There have been many times over the past year, in which I wondered if my son would be better off without me in the picture.
I understand that is a terrible thing to say but I never thought I was fit enough to be a good mother. I worried I would be much like my own: anxious, unstable and unrealistic.
But 7 plus years ago and after years of my partner wanting to have kids...I decided to throw my hands and legs to the sky and say "let's see what happens" and what happened?
A gorgeous little boy came into this crazy scene.
And like so many other moments of naive hopefulness, I believed that if I just wanted it enough, I could become a wonderful mother AND I would never explode like my mother did,
I would never pressure my kid to be perfect,
I would never yell or say shitty things and he?
He would be awesome.
He wouldn't be a mess like me.
He'd be so much better than me.
But he still is a lot like me.
And it turns out...I'm a lot like my mother.
When Atticus was born, I was told that the 1st year would be the hardest part of but then came my divorce, toddler insanity, my manic dive into beer, men, tears and poor judgement.
All of this, in addition to continued sleepless nights while trying to smile with food stuck in my hair and grossness dribbled on my clothing meant that year 2 and 3 were not easier.
They were a shit show of how truly functionally dysfunctional life could be.
Time moved forward and things got harder.
When he turned 4, I thought I had finally figured this parenthood, relationship and career business out.
I met a wonderful guy who loved us both and really wanted to create a family.
I was becoming a grown up BUT then we stepped into the world of Pre-school, Kindergarten and Elementary school!
(Cue the dramatic music, it's needed)
I had no idea what we were in for.
Not a clue.
I grew up in Sahuarita, Arizona.
I had one school option.
It was full of the children of migrant workers, copper miners and Mormons.
There was no bullshit to be had.
If I misbehaved, Dr. Holtzmiller gave me the paddle.
If my mom found out about it...then the belt and wooden spoons came out.
I got a lot of firm reminders throughout my childhood but they never stopped me from being a stubborn and defiant child so I promised myself that I would never be that kind of parent.
Which was great except I didn't have a Plan B.
So when Atticus acted like an ass?
I didn't do anything but plead, cry or lock myself in the bathroom because his misbehaving was infuriated me to a point of rage.
I didn't know how to talk to him which meant that he didn't know how to function, either.
He wouldn't sit still, he said crazy things, he inspired revolts.
When preschool mutiny happened, it was epic.
He was kicked out of his 1st 'real' preschool because he led the kids out of the building to the playground and locked the teachers inside of the building. Upon his expulsion, I was told to drug him or be prepared to visit him in prison during my grey years.
After that, I found him a very liberal preschool that he loved.
So, for a time he had the perfect situation until we could no longer afford it.
Kindergarten was a challenge but ended okay.
We were encouraged to remove him from his designated school at the beginning of the year by that school's counselor and transferred him to a Montessori school. I figured he'd thrive with more creativity but his teacher had to create a whole new set of rules for him so that meltdowns and full on tantrums weren't a daily experience.
Again, once we got through Kindergarten, I thought things were going to get easier but after the 2nd week of 1st grade, it was clear that the Montessori atmosphere wasn't a good fit for him.
He was back to finding ways to runaway from school, master his use of profanity and alienate most of his classmates.
Principals calling me with my son begging to come home in the background became regular occurrences.
I was truly losing my mind.
So, for the past several months, I've been holding my breath and waiting for phone calls, leaving work early, scheduling meetings with teachers and psychologists, emailing his father, his teachers and trying to keep my breakdowns fairly secret.
I've texted friends at all hours of the day for advice and stayed up way too late reading every recommended book on parenting a child who is now officially labeled as 'gifted' and 'emotionally disabled'.
I've been almost entirely focused on taking care of and advocating for my son.
Each day, still showing up for work, walking into rooms and lecturing strangers about how to keep their shit together while they've pressed me for my faults so that they can feel better about themselves.
Random folks giving me unsolicited advice that they copied from someone's Facebook page.
They mean well, I know... but it hasn't stopped my own feelings of wanting to runaway.
I have not been all that confident that I was the right person for the job to be raising Mr. Atticus Ronin Brindamour.
This kid who hugs everyone, who asks questions that I can't answer...
This kid became lost in 18 pages of documentation that said he was a problem.
And it's been unbearably shitty at times.
It has been full of a lot of misguided moments of frustration towards the people I love the most...
My boyfriend, my teacher, my friends and my co-workers who are my family and deal with my everyday ramblings.
It's been a year of having to get up and feel my feet on the ground, each day.
I've been a mess but I've still shown up and I've learned that running away doesn't get you any further away from the parts of life that you don't like.
My son needs me.
Our school system is fucked but our teachers our good.
They are exhausted.
They are underfunded, underpaid and our kids are being dragged through a system that often lacks insight.
It's really nuts.
Thankfully, the bigger picture has found heroes in the corners who spend their days listening to both Atticus and me.
We are at a new school,again.
Atticus is still awkward and defiant but he is given so much more patience and guidance then he was.
He is doing much better.
My phone isn't something I gaze at with trepidation and wonder 'is that the school's phone number'?
It's been much better...
We are much better and I am not going anywhere.
I'm staying right here and I still believe I can be the mother he needs but I'm not crossing my fingers, anymore.
I'm taking some deep breaths and staying put.