I might have opened the dam. As I was looking him in the eye, talking about why he was in the calm down corner, reminding him it was okay to be angry but. Yes, before I finished my sentence, I might have opened the dam.
The dam to his emotions. To his anger. To the words that I hadn't heard him hurl before. The words that cut through me like a knife straight to the core of my heart.
"I don't care about you. You're not my real mommy."
that tiny finger in my face...
"I only care about Mommy T. You're my fake mommy."
I usually keep my perspective. I usually remind myself where the words come from. I usually remember this is part of his healing.
This time, I was not prepared. This time it was personal.
This time, I burst into tears like spontaneous combustion. This time, I could not control it. This time, I couldn't protect him from my own feelings.
I tried to finish our talk. I had lost him completely. He continued to spew words without regard to what or to who he was hurling them.
"I hate you. I only care about Mommy T. You're not my real mommy. You're my fake mommy. You're my junk mommy"
I couldn't breath. I took a timeout. Walked away. Tried to stop the tears. I could not.
Not when I finally got the boys into the car.
Not when I signed my tardy little kindergartner in at school, and had to look up to see the multiple staff members this worried son was announcing the details of our painful morning to. They wanted to discuss our upcoming meeting. Not now, I said and I left the building- a hot weeping mess.
I almost gained perspective when I got back into the car, and for a brief minute he offered a trade--
"I'm sorry mommy, you can be the real mommy, Mommy T. can be the junk mommy"
But the dam had opened. The words rushed forth with force that he couldn't seem to be able to control. It was as if he was being forced to pick only one of us to love and I was not his choice. I was his target.
Not when I drove my angry son to Aunt Nae's. Not as he continued to spew what felt like pure hatred.
I knew the importance of showing him I loved him even in his eruption so I kissed him goodbye and told him I loved him.
He replied "junk mommy"
Not when I called my husband for comfort and understanding that only he could give.
Not when I got to my desk at work and hid behind my cheap door.
The eruption wasn't only hard for me. It was exhausting for him. Literally draining his energy and ability to function. And I knew again that Aunt Nae was God's answer for my son. Teacher Nae, who declared it a "no pencil day" so she could simply love him through his eruption, love him through a very long nap, complaints of tummy and head aches and give him hugs as needed.
Not when I forced myself to bible study, and even when I couldn't verbalize the pain of the day to her, the prayers of my friend going to my God Daddy fell over me and covered me like a healing balm.
Not when I got into my car to drive home and heard his shaky little voice on the message, declaring both his sorrow for his actions and his love for me.
Not when I got home and found the note.
Not when I put my head on my pillow many hours later and finally slept.
I don't think it was just his words. I think they were the last bit of pressure that caused my own dam of protection to give way. The dam, holding back almost 6 years of my own feelings to protect his, just couldn't take any more.
The morning came and I was greeted with a cheerful "Good morning, mommy. I love you. Did you get my note?"
Where is the line between hurting and healing? In expressing confused feelings from deep within for the one who is gone, and what felt like disrespect to the one who is right in front of him? I am sure he crossed it.
Let's be real people, I was mad at him. And, for a short time I almost believed him. Am I the fake mommy? What is a real mommy anyway? Do you have to give birth to be a real mommy. And I have an idea of what a junk mommy is, and it ain't me. (oh, did that sound bitter?) Is a real mommy all about genetics?
I am not the fake mommy. I could list a hundred reasons why. Like, I am the one who feeds him. who rocks him. who kisses his boo-boos. who wipes his dirty bottom. who changes the sheets when he is sick in the early morning hours. who has taken phone calls from the school on an almost daily basis for about 1.5 years. who burped him. who answers the same question a hundred times. who plays with him. who buys him more than he deserves. who picks out his favorite juice. who tells him no. who washes his clothes. who wakes him with the good morning song. who finds his lost whatever. again. who gets him Bojangles for breakfast. who ruined his life by taking him out of daycare. who reads to him. who prays over him. who is captured by his smile. who would die for him. who would take on anybody who dares to hurt him. who loves him in the midst of my anger toward him.
I am his real mommy.
And, he knows.
But until he knows that he knows, I, we have to teach him how to feel all that he feels, with respect.
The next night I could finally talk to him with perspective. We tell him that it's okay to feel angry and sad and confused. It's okay to miss her and want to see her. It's okay that he didn't want to leave her. It's even okay if he doesn't want to love me.
It is not okay to disrespect me.
We give the boys a picture of her. He needs to know that she doesn't hold power over me. He needs to know that I'll keep loving him through his confusion and his anger and I will do all I can to help him remember. The baby needs to know who this Mommy T. is that he keeps hearing his brother cry for.
We give her a home on our fridge. We give permission to remember and to love her.
We pray that in the permission we give him he will give himself permisson to love both his mommies. And one day understand there is no such thing as a fake mommy.