy legs kicking excitedly at my touch. But my focus was on the small piece of paper I had in front of me--a penciled in checklist of all the ways my baby boy was broken stared back at me.


I know every child is different. Evey child has his or her unique challenges. I don't seek platitudes or even heartfelt words of support and encouragement. I simply seek a soft place to land. For now. I want time to inhale and exhale. I want a few more minutes, hours, days to look at my son and not think therapy, disorder, referral, special, delayed . . . broken. I just want to look at him and feel the weight of his perfection one more time.

Truth. I'm broken. Yet I need no salve. No tape. No glue. No bandages. No glaring faces with a notepad and wire rimmed glasses. No labeled bottles filled with pills. No bottles filled with booze (not yet, anyway).

I just need to dry these stupid tears, yank up my mom jeans, and push on. Right? Because that's what we do. That's what I must do.

Because right now . . . he's alive. He's happy. He's healthy. And he's gonna be OK. Broken or not.

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
-Coldplay "Fix You"


Anonymous said...

I'm here. I'm always here.

My J bolted during the psych eval. When I caught him he said, "Momma. I'm scared."

I held him close and comforted him, but I was really thinking. "I am too."

I love you, L.

As Cape Cod Turns said...

Hang in there sweetie. Your writing is fabulous and heart breaking all at the same time. Pull up your mommy jeans and do what you have to do, but don't forget a little time for yourself.

Pam said...

wow! I'm so sorry for all that you are dealing with. I wish I had some words of wisdom, but at least know that I am thinking of you!

Mommy X said...

My heart goes out to you. Motherhood is the one thing that teaches us that we really don't know everything. I'm sorry you guys are going through this. If I was there with you, I'd hug you. Yet we've never met. So maybe that would be weird. Nonetheless, hang in there. We're all waiting to be judged at any moment for anything. It's humbling. You're doing the best you can and that's all you can do. XO

Wendi said...

Oh Laski!
Your words are truly poetic and yet my heart breaks for you.

Thinking of you...((hugs))

Kat said...

Okay, I'm emailing you right now.

Anonymous said...

I get so excited every time you post. Your words could have been said by me. I know I don't comment often, but we've been in contact via e-mail. You know my situation. I have so much more to say now that I know what you are struggling with. Please know I'm thinking about you and JR.

I'm e-mailing you now.

(Ethan's mama)

Sage Ravenwood said...

I won't say sorry. Not because I'm cold, because Jr. is your son and I know you will love him unconditionally.Sorry to me means a mistake or loss and that precious little boy is neither. My heart wishes it could wrap around you and protect you and your family from the probing and the questions.

I don't know what the future holds, all I can do is promise to be here, to listen and offer whatever comfort I may. Life is often unfair in that we are sometimes given more than we can handle, all we can do is even out the balance with love. (Hugs)Indigo

Tara R. said...

I do know how you are feeling and I'm here if you need a understanding shoulder. It can get terribly overwhelming and you MUST take care of yourself too. Find someone you can talk to, it will be important.

Your son will have the best advocate in you and his dad. Fight for him even when it seems no one is listening.

MommyTime said...

Not wanting to offer platitudes that seem trite, I will simply say that I feel deeply for you and am sending supportive thoughts.

Kamis Khlopchyk said...

This is so tough, L, my heart is hurting for you. JR is not broken. NO. I will never believe that someone is broken just because they don't fit a mold.

My oldest had great difficulty at 2 and half too. He hated any kind of structured class. With time, he has grown to love them. I really worried about him because he couldn't deal with changes to routine and school, while it contains lots of routine, does require flexibility. He is now in grade 3 and thriving. I am not saying his situation is the same as JR's but I just want to give you hope. He is still so young, he's still figuring things out. He'll get there.

Pull up those jeans honey, he is awesome in every way and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

Unknown said...

He's not broken. He's special. He's super. He's smart and curious and as soon as he 'gets' one thing he's ready to move on to the next. His mind is operating at a million miles an hour when the rest of us are doing 40.

He is not broken. We just don't know how to challenge him, keep up with him, guide him or ask him to slow down and let the rest of us catch up.

I hesitated to write this - but I looked through the comments and I realized I had to.

S said...

oh, l.

he's gonna be fine. his own kind of fine, but fine.

i know that you are a kick-ass mother and will get through this.

but for right now, i am sorry. i wish i could offer you some tea or coffee, and we could sit, just sit, and i could listen, and honor your sorrow, expressed so beautifully here.

so much love to you.

maggie, dammit said...

[sitting here, in this beautiful space, with you.]

aggmommy said...

JR broken? Not a chance. Never.

He is light and love and all things good in this world. And I love him...and am SO happy he shares my world. AGG agrees...

And you, L...I'll help you carry the load when it gets too heavy.

Lucky~that's what JR is. Lucky in ways too numerous to name.

April said...

According to all of the experts, our family is broken, too. And we are also happy and healthy. Much love to you.
And might I just add that this was written so beautifully!

Pregnantly Plump said...

I am so sorry that your family is going through this. But I agree with the others that your wonderful little boy is not broken. I'm sort of speechless. Wish I knew something wonderful and consoling to write.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I am sure you will deal with this with the strength and love that shines through when you write about your children.

My heart is with you.

Eve said...

