Stuff Nobody Tells You Because The Species Would Die Out If They Did
I did benefit from a lot of that advice. And I learned that some of it was pure bunk. Cabbage leaves in the bra? Good God. Nothing like a cupful of soggy, limp body temperature salad to make a post-partum gal feel especially sssssexay.
But I'll tell you what would have been more valuable to me: the stuff that nobody tells you. The stuff that isn't covered in "What to Expect When You're Expecting." The stuff that can't be solved with a clever gadget, a sweet treat, or a mother's hug.
Nobody tells you that you might not get a Hallmark card, Kool-Aid commercial, picture frame model, teacher's pet, parent's favorite, kissin' ass and lovin' it, Opie Taylor lookin'....kid.
You might get kid that has issues or disorders or syndromes; one who is surly and contrary and irrascible and stubborn and argumentative. You might get a kid who is socially inept, resistant to change, bad with transitions of any kind. You might get a kid that adults dislike and other children delight in tormenting. You might get a kid that causes people to cringe when they see him coming. You might get a kid that causes you yourself to breathe a sigh of relief when he walks out the door each morning.
Nobody tells you that other people will judge you because your child is different. Nobody tells you that other parents will look at you with disdain when your child says or does something wildly inappropriate. Nobody tells you that administrators and teachers will blame you when your obviously intelligent child fails class after class. They will think you are not following through at home, not imposing consequences, not checking backpacks and agendas and behavior reports. They will think it is your fault. And you are often sure they are right, though you can't imagine what else you can do, short of completing the homework yourself and then hand delivering it to the teacher.
Nobody tells you there are days when you will have to walk away from your child to avoid saying something horribly damaging. Nobody tells you there are days that you don't do it soon enough, and nobody tells you that the guilt, on those days, will keep you up at night, contemplating what kind of future this child has, when even his own mother can't stand him. Nobody tells you that you will often wonder if your child can make his way in the world at all, or if he will become one of those people who live on the fringe; maybe peacefully, maybe not. Nobody tells you that sometimes, in very dark moments, you wonder if your child is destined to become something unspeakable; someone people will talk about for a very long time.
Nobody tells you that your other "normal" child will suffer in ways you never expected. Nobody tells you that this other child will retreat from the constant conflict, locking himself away in his room where the turmoil won't touch him. Nobody tells you that you agonize over how to stay connected to this other child and how on earth to give him equal measures of time and attention. You wonder if you have anything left to give that child at the end of the day, when you are exhausted in body and being from the battles you have fought with his sibling. Nobody tells you that trying not to fail one child can make you feel like you are failing another.
Nobody tells you that sometimes, when the rope is frayed and unravelling and the end is mere inches from your feet...there will be moments of brilliance, wonder, perfection, meaning and hope that will give you the courage to tie a knot and hang on. Nobody tells you that despite all your self-flagellation you will ocassionally get small glimpses of evidence that in some way, on some level, you are doing some thing right. And you are getting through, even when it seems like the walls and the obstacles are insurmountable. Nobody tells you that the snippets of "normal", when they come, are like a gift from some cosmic force. Or, that you will savor them more than any sweet treat you could possibly think of.
So what has prompted this post? First let me tell you that I almost didn't post it. Because it sounds awfully whiny and self pitying and really, really ungrateful. I know there are women out there who loooooooonng for children. But let's be honest, they don't long for a child like mine. So although it may be all those things and more, it's also real. And I try to be real here. Because I don't want to read about somebody else's perfect cookie cutter children and perfect cookie cutter life, where there's no turmoil, no upheaval, no judgement, no regret, no resentment....None of that makes me feel less alone or soul sick or desperate.
Perfect holds no meaning or appeal for me. I want to hear about struggles and failure and chaos. And if that is true for you as well, then you are in the right place!
Now...back to what prompted this post...
School is out for my boys, and has been for two days. For many Moms, this is cause for celebration. But I'll be honest, for me...it causes only a feeling of sick dread and impending disaster. And that makes me feel bad. It really does.
Other Moms are posting and tweeting and blogging about how happy they are that summer is here and they get to spend all day everyday with their perfect sunshiney kids and they can do perfect wholesome activities and enjoy each other's perfect smiling company... and all I can think is...
It's going to be a long fucking summer.