Unconditionally. Except…

I’ve been feeling like the worst mom lately. Not in the “my house is a mess,” “I’ve been feeding my kids only processed foods” way. Although…that too… In the “I don’t deserve my children, because I’m hurting them emotionally, psychologically” way.

I wrote in my last post about struggling with Griffin’s ADHD in combination with my burnout/depression/anxiety.

Which, kinda feels like saying, I struggle with Griffin in combination with myself.

Which…feels accurate.

Lately, and possibly because he’s five and a half, in kindergarten, and sooooo cool, Griffin and I have been butting heads.

Like, leave us both in tears butting heads.

I’ve never fought with my first born the way we currently are. He’s screaming and telling me he doesn’t like me–or love me, on one particularly awful day– while kicking walls, lashing out, knocking things over. He’s frustrated to the point of shaking and tears.

I’ve been frustrated to the point of doing things I don’t want to do. I’ve made an effort as a parent to be more gentle in my parenting than I was parented. I’m not dissing my parents, I just don’t think it’s an effective method for my children. The day he told me he didn’t love me, I told him to go to time out, and when he blew a raspberry to me at that suggestion, I grabbed his arm so hard, and drug him to the corner, where I spanked him as well.

Now, please know that I am not against spanking in principle. But. This wasn’t one of the times it was necessary. I did it because I was out of control. Or, Griffin was. Or, most accurately, the situation was. I spanked him because I was mad. I was mad because I felt like he wasn’t listening to me, or doing what I asked. He felt unheard and angry because he felt like I was ignoring his wants.

Today was hard. Like. Fucking hard.

I had to coach one act this morning, and when G got to practice at 7:30, (yes, AM, we have to practice in the morning), it was fine. Then I asked about his AR book, and he was reading it. It was more challenging than previous books, so I was trying to help. But I was also trying to coach. He was getting frustrated because I was telling him to sound words out, or to try words again. This all came to a head when he was reading to me, but I had to direct my students. He screamed, “STOP INTERUPPTING ME!” I replied, loudly, but not screaming. “This is my fucking job.” My kids snickered.

Clearly one of my finer moments as a teacher and a mom.

He’s five. He doesn’t understand “job”. But, I was so angry that when he asked for help again, I told him he needed to apologize first, to which he rolled his eyes. This continued on. At the end of the practice, I took a deep breath and said, “You know how Mrs. Teacher’s Name, teaches you? Talks to you, and helps you? That’s what I do, that’s why I had to talk to the kids even though you were reading to me.” He replied, with wisdom past his years, “I get frustrated when you interrupt me.”

Fair. I hate being interrupted too.

Then, our days went on. I knew this morning that it was going to be a spacey one: he was off task, jumping from idea to thought and back, while reading to me.

After school, on the way home, he was informing me that his Christmas concert was tomorrow. I said, no, next Friday. Eight days.

He rolled his eyes and told me I wasn’t listening. So, I took a deep breath and said, okay, tell me again. He told me “I’m over all this talking.”

I was crying before we got into the house.

Not because of the words. I’m sassy and sarcastic, and too blunt. I know my children will be like that at times. I’m not na├»ve. I believe that my parents will tell you it’s my just desserts.

But. I want my sweet G back. I want the boy who didn’t fight me on everything.

And, I want to not wish away aspects of what makes him him.

I came home and wished and prayed and cursed. I prayed for a neurotypical child. I wished he was different.

I second-guessed myself for getting him diagnosed. I second-, triple-, and quadruple-guessed myself about putting him on meds. (This is not helped by my mom asking if he really needs them if they make him more emotional or aggressive.)

I felt, still feel, that I’m not loving him unconditionally. The way he deserves to be loved.

Because, ADHD and fighting lately aside. This kid. I don’t have words, but I’ll try.

He’s so fucking smart. He’s a great reader, loves math, knows more about the solar system at five than I do at 31. He can tell you about dinosaurs, planets, square roots, and so much more. He remembers things I forget, from years ago. He loves his brother, even when he’s so mad at him he’s clenching his jaw and fists. He has the biggest, most beautiful heart. He loves hard. He’s soft and sweet, the best parts of his dad and me. He’s social, has eyelashes I would have to pay big money for, the sweetest laugh.

And, because of my own frustrations, I feel like I’m not loving him the way he loves, or should be loved.

When Nate came home to my breakdown, because, let me tell you, it was a breakdown. He called G in. He told me to tell him what I told him.

I couldn’t talk. I looked at this beautiful, wise, face. A face that I’ve traced more times than I can count, and I just cried more.

G looked at me and asked, “Why are you sad, Mom?”

I tried to find the words, “I’m sad because we’ve been fighting so much lately.”

He hugged me, said he was sorry, that he didn’t mean to.

I told him it isn’t him, I told him that sometimes I get angry about other things, and I let that get to me. That I love him. That I was so, so sorry because I love him so much.

He crawled into my lap, this all-leg, over four foot tall, kindergartener of mine, and let me hold him, kiss him, whisper in his hair that I love him, that I’m sorry, that he’s perfect.

I can’t pretend I’m doing any of this right.

It’s humbling to apologize to your child. It’s heartbreaking to realize that you need to. It’s terrifying to think that if I don’t, I can make him resent not only me, but himself: the parts of him that are challenging, but are also part of who he is: the hyperfocus, the emotions on his sleeve, the talking, the noise.

I want him to feel strong, to know that he’s loved, to love himself. I want him to be able to walk into a room, and know that he’s got something that makes him special and worthy of being there.

I want him to know that I fuck up this mothering thing all the time. But, it’s not because I don’t love him. It’s more about how I feel about myself. And that’s the biggest fuck up of all.

Because, it’s not about me and my issues right now. Or, because it does have to be to a point, because I have to heal for him. For him and his brother. So I can help them go into the world without the insecurities, fears, and lack of sense of self I felt when I went into the world. That I feel still.

I want him to know that I love him with every part of my being, every breath I take, every beat of my heart.

Unconditionally.

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