He was my first baby and has been my son since he was 3 months old. We’ve had our ups and downs. Some quite painful. The diagnoses. The therapy. The raging tantrums. The many broken things. The IEP meetings. The side talks with teachers.
But oh how I love that boy! The kind of love that just hurts. Hurts for him when he struggles. But hurts too when there’s so much joy and I wonder why was I so blessed to be his mommy and why oh why must I screw it up for him so much. I ache when I see his baby pictures. Oh how I wish I could go back and do so many things over again. I wish so much I knew then what I know now. I just know I would have been a better mommy if I’d known about trauma, I think to myself often.
Of course it was a Sunday. We struggle on Sundays for various reasons. He’s 12 now too. He’s testing his boundaries in different ways. And this day he tried a new one. I was baking cookies and he’d been in his sister’s room. They began to fight as the norm goes in our house. The fighting quickly turned to awful mean spirited words and plain hatred for one another. I yelled out in an exasperated voice, “Just love her! Just love her!”
I thought I might be able to give some profound talk that would help his pre-teen/pre-verbal traumatized brain understand that love was an action, not a feeling and therefore ALWAYS a choice. But alas. It seemed I screwed it up again. The conversation spiraled and I heard these words for the first time come out of his mouth.
“Well, you’re not my real mom anyway.”
I laid the spoon and mixing bowl down and immediately walked to him to put my arm around his shoulders in hopes to say something to let him know it was safe for him to say those words to me.
But when he’s triggered, he runs. And that’s what he did. He gave his jumpy and agitated PTSD response as I approached as if I was about to harm him physically, and then he ran off.
I know not to run after him because he’ll just go further. And I also know he’s really still too fearful to go very far. So I just gave him time and space.
I knew he would never come to me and want to talk about it. I would have to go to him. A day or two passed. He curled up on my lap complaining of a sore throat and that let me know it was ok to bring it up.
“You know what you said to me the other day about me not being your real mommy? Do you really think that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did someone say that to you?”
“I don’t know. I just heard it from somewhere.”
“Do you think about being adopted a lot?”
“You know what real mommies do?”
I went on to tell him all about what a real mommy does. They change diapers. They feed babies. They put them to sleep. They cuddle. They teach them. They take care of them when they are sick. They fight for them. They love them. I did all those things for him and more.
“What do YOU call me?”
I brought up his birth mom and acknowledged who she was and is in his life and explained how he would have to work through how all this makes him feel and that it’s going to be a process that we want to help him with.
And then I said this:
No matter what other kids say, no matter what doubts you have, no matter what you call me now or later, no matter what you do or who you become, you, my love, my first born dear child of mine, are my REAL son. You will always be MY SON. No one will ever make me stop calling you my son. Not even you. Not now. Not ever.
As the story book goes that we’ve read so many times together….I love your top side, your bottom side, your mad side, your sad side. I love you through and through. Yesterday, today and tomorrow too. Because that’s what real mommies do.
Have you faced a similar painful experience with your child? How did you handle it? Share with us in the comment section below.