When your entire family resides in the super duper industrial sized state(otherwise known as Texas) and you reside in a smaller, greener, hipsterer state(Oregon) travel becomes a familiar routine. When you’re forty almost five. When you’re five and a half, it’s more of a familiar chaos. Seeing different people you know and love in various settings around said state. Different houses, beds, configurations of big people and smaller big people. Different rules and regulations in each different setting. Different time zone. Different foods, routines, activities.
It’s a lot. We go because we love our family. It’s awfully hard to be so far from those that share your blood, even if you’re surrounded by those who share your heart and your life. If we don’t go, we don’t see them. Busy jobs, busy school and a busy schedule full of activities. So we go, twice a year, sometimes more. Because a little is better than none and traveling is better than not.
We traveled now to be here when my step-brother married his luminous bride. The wedding was sweet and funny and endearing, just like them. Lucky for me, it was also short, as most wedding ceremonies are. The luck pertains directly to the length of time my overstimulated, under-slept wild child would stay in the house alone playing on the iPad while we witnessed two lives further melded to the same life path. The length turned out to be just enough.
The night before, not so much. The rehearsal-ish dinner proved to be a bit more than the kid could take. There was constant movement, constant activity, constant not listening, constant OOC kidness. On my part there was constant monitoring, constant reigning in of, constant frustration with a side of relief from the heartily welcome assist from my fabulous niece with the peace that makes the OOC kidness cease.
As the night ended and I was attempting the first of the manageable bite-sized steps necessary to get the kid home and to bed, this young woman, this not yet a mother young woman – who from all other observable angles appears to be a perfectly normal, perfectly nice young woman – said, he is CRAZY. With a look approximating shock and awe on her face.
You know the old chestnut about frozen blood and veins? Or the one about the stoppage of a heart? Myths/stereotypes/old chestnuts = true.
My instinct was to hurl back, your FACE is crazy. Which meant I was pissed. Which meant I was hurt. Which meant that her little off the cuff, surely not intended to cut remark, sliced right down through bone and gristle to my juicy marrow where insecurity, doubt and shame hang out.
She says crazy, I hear – you suck at this thing called motherhood, this natural, basic human instinct that is imprinted on our goddamn DNA. Shit-flinging primates have a better grip on how to raise their young. Your kid is doomed because you are his mother. He’ll be living in your basement for the rest of his life writing his Unibomberish manifesto in excrement on the walls.
She says crazy, I feel – fear, shame, overwhelming guilt and hurt that I transmitted my jacked up genes into this glorious bundle of extremity. That ADHD, OT, meds may be his future. That things may come hard for him and ohmyfuckinggod, please don’t let him be like me. Healthy and happy is all I want. Please and thank you and amen all the gods and all the things, let him be healthy and happy.
She says crazy, I think – I have read so many books, been more patient than I am, rephrased so many sentences/words/expressions, tried so many different techniques, methodologies, theories, talked with teachers, therapists, friends who are both of those things, other medical professionals, the motherfucking post woman(not really, but does anyone have her number?) and I still can’t get him to stay in his chair during dinner.
A dinner that lasted over two hours. And started at six. Commonly known as the witching hour in relation to young children. After being mostly confined to a house in which everything is beautiful and lovely and not meant to be touched by small, grubby, spazzy hands that grab and pull and bodies that twist and toss and tumble.
Was he acting crazy? He was LITERALLY climbing the walls. So, yes, that could be construed as crazy. IS he crazy? Not, he sure as hell is not. Would I label anyone as crazy? As I am a liberal, a therapist and an empathetic human, I would not. Not when they are in the range of a being capable of rational thought and possessing of some method of absorbing and translating auditory data. Do I think the young woman who made that exclamation is an unsympathetic human? From my observations, no, I do not.
I spat the word RUDE in her general vicinity as I left the room. I wanted to punch her in the face. I wanted to punch myself in the face. I wanted to wail. I did wail. Much of what I say you can’t hear because it’s only going on inside this dripping cavern I call a mind. There is a fair bit of internal wailing during certain seasons or episodes.
I should have said, when you I feel. When you say my son is crazy, I feel indignant, desolate, inferior. When you say something that may mean nothing to you, I feel agonized, like I want to scream and hurl things. When you judge my kid, I feel protective, incapable, humiliated.
I hurt for my kid. Because I worry about the challenges he faces. I hurt for me. Because of the challenges I’ve faced and how hard every little thing has been along the way. I feel every sideways glance, every extra beat in conversation, every crazy, spoken or un. I want an adamantium exoskeleton or a cloak of invisibility or the power to freeze time. Whatever it takes to protect this kid, this balls out, life out louder than Black Bolt kid that I love, for as long as I can.
This parenting thing is not easy. It’s not simple. It’s mostly not fun. And you spend the majority of your time questioning your choices, doubting your abilities, trying to figure out how to get them where they need to go while causing the least amount of fucked-upedness.
Or maybe that’s just me. It sure felt like just me that night.