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.
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.
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.