Addison came home from school leaping into Ian’s arms. I cried. A broken brain and a cracked heart have made the days long and the nights forever for my brave son. I hadn’t seen him smile from joy in too long to remember. Addison brought that out of him in her fierce, loving way.
3 days later there would be no smiles, as we would be loading Ian into an ambulance and sending him to an inpatient treatment facility for the fourth time.
The picture we have of parenting when they are little is equal parts bravado and bullshit. Bravado-as we must be wholly convinced of our own ability to keep this entirely dependent creature alive and thriving. Bullshit-when we realize that indeed children can vomit across a room as fast as they can climb stairs and break into a childproof container of muscle relaxers.
My parenting picture has expanded with soul-full sisters-in-law who bring beautiful babies into the world. I’ve become Auntie-the human chew toy and giver of many treats.
My mothering picture is blurred slightly as they grow past me at a pace no one prepared me for. In a blink a grown man is in my house, looking past me into the future.
I never pictured my mothering to include therapists, and lock boxes to keep the means for my boy to die out of his hands. As if I’m locking away hope. Hope a smear of watercolor my prayer-full tears wipe from the canvas.
The frame is mental illness, the lines adolescence and the picture, on most days, is Dali-like with melting clocks and sharp edges from broken glass.
If he just…then we could…You let him get away with…There is something missing from my discipline/emotional support/fill-in-the-blanks…He didn’t exactly hit the genetic lottery with my family history…Why do you treat me like crap…Please leave…Please come back…Stop…just stop….
Those are some of the words that obscure my vision for any clear picture of who this child is underneath the behavior, blank stares and punched walls. My frustrated, angry, reactive words color it whatever is darker than black.
Just when we say to each other, “I’m done,” and crawl into our respective corners to stew, bleed and weep, out of the corner of my eye-a small glimpse.
Today he rapped inappropriate lyrics as he urged me to drive faster to get him to school. Today he smiled. At me.
The picture of my parenting is being redrawn. With shaky hands I, again, pick up the camera to see, the pencil to outline and the brush to paint. I’ll settle for a ginger colored smile-like his impossible to control hair. A twinkle in his blue eyes, absent of red from tears. And green from tiny reeds of hope breaking their way from beneath the dust of crushed preconceptions of perfect parenting.
Picture this- bravado anchored in the complete confidence that it really is all bullshit. That what really matters at the end of the day is that he is still in my picture and that with breath there is hope.