Today I am THAT mother.
I am that mother who cries in the staircase worried that I am just completely failing my child and making a mess of things. He cries and it grates on my nerves. He cries and flips because there is a paper bag on his seat and somehow he can't figure out to put it in the front or on the floor and it is SO frustrating. You are smart, I say, please use your brain and figure it out. And I get to listen to him talk about how his life is hard and awful and he cries and I am so annoyed and then suddenly he is talking about how his grandpa died last month and he is sad and he loved him. And how can I not feel like a total asshole in that moment? At the same time, how can I reconcile that he has the same emotional reaction to things on such different levels?
Today I am that mother who goes online and reads. Checklist after checklist and I knew this day would probably come with Sam, but knowing how to parent a child with ADD and help them be successful is something new. I don't know how to do it, or where to begin. He tells us that he is not getting a good enough education and that learning is hard and I know it is time. He has always been different, but the day has come where it is really affecting him and it is time for more labels, more accommodations.
Today I am that mother who struggles with the concept of raising a special needs child. In some ways, he seems so normal, but in other ways it is so difficult. I struggle with the idea of placing labels and demanding more, of where to push and where to know his limits. I struggle with the accepting that just because he does not have ASD or Down's Syndrome or FAS doesn't mean that he doesn't have SOMETHING and that it is okay to realize that it's a challenge. And that those challenges don't mean that he can't do things, they just mean that he might need to do things a little bit differently.
Today I am that mother who feels not good enough. I sit and think and I feel like I am complaining too much, that I should be able to handle all of this, and that I'm not doing a good enough job. I cry and I text my boyfriend, why can't I just fix this, why don't I know how to help him?
Today I am that mother who yells. Because I just can't handle being yelled at, whined at, talked down to one more fucking time. It takes something out of me that I know a kid can't understand so I push back and whine whine whine. Then I yell and finally he complies and does something for himself for once and I don't want to yell but if that is how he hears me sometimes I don't know how else to make him get it.
Today I am that mother who feels embarrassed. That I have a son who is 9 and in pull ups and yes he has encopresis but that isn't all, because I think that isn't the worst of it, the APATHY is. How do you make a person care? You can't. I know he needs help, but how do I know who can help him? I found a therapist I liked, but it took talking to several who were no help first and I so don't want that for Sam.
Today I am that mother who feels the mom guilt in full force. Because maybe if I didn't have to work so much it would be better. Because today I sat in my car for 20 minutes before picking my kids up from after school care. Because sometimes when I am wiping my tears on my sleeve as I cook the same dang mac and cheese I can't wait for bedtime. Because I will always love my kids but I have moments where I just wonder if it will ever be easier, if one day I won't have to wipe anyone else's butt and just for a moment I don't like being a mom.
Today I am that mother who feels helpless because for the second day in a row there was a note at after school care, one about being upset and one about refusing to do what he was supposed to. And I know that what shows on his surface is just the top layer and that his feelings are complex and probably sometimes confusing. They just want to help him, they want to support him, and they turn to me and I don't know what to tell them.
Today I am that mother who feels the mama bear inside, who has notes and quotes and links and plans. I am that mother that will once again walk in to the school with requests and actions in hand and advocate for my child's education.
Today I am that mother who wonders how she got here, who never planned to be a single mother. This journey has been hard, harder than anything I could have imagined. And I feel guilty for that part of my brain that rages and says THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED, because I am not saying that I don't love my kids, or want to mother them, but I was never supposed to be doing this alone.
Today I am that mother who falls asleep putting the kids to bed, who drifts off to sleep remembering that tomorrow is another day, and probably a better one. Who lays next to her almost-adult-sized child, with her arm around his waist, feeling his warmth and listening to the soft shush of his sleepy breathing. The house is quiet, and the day is done. And I know that today is just that, today. It is not tomorrow, it is not every day. We will sleep, we will dream, and we will wake, and begin again.