Wild Turkey Sunday: The Mother Balance Sheet

mama turkey

I have become the biggest pain in the ass on Max’s behalf.  I am starting to feel like I carry a big-ass hatchet across my back and pull it out the minute anyone suggests I tow the goddamned line and force my son to swallow shit pellets and LIKE IT and PUSH HIM HARDER IN EVERY DIRECTION.

I have a hard time with confrontation, so having a child who needs me to go to bat for him constantly is not something I am at all comfortable with.

I have heard so many mothers say that their kids brought out the best in them, that their kids made them better people.  I don’t know that this is true for me.  I don’t like who I have to be a lot of the time to be a good mom to Max.  I don’t think becoming a parent has made me stronger or better or more whole.  At least not by conventional standards.  I had to become medicated, I became a heavy drinker, a yeller (in the early years), I have become obese, I never relax for a second, I can never quite meet my kid’s needs… I have become more inadequate than at any other time in my life.  Reminds me of when I could never measure up to my dad’s idea of how children should be, how they should perform, how they should grow up.  It constantly reminds me how crushing it is to love a person but never be able to  be ENOUGH for them.

Every day I wake up and wonder what I need to do today to get my son to a successful adulthood.  I do it because I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do everything I can for him.  I do it because he’s my favorite person and because even though he has such trouble empathizing with other people he is so unbelievably sweet to ME.  Asking me if I need a hug when I’m tearing my hair out.  And because he forgets the times I’ve yelled and remembers all the times I didn’t make him feel bad for being different and for believing that he isn’t trying to make things hard for us.

My son has thanked me for loving him even though he’s so hard to feed.

My son has thanked me for letting him be who he is.

As if I could make him be anyone else.

This afternoon I took the back road home from the Fermentation Fair hoping I could get a little time with the wild turkeys.  I came across the female of the bunch.  I have never encountered her without her male guard flanking her.  She was in the middle of the street but stopped when I slowed down to chat.  She became obviously distressed and I immediately realized it was because her three chicks were separated from her by a fence and here I was menacing her – she crossed back towards them and I heard her whimper as she tried to find an opening in the fence to get to her babies to protect them from the Vespa dragon.  That whimper of hers was universal.  I’ve made that whimper too when my son got just a little bit out of my reach and a threat seemed to divide us.  Turkeys can fly but they’re reluctant to do it unless they have to and this mama finally had to fly the fence.

I have fought so hard for Max for so long I’m a little shocked that people are finally listening to me.  REALLY listening.  The school is going forward with learning disability testing.  I got a call this week from the speech and language counselor who wanted my permission to include speech and language in his testing because the evaluations that his teachers last year and I filled out indicated some issues but speech and language wasn’t previously included in his battery of tests.  I was confused because Max doesn’t seem to have any speaking issues – the way I went to a speech therapist in school to correct my lisp – but she explained that speech and language are far more complex than issues like lisping which is just one small thing.  Speech and language includes how we socialize, how we use language to communicate, our ability to use it successfully in social situations.  She mentioned difficulties with pragmatic language which I read about when researching NVLD and it made me so happy to have someone at the school paying attention to this.

Meanwhile, Max’s psychologist at Kaiser is going to start evaluating him this week (well, first meeting is with me to go over all his developmental history) in order to determine if he thinks Max qualifies to go to Kaiser’s specialists in San Francisco.

This is what I’ve been asking for, working towards, for 6 years: to get help for my kid.

It’s possible that he won’t qualify for any diagnosis from anyone.  I know this is possible even as I know that my kid is definitely different and that those things that make him different are always going to make it more challenging for him to succeed than his peers in ways they take for granted.  I have to accept possible outcomes.  But knowing when to give up?  Knowing when it will stop serving to be the pugnacious MOTHER-BITCH and turn inwards to discover how we can navigate these deep waters alone… ????

