Ben and I have been having our issues lately. When I asked him to listen, he tells me his ears don't work. When his Zhu Zhu pet (a hamster toy for those of you out of the loop on children's toys) was taken away because he wouldn't stop annoying Elliott, he screamed about it for almost an hour. He whines and yells and says he doesn't like me or his toys or his house. I remind him that other people don't have toys or houses or food even and he just cries even more. In general, he is a very sweet and loving and smart and helpful boy but sometimes he is SO SENSITIVE.
In any case, during Elliott's therapy, Ben was having a hard time again (probably because Elliott gets so much attention), and he retreated to his room. I went up to check on him about 10 minutes later, and he was packing his backpack full of stuffed animals. "Where are you going?" I asked him. "To see your mommy," he replied. This took me off guard. I didn't know which mom (stepmom or biological) he was referring to. He barely sees my stepmom and I don't think he thinks of her as my mom. And my biological mom is dead. Ben knows that she is dead because he's asked me about it before, but we haven't talked about it in months. As he stuffed Pluto into a Thomas the Train backpack he continued, "I want to see where your mommy lives, but she's dead. So I can't see her. That's sad, Mom." This whole interaction was so earnest and surreal that tears immediately came to my eyes. I didn't let on, though. "Was she nice?" Ben asked. How would I put this? My biological mother was not nice. She was very mean to a lot of people and she was a drug addict. She wasn't pure evil; I believe that she loved me to whatever extent she was capable of love...but "nice" is not the word I would use. I try to be honest with Ben, though. I told him, "No, she wasn't very nice, but I'm okay...and I'm nice to you and Elliott, and that's all that matters." Giving your kids everything you never had also means coming to terms with the fact that none of that will change and you can only go forward. It is wonderful to be able to give my kids all of that love and support but it can be painful to see the contrast between what they have and what I had. I did not have a mother who loved me. I'm okay with that most of the time; lots of people have worse things to deal with. But sometimes it sneaks up on me. I
I have a twelve year old niece who just found out her dad (my brother) is a drug addict and has been since well before she was born. And god it hurts to see her struggle with this. And to hear her reassure herself that it will be okay, that she will make it, that she will give her kids what she never had. To see her smile break up into tears because she's under so much pressure. I see the struggle ahead of her, but I tell her, it's okay. You can make it. You can make your life different, for yourselves and for your children. I am proof of that.
It is strange to me that I do feel a little sad that Ben will never meet my mom, but I know that this is probably for the best. Ben forgot about his backpack full of animals and his desire to meet my mother almost instantaneously. The moment passed for him quickly, skimmed off the surface of his beautiful, stable life. I am grateful for that.