A friend once told me that in order to be a great boxer you don’t just have to like hitting people, you also have to like getting hit. I would say the same thing about writers and rejection. In order to succeed as a writer it helps if you can welcome the adversity of rejection. This is definitely true for me. I mean, I don’t exactly like rejection, but I certainly spent enough years being bombarded by it to know that I’m someone who’s going to keep swinging.
But I’ve never before faced a foe with such an absolute ability to break my heart.
I know that many of you have been following the struggles our family has been facing as a result of Tariku’s early childhood trauma and the resulting behaviors. I think the one that’s the hardest for me to talk about is that T often rejects me. And when he rejects me he does it like he does everything: big and loud and unmistakable. I can’t tell you how many times a day I hear, “Mommy, LEAVE,” or, “Mommy, NO COME.” And that’s not even getting into the hitting and biting and throwing things at my head. Perhaps most saddening to me is when he’ll use an intimate, cuddly moment as an opportunity to punch me in the eye.
I don’t mean to make it sound like this is a summation of our entire relationship, because it’s not. We also have plenty of awesome times and sweet moments. But it’s there and it’s real and it’s something we deal with daily in one way or another.
This is so hard for me to talk about. I think I’m only able to write about it now because I’m in New York on business for a few days, so I can get enough distance from the situation to gain some perspective. Nothing I’ve encountered as a mother has sent me to quite as dark a place as the rejection. I have guilt- what if I worked less, what if I yelled less, what if I was better at the balance, what if I was cheerier, what if I was more fun? What if I could draw a perfect elephant? What if I was different somehow? Would that make my child love me?
Realistically, I know it isn’t me. I’m not perfect, certainly, but that’s not the problem. It makes sense that with all of the trauma and transition my son has experienced in his short life, he would make it his business to be the one to do the rejecting rather than risk being hurt again. I have great faith in the healing we’ve committed to as a family but I also know that it’s a long process. We have quite a few rounds left to go.
But today, I have a little break between rounds. I get to walk through a New York April while I keep reminding myself that parenting isn’t about how much love I get to take from the world, but how much love I get to bring to it. And I love that kid crazy, crazy, crazy.