We hit another wall with T-man and his birthmother. The last glitch I survived happened at the end of a visit with her (you can read my post “ouch” here) and it was a pretty rough awakening. I think I handled this week’s episode okay (or at least as well as I could), but it’s safe to say that my approach is definitely more straightforward now.
BrightSide was bringing the kids home after work Wednesday when an interesting (and by “interesting” I mean devastating) topic popped up in the car. T-man and Bear had been “jinxing” each other all day – saying the same thing at the same time – and BrightSide made an offhand comment that it’s something siblings do.
To which T-man responded that Bear isn’t his sister.
When BrightSide passed this along I sucked in a deep breath, thinking surely this was the worst of it. As if. I should know better by now.
When BrightSide asked him, T-man went on to name his birthmother as his mom.
I’d already had a somewhat difficult evening, so learning that my son still sees me as a caregiver (don’t bother disputing this, he’s already admitted as much) was more than just a blip on the screen. It brought me to a full stop, neurons firing wildly as I tried to process this piece of information.
My son believes someone else is his mom?! The flip side being, my son doesn’t see me that way? What the hell?!?
I don’t know how my heart didn’t explode right then and there. Not to wallow (cue tiny violin) but I have cried pools of tears over this child. I’ve crawled through glass, walked through fire, held his hand during some of the hardest moments imaginable for such a young man, all because he is my son. We’ve celebrated beautiful moments, too, and experienced incredible joy. T-man is part of me now, a piece I’ve grafted onto my heart with a mama bear’s fierce love.
Yet he does not claim me.
Well, I decided the hell with that mess – it was time T-man and I had a serious heart-to-heart about our relationship. And that’s how I found myself perched on the side of his bed at 8:30pm, ready to dig in and make myself understood.
I wanted to be sure we didn’t have any crossed wires, so I came right out and asked T-man about the car ride. He readily admitted to making the statements about his relationship with Bear and his birthmother (we’ll call her Miss C). Okay then…game on.
Here’s what went down in his room Wednesday night.
Me: I know adoption complicates things a little. (Draw a triangle in the air.) Mom – dad – baby…that’s pretty simple. Mom – dad – (wave hand near triangle) woman over here has a baby then chooses these people to be his parents…that’s a little more tricky. Now you’ve got this whole other circle involved in things, right?
Me: I’ve mostly talked about things in general when it comes to adoption, but it looks like we need to talk about some details. So what’s a mom?
T-man: A mom is someone who gets pregnant and has the baby in a hospital.
Me: Well, Miss C is your mother – she carried you for nine months, brought you into this world, and did her best to care for you before choosing us to be your parents. She is the reason you’re on this planet and we’ll be forever grateful for that, because I just can’t imagine a world without you in it. She gave birth to you then put your needs first. If she was selfish she would have kept you because she loves you, but that’s not what mothers do. They have their babies and then they put their children first. For you, that meant choosing people who would give you a stable, loving home. Miss C is your mother.
Me: Me? I’m your mom. I’m the one who gets up every morning to make sure you eat breakfast before school. I check to see if you’ve done your homework. I’m the one who cleaned up your puke when you had the flu and checks your temperature when you’re not feeling well. When you were little and had an accident at school, I was the one who brought you new clothes to wear. I coordinate your activities, get you to your practices, and show up at every game to cheer you on.
(Still Me): I’m at your school awards assemblies, clapping when you’re recognized for your hard work, and I’m at your school plays. I know your favorite yogurt and keep it stocked in our fridge. I know your favorite snack, favorite cereal, the books you’re reading right now, and the science project you’re planning. I ask about your day when you get home – How was school? What about that kid who’s been bugging you at recess? How are things going with your teachers? I try to help you eat healthy, and I make sure you see your doctor. I’m the one checking that stupid website every day to see if the flu mist is in yet.
(Still Me): I’m the one who walked you all night when you came home with an ear infection that hurt something awful. I take care of your wounds and help you get back up again. I’m the one who talks to you about sex and drugs and all the hard stuff that helps you grow into a good person. I’m the one who kept you from wearing a stinky shirt to the dance because girls don’t like boys who smell. I’m the one who’s here day-in, day-out, for everything…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
(Yep, STILL Me): That’s a mom, T-man. No, we don’t have that umbilical cord thing, but that’s just biology. We have ten-and-a-half YEARS of mom time, with many more to go. So yes, Miss C’s your mother and she loves you. But she’s not your mom, T-man. I’m your mom.
As you can see, it was a pretty long conversation with a whole lot of listening on T-man’s part, so he looked kind of exhausted when I finally kissed him goodnight and left his room.
This was a huge bombshell for a Wednesday night.
Do I think it’s fixed? Do I think T-man’s 100% convinced I’m his mom? No, I honestly don’t. And frankly I’m a little sad that I have to convince him at all.
But at least I spoke the truth to my 11-year-old son. Miss C’s role in his life is intrinsic. Without her there wouldn’t be a T-man. But “mom” is a title I’ve earned, and I’m claiming it. Unapologetically.