|Me smiling, hugging Clark (who appears to be missing his head).
For all that Clark finds a challenge, there a few things hedoes better than anyone I know.
He returns to center. He forgives me. And I wish I didn’t have to know how good he is at these twothings.
It’s already painful enough towatch your kid hurt at other people’s hands, much less your own. To see him go through friendless years withno birthday parties or sleepovers, no pick up ball games in the park, no casualdrop-in’s to play Xbox.
Or to see him hurt himself. It is excruciating to hear him say, “Mom, it’s just so hard to beme. If you could just feel what it islike inside me, you’d see. It’s reallyconfusing, it’s really fast.” Ofcourse, he’d say this at the same time he protested that he didn’t want to takehis meds because they made him feel like someone else. But, still, I ache for him, and I think Ialmost understand.
So, yes, I am angry at the people who overlook hisawesomeness, who see only the negative.
But I am most angry at myself.
I remember all the times I lost patience with his lack offocus and easy distractability and yelled at him. Yelled until he cried. Yelled until I knew that I, the one hetrusted most and needed to rely upon, had wounded him.
I remember all the times I hit the end of my endurance withhis impulsivity and insensitivity, when I let him see me cry, when I spoke thewords of my frustrated brain and battered heart aloud in his presence. I see him diminishing in size in my mind’seye. I see him folding inward. I know I did that to him.
I remember throwing things across the room when I couldn’tget him to stop the lying, the book thudding on the couch, the coffee cupshattering on the floor as inside I raged. I can see his crumpled face, scared eyes, and the back of his bowed headas he walked away to hide his tears. ButI couldn’t stop the angry words in myhead.
Why? Why does he lie to me? What is wrong with me as a parent that Ican’t instill an ethical compass in this child? Is he patterning himself after something missing in me? Is he a morally deficient person? I know what the doctors say, I know what theliterature says, but all of this is outside my previous reality. How do I know they’re right? How do I parent like they tell me to when itis so different from everything I’ve known before?
Sometimes, I would put my husband Eric in as a buffer betweenClark and me, when I was in the stranglehold of PMS. Clark seemed intuitively to know when I wasat my worst, and sink to his worst gleefully along with me.
“Get him completely away from me,” I would begEric.
“Why do you do this to your mother when you know she’shaving a rough time?” Eric would ask Clark.
“Huh?” Clark would answer, but his smirk gave him away.
My former mother-in-law, Clark’s paternal grandmother, oncetold me that every single night in her years as a mother she knelt by the bathtub in tears, asking for God’s forgiveness and achance to do better the next day. Icould relate to how she felt, yet I knew we were different; in my heart I knew I had truly failed Clark as a mother.
Failed Clark. Not my other kids. I got mad at my daughter or step-children attimes. I raised my voice. I informed them of the dire consequences oftheir actions. Those times were rare,though. And never, not once, did myself-control shatter into millions of shards of flying glass like it did withmy beautiful, sensitive son.
I failed Clark as a mother, at times.
And I wept. I weepnow as I type these words. How could Iso cruelly hurt him ? How, God? How? I am a good person. Ask anyone.
Whenever these moments occurred with Clark, it would nottake many hours, sometimes only minutes, before I found myself humbled and prostrate.
I can do this,God. You saw fit to give a Type A slightlyOCD quick-tempered woman this boy. You know I can do this. I cando better. I will do better. Please help me.
No matter what else I did wrong, I think I got one thingright. I always, always, alwaysconfessed my shortcomings to my son. Iexplained. I tried to teach. I wasted way too many words on a kid who Ilost after, “I’m so sorry, Clark. Iwas wrong. I love you.”
His response? 100% ofthe time?
“That’s OK, Mom. It’s no big deal. I love you,too.”
And once, branded on my memory, when he was 14, as I stoodbefore him with tears running down my cheeks?
“Please don’t cry, Mom. It’s my fault, not yours. I knowhow hard I make it for you. I make ithard for me, too.”
Oh, God, the questionis not why did you saddle two such different creatures with each other, it’show could you have blessed me so, have given me this resilient, kind soul andused him to mold me into a better person?
Now, I am not a churchy kind of person. But there are times I know God sees my heartand speaks straight to it. And I promiseyou, that the words he puts upon it, I hear as clearly as if he were sitting infront of me on my green garage sale love seat speaking to me aloud.
“Forgive yourself like Clark and I forgive you. Love yourself as Clark and I love you. Marvel at and love this passionate, well-adjustedchild. I believe in you.”
Sometimes I cry. Butonly in between the times I marvel at my son, and laugh.
My son is a wonder. A180-pound wonder that wants a hug every day before and after school, his headtucked over and on top of mine. I am notworthy. I will continue, however, to domy best and know that it is usually good enough.
For all of us. Even me.
Until next time,
Pamela, aka Clark’s Mom
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