I haven't been here in a long time. Always enjoyed reading your blog because of the overwhelming, perfect love you showed for your son. I don't know if that is relevant at all but I wanted to say it. My children have some learning difficulties & I constantly feel guilty that it is because of something I did or didn't do. After reading this, I no longer think this is true.

Cecily R said...

First of all, it's been ages since I was here...since I did any real blog hopping. The last year has been a blog blur. I am so sorry I haven't been a better friend, online or not.

Your number is still saved in my phone. You should use mine sometime when you need a chat. Not that I can give you any real advice. But we can talk.

I think you are pretty amazing.

Zoeyjane said...

Everyone's said the right things, so I have nothing original to offer except to say that I have been there, looking, wishing, seeing what ifs and is nots pass before my eyes.

Lou has it the rightest. He's not broken, he's stupendous. But you need a break, to be able to see it from the outside and to rest your worried mind. Take care of you, hun.

I'm always around, if you want another shoulder. They're bony, but strong.

Mr Lady said...

Oh, no. I'm so sorry for you, for this. I can't even imagine.

Bon said...

he is. and you love him. i am sorry for how hard this must be, very much. but i feel your love for him as clearly as the fear and guilt in all those words...and i wish you courage and strength as you continue to love him through this.

Anonymous said...

you are being thought of in this journey. we all want our kids to be normal. but, what is normal? you will find your family's version of normal at your pace. im sure you are a great mom who will go to all lengths to do what you can for your kids. never give up on that (or yourself!)
hang in there!!

Elan Morgan said...

This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday -

Barb Brooks said...

So glad someone nominated this post for Five Star Friday, so I got to read it. My heart is with you.

My son was 5 when an evaluation turned up the possible diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. He had the energy you describe in your JR, though he is not the same. Group activities were okay...sometimes. And I know well how it feels to be the mom of THAT CHILD.

Not trying to say I know how you feel - I can imagine some of it but your experience is your own. Our children are so fortunate to be not-typical in a time when we can understand more about how they think and learn, and how their differences can be awesome gifts even if sometimes they seem to be obstacles.

I hope you will keep writing about the journey, for your sake, for mine, and for the sake of so many moms and dads who need to know they're not alone.


Momisodes said...

My heart aches for you as I read your words here. I cannot even imagine all that you are going through as a mom. Please know that you are in my thoughts.

Corey~living and loving said...

Written in such a way, one simply can not just read and walk away the same person. Truly meaningful, and I for one am a better person for having read it. ♥ Thank you!

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

He is not broken and neither are you.


I am thinking of you and I know you're going to work through this however you can.

flutter said...

SO much love to you

Kristen said...

Oh L. Reading this just sends chills up my spine. My heart so aches for you. Know that little J is not broken, and neither are you. You will all find a way through all of it. I wish I had the words to say.

Just know prayers are being sad in AZ for you and your little family.

painted maypole said...

oh. i have no words.

Karen said...

Oh, hon. There's so much that I could tell you. So much that I won't. But know this; sometime after the bitter truth has become an unwelcome part of your life, you'll realize that J is still your little boy no matter what label he has. You'll realize that your love for him is all that you'll ever need to get through anything.


Anonymous said...

My heart is breaking for you. I am sorry you have to go through this. It's not supposed to be this hard!

I have read several other mommy blogs lately that are similar (obviously I don't know exactly what he's been diagnosed with) and off the top of my head, some moms had good luck with changing diet. Cutting out all food dye (especially Red Dye #40 and Yellow food dye); aspartame; high fructose corn syrup; and some even went as far as cutting out gluten. Recently I also read that yeast and gut bacteria can cause similar symptoms to what you describe.

Very best of luck. Your son isn't broken, as Lceel said.

tiarastantrums said...

I agree with LceeL - so NOT broken!!
My son was diagnosed with 'possbile autism', severe feeding disorder, severe speech disorder, severe sensory integretion disorder at 2 years old. we did INTENSE therapy for a full 12 months! Today at 8 years old . . . HE.IS.A.GENIUS! Literally, talented and gifted program testing at a 5th grade level (he is a 2nd grader). You wait - yours will be too! He happens to be gifted - I swear - you will see. Thus his adventurous spirit right now - his brain is MILES ahead of his body!

jenn said...

What a beautiful post. It's a lot to deal with, but you're doing it beautifully. said...

Honey, honey... I love you and I know that you are going to make things work for him. I don't know what their diagnosis is, but please keep in mind that nothing psychological is concrete or constant. Especially in a child. If you ever need to talk to a mom who has been on that side of the table, you can email or call me. I am mother to an almost 11 year old whose young years were NOT. EASY. I had the one that other parents looked askance at and he's pretty close to normal right now.

Sending you hugs and lots of love...

Flea said...


Nothing else. Just hugs.

Liz said...

A friend of mine pointed me here. She told me I could have written this post. While I'm not so sure I could ever articulate it as well as you, we share the same story.

I'll send you my e-mail.

Liz said...

Still here, babe, if you need to talk.

Anonymous said...

I love Tiaras' words. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping you and your family are doing well.

Momo Fali said...

I have been there...I'm still there in so many ways, but my son (almost eight) has come farther than we ever thought he would. I'm sorry for what you're dealing with. My hope for you is that you, too, will look back and see that he has come so far.

Penny said...

you put into words my emotions about my adhd son. thanks!


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