I’m scared.  I’m scared of not getting the help I know we need.  I’m scared that every year I don’t get help and support I’m going to fall deeper and deeper into this alien experience of being the biggest person I know.  That’s not ME.  I can’t seem to crawl out though.  Because all of me is spread out to keep my kid as well adjusted as I can and caring for my mom and trying to be a decent wife and also having to work and trying trying trying to move forward with my own dreams ——

There’s nothing left for self care, for concentrating on getting back to my real body, my real personality, my real life.  It isn’t even as though I have more challenges than most people I know.  I just seem to be weaker than them.  I have a terribly low threshold for chaos, trouble, challenge, brick walls, obligations, or self restraint when it comes to beer and cheese.  It isn’t that my troubles are more so much as it is that my strength is wanting.  I know other parents who are dealing with challenges ten times greater than I am and they find the strength to get through it all and be annoyingly positive.

Fuck that.

I suck at this.

I can beat myself up all day long.  I’m a professional at self flagellation.

I believe in balance.  That’s pretty much all I truly believe in.  I believe that light cannot exist without dark, which means that on every level we need the sun as much as we need the night to give our eyes rest.  It means that circadian rhythms aren’t joke.  It means that there isn’t good without bad.  There’s no such thing as a world without evil.  It means that we are striving for one thing and avoiding another – and the best circumstance is to end up on the median strip.

This is not mediocrity.  This is balance.  A very delicate thing.

It means that as scared as I am, and as fat as I am, and as inadequate as I am, there is another side to these feelings.

I have a wonderfully trusting and close relationship with my son even though he’s launching into those irascible teen years.  He trusts me IMPLICITLY.  Maybe it is going to end soon.  I know this risk.  But right now – no matter how inadequate I may be and no matter that I’m fat as a hog – Max trusts me.  He truly trusts that I am never going to let him down.  Even when I do.  He forgives and his feelings about me remain in tact.  I’m not perfect, I’m a mom.  But he knows at all times that I have his back.  That I love him no matter how mad he makes me, no matter how much he wears me out.  He knows it.  He always knows it.  He knows it and he knows what it costs me.  I can see how bad he feels when he can see me growing exponentially old negotiating life between him and the world.

I didn’t get that trust from him for nothing.  I have worked for that.  I have looked hard at him his whole life – trying not to wear blinders – loving the truth of him rather than my wish of who he might be or become.  I got Max’s trust because I earned it.  I placed trust in him and demanded that he place trust in me too.

So the flip side of my inadequacy as a parent is that my weakness has made me accepting of my child’s foibles, his weirdness, and it has made me love him for who he is instead of who I wish he was.  It has given me an extraordinary closeness to my child that I might not otherwise have.  I’m crap in so many ways but I stand up for Max.  I have become a complete bitch on his behalf.  I don’t feel pride about that – I just know that there was no other way because when I was polite and patient and flexible and compromising I got nowhere, I was invisible, I was unheard.

As I have been so many times in my life on my own behalf.

What makes me a good mom to Max is that I never give up on him.

What makes me a good mom to him is that there is literally no topic we don’t discuss and there is no topic about which I will lie to him.  And he knows this.  And it’s what makes him trust me when I tell him he’s going to be okay or when I tell him I have a solution to a problem.  He has never had reason to doubt me.  It’s what makes him agree to try new foods he thinks might kill him and what makes him go against every impulse in his bones and be respectful of adults he hates for one day – just because I have asked him to do it for me.

Truth is a powerful tool.  Not everyone can handle it.

God, I’m so scared all the time.

Time to shake it off as best I can.  Monday is here.

Reflection over.





One comment

  1. Robin says:

    Wow!! I think you are more like that mother turkey than you realize. Natural instincts. I’m in awe of how you rise to defend your child at the expense of self.
    Not having to deal with the level of issues with kids you have I don’t know if I could have. Hang in there Angelina you and he will both come out if the fire as new people, strong people

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