Hi there Dani!
Thank goodness for the video cam your husband, Cesar, bought back when the kids were toddlers. There’s your proof you weren’t a bad mother. In fact, from what I can see, you were actually a pretty good mom.
It’s just that you were prone to feelings of guilt for not doing more for your sons, both your “typical” son Andres and your disabled son Diego. Guess what though? Feelings of inadequacy just come with the territory. Even a rich stay-at-home parent of a gifted child can feel like a failure.
Sure, Andres will quit baseball in high school and later complain to you for letting him do it. But you can bet your bank account that, had you insisted he stick with it, he would have blamed you for not having supported him back when he wanted to quit.
Teenagers are like that.
Plus I’ve seen a lot of video footage showing the whole family going to free swim at the YMCA at 7:00 pm all the time. You even jumped in the pool with the boys though you must’ve been exhausted after a whole day of parenting.
And how about the footage of the kids skiing? Who helped them through the torturous rental process and schlepped the boots and skis from here to there with a smile (ok, at least not a frown) on her face? It was you and Cesar.
You were actually a pretty fun mom, and the videos show it. Beside you in the pool, there’s you on the trampoline, on the carousel in Central Park, at the Bronx Zoo, and on the beach in Venezuela.
But if anything proves you were cool, it’s that clip of you and Andres engaging in a thumb war, laughing yourselves silly.
“But, but, how can I ever forgive myself for having bitten Diego on the arm that day at the store?” you ask. You’re right, there’s no good excuse for that. That he was going through his toughest period ever (when anything would trigger a meltdown) doesn’t justify it.
Let me remind you, though, that parenting is freaking hard and you’ll be a better parent if you forgive yourself as quickly as you can. Also, making Cookie Crisp cereal from scratch for Diego last year should compensate for the biting incident.
You bought the Cookie Crisp cereal Diego really, really wanted just so you could empty the box, make nickel-sized gluten-free cookies, and fill the box back up.
Now that was an act of infinite caring. Diego carried that big old cereal box around the house as if it was his most prized possession! You’ll be happy to know that, in a few years, going gluten-free will be as common as lowfat milk and grocery stores will carry GF everything.
I’m well aware you worry about the relationship between your sons. It pains you that Andres doesn’t get to have a typical sibling and may feel burdened by the responsibility of caring for Diego when you and Cesar aren’t around.
What can I say? You can only do so much. Get used to it because you have minimal control over Andres’s journey.
By the way, your own journey to come to terms with having a disabled child will be quite long. Not only that, if I told you where your boys will be when they’re 27 and 25, you might, a)not believe the facts, and b)not believe how you will feel about such facts.
“Who the f*ck are you and why don’t you just spit it all out?” I can almost hear you ask. Well, I come from the future of course. I’m you, your future self, and, even if I could tell you everything, I would not.
I will, however, tell you these two things, which, come to think of it, apply to most mothers:
- Things will get easier, not only because they will in fact be easier but also because you’ll view them differently.
- Your job will never be done. Parenting is forever.
Ready or not, you’re in for a crazy ride.
📺 YouTube link: A letter to my (much) younger self 😍