“I wish I were with my dad!” Ben spat at me yesterday while we poked around the extravagently priced chic baby boutique (I about died to learn that the slipcover I’d picked up for Alex’s carseat was $140. For something he will likely destroy. AND BASED ON EVERYTHING ELSE IN THERE, IT WAS A DAMN BARGIN!). I guess I’d made the error of telling Ben that he did not need a Pacifier Pod of his own for Alex, the cold hearted snake that I am.
Never have such words cut so close to my heart before. “I wish I were with my dad!”
I once read a quote (at least I think I did) about how you have to start letting your children go when they start school, but I think you have to start much earlier. Like birth.
Although we made it work, Ben’s early childhood was not one of the easiest times in my life. Initially I had to go back to work at about 2 months postpartum (someone had to buy diapers and formula, and since Nat had been laid off and therefore lounged about his parents house all day, that task fell to me), and school began a month later. I wasn’t around much, as you can imagine, and even when I was, it was a constant barrage of how ineffectual I was as a parent (spoken by my mother), so I tried to be around even less. I was living under their roof while they paid for school, and although I resented hearing about how much I sucked on a daily basis, I knew from experience that fighting it was futile.
I soon gave up my dreams to become a doctor or virologist in order to earn a quicker more high paying degree, so that I would be able to support myself and my baby son when I graduated, instead of slogging along making $10/hour working at some shitty lab while I went to grad school. As well documented my hatred for my nursing is, I’m not trying to put myself up on the cross here, I chose it, I chose wisely with the best information I had available to me at the time, and I did it and I am not sorry about it. Just whiny.
As a baby, Ben was an odd duck (mayhap this is why I like the odd people that I meet), preferring to bond with his mobile, the grandfather clock and some ugly old knobs on my parents antique hutch. He had very little use for people in general, choosing instead to personify inanimate objects up to and including all 9 (well, now 8 but this was before Pluto was ruled a non-planet) planets and box number 3 from his advent calendar, which he slept with regularly.
Between his preference of inanimate objects to people and his schedule, which sends him to Nat’s on most weekends (well, when Nat doesn’t have anything better planned), I can honestly say that although he shared my body for 9 long months, we’re not all that close. You see, I’ve been forced to let him go for so long that I realized recently that I’ve never had him as my own. All of the mother-y things I do, I do for both of my children and I do it without feeling sorry for myself (something my own mother could take a lesson from), but I know in my heart of hearts, as Ben will always be on the Autistic Spectrum, only one of my children will understand all that I do and why I do it: Alexander.
Dr. Spock (in the only baby book I read with any regularity) reminds you that you love each of your children differently, and I see this as the truth. Ben and I coexist peacefully, and I love him dearly no matter how indifferent I appear on your computer screen, and there is nothing in the world that can change this, but Alexander is mine.
When I was pregnant with Alex, I had exactly one desire: that the baby be born to love me and genuinely like it when I am around. If that sounds a little sad to you, and it probably does, remember that although Ben loves me in the best way he knows how to, if Dave were to come home and announce that I had moved to Tibet for the next 6 months, Ben would accept this and move on with his day. Alex doesn’t like it if I so much as pee with the door closed.
Kids aren’t born to us to make us feel better about ourselves and right all former wrongs, nor would I expect them to, but sometimes they heal old wounds without even trying to. This is part of what I love best about Alex, he has redeemed me in my own eyes, but it’s only a byproduct of him being less Aspy than Ben. Alex has highlighted all that is abnormal about Ben.
Ben’s quirks make him who he is, and I love him dearly for who he is: one of the kindest, sweetest, most polite and thoughtful people I have ever met. Most of the decisions I have made about my life after he was born straight down to who I married have been to benefit him in some way or another, and I don’t begrudge this in the slightest. I am proud and honored to be his mother each and every day of the week, and I want nothing but the best for his life.
Without trying to, he successfully opened up some nasty festering old wounds, the type who lay dormat for years at a time, and I was so hurt by them that I could hardly speak. I gave him the silent treatment for the first time in his life and after he left to go with Nat I just couldn’t shake his comment (which to him, was completely innocuous, as Ben has no idea how I feel about Nat and his lack of true parental responsibility. “That’s more my realm” is a direct quote from Nat when asking why he hadn’t paid the dentist yet.) for the rest of the day.
I guess kids really do break your heart over and over again, don’t they?
Somehow, I suppose, I had mistakenly hoped that it would be his choice of wife that would have done it to me.