I realized today while I was walking that I carry a burden of wrongness about being N’s mother. It goes right back to the beginning of his life.
It was wrong for it to happen (not married, bad choice of dad). My decisions were wrong. It was all wrong. I tried to celebrate it, but there was always this undertone of wrong.
Then, as he grew older there was something wrong with him. Wrong again. Then, as he grew older still, there was something wrong with ME. Something wrong with my parenting of him. Something wrong with my life.
Every day it seems there’s something WRONG. I am drowning in a sea of wrong. I catch a breath of air and think I might be able to float and then get hit with a wave again, pushed under. I choke on the salt of “you should try this,” and “you should do that,” and “why don’t you do that, or this.” I want to vomit that salt water back out.
I feel compelled to defend my choices.
Lots of women get pregnant and have babies.
Lots of kids are difficult (many are WAY more difficult than N)
Lots of women are shitty mothers. (They still do the best they can at the time).
His problems now just amplify all of this. They seem to prove that I did something wrong early on (if you choose to draw that conclusion). I carry this responsibility. This judgment. This wrongness. It’s behind my smile, and it’s the unspoken tone of my life that lives just behind my words “I’m fine.” How can I be fine when the being I birthed and love ferociously is wrong?
I am not the mother who gets to brag about her son’s triumph at soccer practice, or his good citizen award, or how kind he is, or what a good job I’ve done raising such a great kid. I am the mother who gets to defend her choices when no one understands them, who gets to defend her parenting, because no one sees the wisdom and intuition behind it.
There are two sides to this experience. The dark side is the one where I worry for his future and feel powerless. The one where I fear he will end up in a group home or living in my basement at 40 and everyone will say “See? It was all wrong. This is what you get. This is the result of your wrongness.”
If there is no reality beyond this one, then I simply got the result of a toss of the DNA dice when he was conceived. Maybe his dad was so broken that his DNA was a little broken too.
Maybe that meningitis vaccine I got that year, or the somewhat unhealthy lifestyle I was living contributed to his DNA cocktail. Or the supposed radiation outside Boulder, or the glyphosate the farmer sprayed on the field next to my house when I was pregnant.
Here’s the other side to the experience. If there is a creative consciousness behind this hologram we live in, maybe he was created just the way he was supposed to be created.
Even if we’re just test subjects in some larger experiment, that still gives his life some meaning. Even if there isn’t a god.
And he’s really smart, which helps. And he’s brilliantly creative. And surprisingly psychic. He is my canary. He senses when something is off before any of the rest of us do.
He is one way that the universe is experiencing itself, and not only that, but he has already changed us tremendously.
I can choose to believe what I want about him. I much prefer to believe he is RIGHT, not WRONG. I can’t swallow the bitter pill of wrongness anymore. It nauseates me and makes my hands shake. It wakes me up in cold sweats and buzzes in my ear like a mosquito. It makes me drink too much, chew my fingernails, feel rage at people.
If he isn’t wrong, then when he appears to misbehave, when he seems rude, belligerent, stubborn, scary, abhorrent, or just plain WRONG, well then he ISN’T WRONG. He’s just who he is. He isn’t that way because I screwed up in his early years. He isn’t that way because I missed some essential part of parenting, because I was too overwrought to parent him properly. If he chose me, chose this life, chose it all, then it isn’t wrong.
I didn’t do anything wrong.
I’m not saying it’s easy, because it’s really fucking hard. Every single day. But I can’t do this hard stuff while also feeling that it’s all wrong at the core. Today I officially drop this belief, and if anyone else is still hanging onto it, well then you just enjoy chewing on that fear and judgment. You can have it. I’m done with it.