- 9:55 p.m. I wonder if I have time to soak my feet in Tony Moly foot peeling shoes before Leading Man #2 gets home from his bi-weekly nerdfest.
- Bailey’s Irish Cream: I’m human. I enjoy a drink on rare occasion.
- Lori McKenna: The Time I’ve Wasted
Time just flies… and you don’t move on you just cry…
Leading Man #1 was only 4 years old when his dad and I divorced, and I relinquished, with both agony and complete disillusionment about what living apart from him would actually be like, residential custody.
You think that after 14 years not being with kiddo every day would get easier. That goes double since Leading Man #1 is now a fully-grown young man just two short years – and they will be short – from no longer being a surly teenager. When I appeared in New Jersey a day earlier than anticipated two weeks ago, my son dismissed me for the evening. He would absolutely spend time with me over the weekend, he said, but that Thursday he was going to chill out in his room.
Because Autism I was simultaneously ecstatic at the clarity of the communication even as I was dismayed that my son didn’t want to hang out with me.
Despite Autism, my son is old enough to both make and bear the effects of his own choices. I momentarily weighed making kiddo go to dinner with me and then decided against it. I got the hint back in March, when I tried to tell LM#1 how proud I was of him the day before his 18th birthday, when he played “Let it Go” on his iPhone WHILE I was speaking to him on it.
Since making the transition from “joint legal custodian” to “legal co-guardian of a disabled adult” I am feeling a bit more comfortable with not living with my son. Still, there are certain things I wish I knew when I was still married to LM#1’s father, TheEx, and lived with him. If I could travel back in time, I would write it all down in a note, sneak into my hospital room on kiddo’s actual birth day, while I was still in recovery and kiddo was being given his APGAR test, and leave it on my hospital night stand. It would read as follows…
Dear 32 Year Old, Newly Minted Mom, Cris,
Today is the best, and most important day of your life. Today you have been given a tremendous gift – the best gift you will ever get: our son. Cherish today. Throw everyone out of your hospital room when they bring our son to you and just revel in being with him.
Don’t stress about what everyone else thinks you should do, or the mother you think other people want you to be. You only have to be good enough for one person: that tiny being you just gave birth to. You already are. You always will be.
Make time for our son. Draw the hard line with your career and every other aspect of your life that he comes first. Jobs come and go. Children grow up fast. Kiddo won’t remember the stuff. He won’t remember the times you punish them. He will always remember the times you were – and weren’t – there.
You already know yourself. Accept that person as she is. Ignore anyone who suggests you should be a different mom than the one you are. Don’t be offended when someone says you should discipline our child more. Roll your eyes at the Mommy-Mafia with their strollers at Paramus Park Mall. That’s our kiddo. He needs the mom you are. You were, literally, made for each other.
Wait an extra year to file for divorce. Try to work it out first. It will give you more time to come home every night, make dinner, do homework, and tuck LM#1 into bed. Make a conscious effort to set aside all that is going on in your life that will bring about that divorce and, again, revel in being in the presence of the human you created.
Negotiate a better visitation schedule with longer and more frequent visits when you do give up residential custody. Fight for it. Refuse to sign that settlement agreement until you have something as close to split custody as Autism will allow. You will voluntarily give up residential custody. Because Autism LM#1 needs the home he was born in, and the school district he is in. Because Motherhood you always do what’s best for our son, even when it breaks our heart.
Go back to court when you move out of state (You’re going to love New England, and the man you follow up there) and refuse to leave the courtroom until you have a revised visitation schedule and an agreement that your future ex-husband will meet you 1/2 way in Connecticut when you visit. Don’t be too mad if you don’t get the last part. The Merritt Parkway will have a direct, positive impact on your driving record. You will see so much driving stupidity going to and from New Jersey you will finally stop tearing up highways.
Spend every second you can with our son. Do it now before you realize you and his Dad are better off with different people. All that time you spend now will not make a difference when that happens. You will still leave Leading Man #1’s toys strewn around your apartment in between weekend visits. You will still refuse to make his bed after he goes back to his father. You will simply have all of those extra seconds to cherish when you step on a Lego or curl up in his unmade bed.
Don’t waste one second worrying that our son will grow up hating you because of what other people say. I promise you he won’t. A month after Leading Man #1’s 18th birthday, you will be driving to up to Boston together, and you will suddenly realize that your son judges you by what he sees and has always seen: a parent that loves him and is always there for him.
One last thing…Skip the Camry and replace that Saturn you’re currently driving with a Lexus when it dies. You can always clean up the projectile toddler “I ate too much” vomit, and he eventually outgrows that stage. On second thought…don’t just yet. Wait until you’ve traveled through Connecticut a few times…
The Mother Rogue, aka Your Future 50 year Old Self