The winds of Hurricane Delta howling around me have nothing on my teenage son.
The destruction and devastation that occurred earlier this afternoon definitely make the goings-on outside feel like a springtime thunderstorm. Hell hath no fury like a teenage son’s rage directed at his mother and Jim Cantore can’t throw a tarp over my heart’s debris and tell me I could have predicted this damage.
“I hate you, fuck you,” shouted my (sweet) almost-16-year-old son as he stormed off through the front door and left me crying with his brothers in tow. I’ll admit, I felt shell-shocked at first and I didn’t think I’d heard him right because the ringing in my ears just wouldn’t stop. It was like lightning crashing right in front of me. I did, however, hear him right. This vitriol spewed from his mouth quite easily after a morning filled with, “I love yous.”
Because I asked him to get off of his cell phone at 3 pm and eat lunch. At 3 pm. On a Friday. During the COVID-online-school-riddled-crapfest that is 2020.
I didn’t back down, but he wouldn’t stop howling groans, eyeballs rolling, shouts and disrespect. I immediately asked him for the cell phone so I could keep it for the weekend and there was flat-out refusal, followed by my taking it off of his dresser, anyway, which escalated into a screaming man-child in my face yelling, “Shut up, you’ve ruined my life since day one!” and his grabbing me and attempting to head-butt me in the face. At my very lowest I think I’ve ever been, I went into straight survival mode and slapped him across the face. Hurricane Cam went into full Category 5 after that, throwing things around in his path as he spun around with the final blow that you read above-leaving me with the shattered shards of this broken heart.
There is no pain like this in the world. I feel as if I’d experienced raw pain before this moment what with the surgeries, abuse, child loss, death, treatments, abandonment, and molestation in my past. However, I was very misinformed. This is it. This is the kind of pain and devastation that leaves me in this outer-body state I am in now, wondering how the hell do I get past this moment in time without finally giving up?
My Cam is such an artistic teenager. He’s creative, funny, he can draw like no one’s business. He loves to laugh, he has never had an awkward phase. He was beautiful since the moment I locked eyes on him and he only ever grows handsomer. He has always been confident and up until these past few years, he has always been intuitive of others’ feelings: sensitive, caring and has always been able to read the room.
Then, his Daddy died in his arms.
I think some part of Cam’s childhood died that day with Ricky. He was only eleven and he had to grow up too fast. Except he didn’t have to grow up too fast, I lied to myself, because he had me. Apparently, I didn’t matter in the equation as much as I wanted to and no matter how hard I pushed through the difficult circumstances that are being a single mother to a boy who’s been through the some of the worst events that life has to offer–I am failing. I tried my damndest to run against this wind and it has all but flattened me. I don’t know what I’m doing, I didn’t act like this, I never would have been able to speak to my parents like that and live to see the day. Honestly, I still have some of my old diaries, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have tried it. I’ve always expected the typical teenage attitude, I’ve heard teens become moody and angry… but whenever it grows to full-on temperamental shouting and physical rage (especially whenever my former preemie is taller than me) it just doesn’t sit well with me. How is my son ever supposed to respect any women in his life if he can’t respect the one he started life with?
How do I teach him to open doors? How do I teach him to have daughters, to be kind to his wife, to respect his future female employees or bosses, when everything that happens to him he blames on me, takes out on me- the one thing I never knew I’d have to worry about. We’ve had counseling, we’ve had talks, he’s gone on a church retreat, I’ve tried being stricter, and lately? I’ve been WAY too relaxed compared to other parents I know. I’ve cut back hours at work, I am in a steady relationship with a kind fiancé. I am used to being the scapegoat of many, but I want to shout to the thunder crashing in the skies above, “WHEN?! WHEN DID I BECOME MY OWN SON’S SCAPEGOAT?! WHEN?! WHEN DOES THIS MADNESS END?! HOW?! HOW DO I FIND SHELTER FROM A NOW 5-YEAR-LONG STORM?!”
My beautiful son came into this world 5 weeks early after a long battle with preeclampsia. When I felt his first movements in my belly, I knew I had never known such love until that moment. I fought like hell to nurse him and get him to gain weight. I never would have been brave enough to leave my abusive marriage if he had not come into my world, because I didn’t ever want him to grow up experiencing violence toward women was okay and though I sucked at protecting myself, I wasn’t going to stay one second longer around any harm that could have affected my baby boy. I entered single motherhood at 21-years-old and I don’t care what anyone says, it’s the loneliest, hardest way to endure life if you have no one else to rely on but yourself. I am around 21-year-olds now and when I compare their lives to mine back then…all I can think about is how I don’t know how I did it except breathing in and out because it was the only thing I could control. I spent so many years working job to job, only leaving each if it was going to be better for my boy. I didn’t date much and the few times I entered into a relationship I thought I was being careful and doing something good for him more than myself. I thought he’d have a life that was more secure, that was easier, that had a father figure and whenever they turned out to be mistakes I always counted myself lucky that he never would have to settle for less or that he seemed secure enough with my love for him to not feel unwanted.
I thought I was in a better place until now. We have come so far in life, him and I and his little brothers. I was told yesterday in a conversation with one of my kind friends that I was “one of the most amazing mothers that she knows” and I’ve lived with this friend for a year before. She’s seen me in action. I was so grateful and yet, today, as he sits in his room in silence and I sit next to this window listening to the frightening howls of this hurricane, the kind words don’t ring true. They don’t hold precedence.
I am so tired. I have been for years. I am numb. My body aches. My eyes are swollen. I have 3 years left of the teenage years and I don’t know if I can handle enduring these moments for that long. I sit in guilt for thinking these thoughts and looking back on how I wanted to freeze time for each little milestone he hit in babyhood and adolescence, I want to hang my head in shame for wishing I could now fast-forward time until this storm is over. Each moment of his life has always felt like a precious commodity, I’ve always known I’ll never get back and yet, here I sit with this. No advice I’ve been given so far has been helpful. I know each motherhood challenge is unique to each mother and child and thus, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone and helpless. How does one vent to a friend about this nightmare without fear of judgment, gossip, or labels being formed (about either of us)? I truly never want to relive this afternoon and though I’ve always told myself, “It will all be worth it whenever he grows up knowing and understanding that loving him and being his mother was the only thing that kept me alive, the only thing I’m good at”, I swallow and realize that that may be only a fantasy and it might never happen. That maybe being a baby mom, a toddler mom, a little boy mom was terribly easy and I was never really good at loving my child, that the teenage years are the only true test, those last years before adulthood, and I’m a failure. I want to be okay with that.
So, I sit here in the warm bath, the only comfort I have mixed with the release of typing all of this out, I sit. I listen to the howling, I hear the thundering rain, I hear the crashing sounds of unknown debris outside. I feel them on the inside of my exhausted body, too. I feel it all in one of the worst years in history on my least favorite day of the week. I sit and wonder when it’s all going to give. When will the gusts subside? When will the storm end? When do I find out riding it out was “worth it”?. Will there be sunshine when everything goes quiet?