I fell asleep on the couch on Wednesday night. I love falling asleep on the couch while watching television. It’s as comforting to me as the scent of my mom’s perfume or the taste of her matzo ball soup. Of course, I missed the last ten minutes of “Franklin and Bash,” which drives Mike crazy, because I always wake up when a show is over and ask him how it ended. He doesn’t understand how I can stay awake until the last scene of a show and then fall asleep. He doesn’t understand how much I love falling asleep on the couch! On Wednesday night, when he tried to wake me and send me to bed, I kept saying in my sleep, “It’s not my fault.” He thought it was strange. I didn’t.
After my molar pregnancy, I blamed myself (and my body) for not being able to make a baby properly. Eventually, with the passage of time (and a lot of therapy), I figured out that it wasn’t my fault, but that early and tragic brush with motherhood was where I learned the art of blame.
On Wednesday afternoon, I sat at my kitchen table with a $158 per hour behavioral therapist who spent the better part of two hours convincing Dylan to consume a piece of turkey the size of an ant, and I thought, How did we get here?
Of course I blame myself for his sensory processing disorder. He is made up of half of my DNA. Maybe it’s from the chemotherapy I had after the molar pregnancy or the preeclampsia that forced me to deliver him early at 37 weeks. Maybe it was the c-section. Maybe it was the store bought baby food or the bottles riddled with BPA. Maybe it’s because I had no idea what I was doing as a first time mom that his habits and behaviors, especially with food, got so bad.
What’s worse is that sometimes I blame him. Why can’t he listen, eat, dress, or behave like his peers? Ugh. Those are the really bad, regrettable thoughts. (The strike-through makes me feel a little bit less hideous.) Then the blame shifts and I wonder what evil part of my soul is capable of being so selfish, impatient, and incapable of accepting my son for the perfectly imperfect person he is. And then It shifts again and I wonder if he blames me for not understanding, for doing too much, for not doing enough, or for doing it all too late.
At times like this, I look for a lesson and a truth. The truth is that it’s not my fault. Deep down I know this, but blame has remarkable power. The lesson is that I have power, too. When my children’s flaws are exposed, so are mine. It’s what I do with the vulnerability that counts. Every day I spend as Dylan and Riley’s Mama makes me a better parent and person. All of the self-doubt, mistakes (perceived or real), questioning, crying, and couch sleeping makes me stronger and smarter. I can’t wait to look back at this chapter in our lives someday and be insanely proud of how we conquered this beast of a problem as a family. Until then, we keep on our journey.
Today, Grandma Barbara and I took the boys to an art exhibit, Nathan Sawaya: The Art of the Brick, at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood. (Local readers: The exhibit is here until August 19th, so it’s not too late to check it out.) This guy builds the most beautiful and thought-provoking sculptures with Legos. It was just what I needed to get out of my head…
…and into his.
This was Dylan’s favorite:
This was Riley’s:
These were mine:
This one was my absolute favorite:
I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. He wanted to grasp something, but he was incapable. He wanted to repair something, but the task was overwhelming. There were so many broken pieces. Where would he begin? How would he ever take hold of it if he couldn’t reach it? I thought, How did he get there?
It made me lose my breath, but it also gave me great comfort.
What brings you comfort during challenging times? Have you been to any good art exhibits recently?