I have wondered for some time how the Roc views me. What does he think “Mommy” means? What does it mean to him? I’ve been told many times that he is a “mama’s boy” and it’s true.
If you give him the choice between me and anyone else on this planet, 99% of the time he’ll pick me. He follows me through the house, from the kitchen to the bedroom, upstairs, downstairs, to the back door while I take Guinness out to potty, and he even follows me to the bathroom. (I am working diligently to put a stop to that. Now that the Roc has begun to ask questions – there are certain things I don’t have the desire to explain just yet. This mama deserves a little bit of privacy!) He wants me to play trains or pretend picnic, the same way every time, it is just so hard to get him to deviate from the scripts I made up long ago. There really is no spontaneous imaginative play at our house, unless I am present, prodding and coaxing him along. Recently we’ve started playing board games, and they are definitely breaking the monotony as well as helping to develop some great new skills for the Roc. But it’s exhausting. At the end of a full day with him I am wiped out. Forget about winter break where he was out of school for 16 days…16 days of entertaining him.
This mom gig is hard. Many say it’s the hardest job they’ve ever had. And all special-needs moms know that our job is often harder than most. Every mom wears many hats: chef, chauffeur, teacher, maid, homework helper, boo-boo kisser, etc. The special-needs mom wears those hats and even more: occupational therapist, play therapist, speech therapist, physical therapist, researcher, IEP team member, activist, advocate, administrator of special diets and supplements, cheerleader, and the list goes on and on.
We do all of this because we love them, we want what is best for them, we try our hardest to do this job right. We wouldn’t trade it for not having them. I know I wouldn’t. Most kids do not consider all of their mother’s hard work, and very few say thank you, at least not until they are older and have kids of their own.
And of course, we are not looking for thank yous. That wasn’t in the job description and we signed up anyway. But most kids show their love, in their own ways.
The Roc’s smile has always been my proof of his love. He may not have cuddled with me, laid his head on my shoulder and snuggled in the way I physically ached for him to, (and sometimes still do, every mother wants to hold her child), but I know he loves me. Now that he is much more verbal more of his love is being exposed, when I least expect it.
While we were down south we visited both the state park beach and our favorite beach, Pawleys Island. The Roc likes Pawleys because the beach huge and has an inlet side where there are no loud waves to scare him, and he can get close to the water. He was busy throwing sand into the inlet when I decided to walk across the beach to the ocean side for a breather. These vacations exhaust me and I just needed 5 minutes of space. If the Roc is attached to me at home just imagine what he’s like when we go stay with family. I stated my intentions and started across the beach. Immediately the Roc started screaming. Guttural screaming and screeching. I glanced over my shoulder at his stiff form and kept moving knowing GC could handle it, mama needed some air. I could hear him screaming most of the way until I got down to the water.
I stood in front of the waves and stared across the ocean searching for some peace. I cherish the time we spend with family, but it opens me up to things I tend to shove in the background. Differences I know exist, but do not focus on in my home life, become so apparent they choke off my air at times. I flounder with myself as I try to balance disciplining the Roc in front of family and keeping in check all the sensory issues he is dealing with in an unfamiliar house. I struggled with envy again on this trip, and I felt myself splintering apart while watching GC really connect with his nephew…and seeing the Roc watch from the sidelines. All of this swirled through my mind as the wind whipped my hair and the waves crashed at my feet. I looked over my shoulder to see that the Roc had gone back to throwing sand in the water. I took a deep breath and turned to rejoin my family.
As we were leaving the beach GC asked me if I knew the Roc had been hysterical when I went down to the ocean. Oh yeah, I knew. Apparently after he had screamed for a bit, all the while GC telling him I would be coming back, he turned his blotchy, tear streaked face up to GC and said:
“But I don’t want Mommy to go away…She’s my best friend.”
He may never understand how hard I try, how much work we have done together, but I don’t doubt that he loves me or how he sees me.