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My Heart Cracked As Loud As A Coffee Mill


“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.

7 Comments to

“My Heart Cracked As Loud As A Coffee Mill”

  1. On December 30th, 2007 at 11:56 am Karen Says:

    What an honest post. It really touched me. I am so sorry that Ben hurt you. But thank God Ben doesn’t know how you really feel about his dad. Thank God, you are strong enough to hide that from him. And as much as it hurts you, thank God Ben feels close enough to you to tell that at that moment, he’d rather not be shopping with you.

  2. On December 30th, 2007 at 1:25 pm Leslee Says:

    Oh dude. I remember the first time Alex said that to me. It was maybe a week after I left his father for the very last time. (Which would make him 3, almost 4, at the time) We had to move into a two bedroom apartment with my friend (who also calls herself Aunt Becky) and her roommate. We had one laundry basket of clothes, a garbage bag of clothes, a box of Alex’s movies, three of his toys (that’s all I could convince him to grab) and our cat, Harley. He never once bitched about not having toys to play with or anything. He did bitch about bedtime, though. We had to sleep on the couch and loveseat in the livingroom and he was giving me a particularly hard time one night cuzz I couldn’t get Jeff (Becky’s roommate) to go to his bedroom and do whatever the hell he was doing. I kept putting Alex back on the loveseat for bed and that’s when he did it. He screamed that he wished he was with daddy. I stared at him for a minute, layed him down and covered him up and walked away. I couldn’t be near him for about an hour cuzz he had just broke my heart. Of course, Jeff picked right then to go to his room, but thankfully Becky heard what happened and came out of her room and stayed out there until I was ready to be near him again.

    He’s already called me a bitch, too (only a few months after this incident. Heh), but that was more funny than heartbreaking. I’m still waiting for the next heartbreak, which I’m sure will come any day now.

  3. On December 30th, 2007 at 2:25 pm Emily R Says:

    This was a startlingly honest post. Most of yours are, but this one took the cake. I think we all do love our kids as they come out, but we are grateful when we get one that gives us something cuddly in return.

  4. On December 30th, 2007 at 3:42 pm Cricket Says:

    Very touching. Spoken like a true mother. I sure appreciate the honest, non-martyry types.

    My son goes through spells where he’ll scream he hates me or that he wants to live at his dad’s. Don’t be surprised if you hear it again soon. Then he’ll work though what he needed to and it’ll pass. I also know that it isn’t his dad’s that he loves so much, it is the gaming stuff over there that I refuse to buy here. “Love” is disguised at lots of things.

  5. On December 30th, 2007 at 4:02 pm Heather Says:

    I can understand the loving each of your children differently thought. When I had The MAN, I was so sick because of pregnancy complications that I stayed in hospital two weeks after his birth and my mother helped E take care of him. It was so all about me the first year of his life, I even kind of blamed him for making me sick. I didn’t instantly fall in love with him like I hear people talking about with their kids, but I grew to love him so big that it’s all-consuming.

    When I had Beansie, she (like your Alex) was all mine. I could be her mama and spend my time worrying about if her feet were cold rather than if I was going to keel over. I didn’t have to live outside the moments. It’s different when your realities dictate your emotions.

    I am crazy madly in love with both mine, but so very differently. I think it takes a really honest kind of person to recognize her children as people who are different from each other and who can be loved different from one another, but equally as much.

    As for *what* he said, though it broke your heart wide open, I would be depressed, too; even those we love the most can stab us just the right way.

  6. On December 30th, 2007 at 6:23 pm Juli Says:

    Actually, ONLY those we love can really hurt us that way.


  7. On December 31st, 2007 at 12:10 am Jenn Says:

    I have never once gotten the impression that you love either of your kids less than with every fiber of your being. You are a fantastic mom to BOTH your boys and if anyone reading the things you write can’t tell that then they are missing something.

    I can’t even imagine what that statement must have felt like to you. I remember once when my brother was angry with my mom (we were young) he told her, “I wish you had died instead of Daddy” and I think maybe it felt something like she felt then. Sometimes kids say not-so-nice things and they don’t mean them anymore than adults do when they say things in the heat of the moment.

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