On being a mom

I tell each of my kids that they are my favorite.

They know it. It’s something we laugh about. They enjoy it. And they know I say it to the other two.

Each one of them is my favorite.

My little one is my favorite to cuddle with, to chat with, to just hang out and play legos or Rat-a-tat-cat with.

My oldest, my girl, is my favorite to go shopping with, to watch movies with, to get our nails done and to have long conversations about life and relationship dynamics and friendship and surviving high school.

And my middle child, my mirror, my intense one…who was intense to be pregnant with, was an intense little baby, an incredibly willful toddler and now is a teenager…two years ago I might have secretly admitted that he actually was my favorite. I get him, in a way I don’t get the other two. We speak the same unspoken language. Or we did. Or maybe we still do, but I don’t want to speak the language he is speaking now.

The language of truth.

The language of hate.

My mirror hates me.

He has been angry since the divorce.

As he gets bigger, so does his anger.

As he gets smarter, so does his ability to verbalize the complexity of his anger.

He doesn’t want to come to my house.

He doesn’t want to live in two houses.

He wants to stay at Dad’s.

He hates my house.

And he makes everyone else miserable when he is here. Increasingly so.

Oh the things he says to me. It’s horrifying.

Unbelievable.

Unless you are a parent, then you know. Cause this is the part of parenting you can’t comprehend until you live it. No one warns you about this part.

The way a child can break your heart, in a way no one else can. Your children are a piece of you, they live inside you. It just is that way. And when they push hard enough, they can destroy you from the inside out.

And it’s hard.

A few days ago, when I was, once again, having the “please don’t talk to me that way, it’s disrespectful and it’s not ok” conversation for the 300th time he responded with:

“I hate it here, I don’t want to be here.”

And I said, “where do you want to be?”

“At dad’s, I want to be at Dad’s.”

And for the first time in over 2 years, I said ok.

And I took him back to his dad’s.

Where he stayed. Where he is now. I guess where he’ll be. Hopefully not forever, but possibly.

The other two assure me they aren’t going anywhere. They are fractured without their brother. But they promise me they won’t follow him. I hope they won’t.

There is a line in the play August Osage County where Barbara says, “Thank God we can’t tell the future, we could never get out of bed.” I think it’s certainly true of parenting. If you knew, in advance, how deeply you would love your children and how dangerous that love can be when your children hurt you…often purposely, would you do it?

Would you be a mom?

As I write this, with a heavy heart, the answer is still yes.

Absolutely yes.

Without a doubt, yes.

And when my favorite child is ready to come back, I will be here with open arms. To continue loving him up close.

Right now, I have to love him from a distance. Because that’s what he wants from me. It’s what he needs. I know he loves me. So I will wait.

That’s what being a mom is.

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A hug from my boy.

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The Dark Side of Christmas

I work for an organization that takes care of children in the “system”, foster care, juvenile probation…that system. These kids have had a difficult upbringing.

That’s putting it lightly.

What they have suffered, I choose not to imagine. Although sometimes in my job I have to describe it, I choose not to think about it and just see them as kids. Tough kids, but kids all the same.

Christmas is a rough time for them. Staff is on high alert to look for signs of extreme depression, signs of suicide or runaways. Kids miss their families at Christmas. Many of the same families that abused them, neglected them, left them feeling unloved and unvalued.

And yet they miss them. They long for them. Even though Christmas is reportedly a very dangerous time for children who live with abusers, abuse goes way up at the holidays. Stressed parents, lots of alcohol, families packed into houses together, children home from school. It’s a dangerous time for abused children.

Christmas is filled with memories, many of them painful.  But they still long for them. In spite of it all.

The world, the loving, caring, giving world wants to help.

At Christmas they want to have parties and give presents.

There are so many parties for the kids.

And it’s good and the kids love it. And the givers feel like they are doing something, some tiny thing, to heal the brokenness.

But the kids know it’s only for the month of December and the parties will stop.

The presents will stop.

And they will go back to being alone, abandoned, neglected, unwanted.

It’s sad.

Christmas doesn’t make it less or more sad.

It’s just a holiday. A date on a calendar.

But something about it feels exposing. Like we are simply trying to cure a disease by putting a band-aid on it. And it doesn’t help. The band-aid wears off. The disease remains.

Circle back now to me, Lady blogger sitting alone in her house at midnight, watching the clock, knowing the alarm is going to ring in just over 5 hours for the start of a busy workweek.

What am i doing awake?

I am sitting here, dreading Christmas. ‘

I am dreading Christmas.

Post divorce Christmas.

Three beautiful kids, who just want the old family back, the one they used to know, the one who had Christmas all together in one house. But now there are two houses, two trees, two stockings, two parents desperately wanting to make kids happy without the ability to give them what they really want.

The old life.

They are angry. They have a right to feel that way, to a certain extent, to be angry about their circumstances.

Although when I think about the kids who live within “the system” who would give anything for one stable household to live in, I get frustrated with my kids and their spoiled, ungrateful behavior.

But the pain my kids feel isn’t any less real to them. It’s valid and it matters.

I owe it to them to respect it and allow them to feel what they need to feel.

So I will.

Let them feel it.

It’s our disease, their anger and my guilt.

I will step back and try to have as lovely a Christmas as I can. I will remain cheerful and loving, with occasional glimpses of frustration…I am, after all, a regular human being.

We decorated the tree. I put up lights on the house.

I have put lots of energy into picking out a selection of fun and exciting presents for under the tree. I spent a little more than I should have but nothing obscene.

We will bake cookies on Christmas Eve, which I will likely burn cause I suck at baking.

The gingerbread man will look slightly deformed. That’s how I roll. And we will laugh about it.

But they will miss their dad and they will be slightly bitchy because of it.

I know that every year it will get better. This is the 3rd Christmas but the first year with a completely separate Christmas. It’s time.

My head knows that this is reality. And it’s real and it’s ours and it’s really not so bad. It’s good actually.

Pretty fucking great.

My head knows.

Completely.

But my heart, it’s kind of dreading Christmas.

And I wonder, how many people feel this way?

For how many other people out there is Christmas a time of fighting off the darkness?

I bet it’s a lot.

I don’t have the answers.

Only questions.

How’s that for Christmas cheer?

Pass the eggnog…

(also, does anyone really like eggnog? I think it’s weird, a really weird drink)