Son 1

 

Yesterday was for me about son #1. Forgive this, and skip it if you either don’t have kids, or they have never given you a moments worry!! Son#1 ( I will call him B) was born to me as a single mother. His biological father has never seen him or had anything at all to do with him. He signed over parental rights to B (to my ex husband who adopted him) when B was 3. It took me a VERY LONG TIME, to see that it wasĀ not I, who failed B (although I take my share of less than perfect behaviour) but his useless feckless father who abandoned his responsibilities as a FATHER. Ā I have not yet forgiven myself for the “mistake” of conceiving a child in these circumstances.

So B and I were a unit, from the beginning. We lived in one room in my mother’s house. I had Ā£50 a week maternity allowance and NOTHING else. B was prem, sickly and had reflux. He had apnoea one day and was blue lighted to hospital – that was probably the worst day of my life. But, I’m tough, and I was a qualified GP (family doctor) so from 3 months old I started working, part time, locum shifts to start with. Found child care, upped my hours and when B was 11 months old I applied for and got a partnership in a local practice – where I still am today. I bought us a small house, B thrived. All good.

Then I met my ex husband. He is the subject of another blog post. And the reasons why I married him are the subject of about 2 blog posts, I think. But I did, and sons 2 and 3, both planned, came along. All good you might think. Except that exH was a drug addict (cannabis – and later cocaine- and cannabis, like alcohol is probably OK for most people – but for some it is most definitely NOT OK) my exH fell into the latter category. Ā A messy, painful, frightening, desperate few years passed, and I divorced him.

to his credit exH has always treated B as his own son, and this continued after we divorced.

I identified early that B was not quite like other kids. He smiled late, he never had separation anxiety, his speech was a little delayed, he had odd phrases, and these persisted after you would expect them to have stopped. He was not fully and reliably dry till about 6. But, even though I am a bloody doctor, I never put 2 & 2 together to get the correct answer. I think I might have done if he had had an older sibling, but he was my first. Ā He went to school and struggled. Eventually, aged 9 he got a diagnosis of moderate dyslexia, followed swiftly by a positive assessment for Asperger’s syndrome.

It’s Ā mild. The aspergers, but it has shaped his whole life. You don’t see it when he is with adults, as he has trained himself to make pretty good eye contact and he is articulate. You don’t see it with younger kids, who will do as an older child directs, But you do see it with his peers, where he is “odd” and they exclude him. This happened again and again, and you can’t make kids be kind to each other. The full extent of the bullying he felt at junior school has only very recently come to my attention.

He started stealing, and lying compulsively. He started ordering things on the internet meant for adults, he skipped school. He was expelled from school for theft (on CCTV ) and arrested for possession of cannabis. By now he was 14/15. Academic study stopped. He got in with the wrong crowd because he was so desperate for friends. He failed all but 3 of his GCSE exams ( for my non UK readers, a child of his ability should have got 8-10 good passes) significantly he did not pass English.

He took a resit year. Did no work, spent almost Ā all his time with a girl I cannot say I was pleased with. Failed again.

In the meantime his weight has doubled, he had no motivation to exercise, was unable to find even a part time job, was sullen, uncommunicative and his future looked very very bleak indeed.

And all the time ( from aged 13 probably) exP has been imposing increasingly severe and unkind sanctions on him. Bullying him, humiliating him, criticising him, calling him ‘fat’ and ‘ useless’ . Not always, but enough. And he would not see that it was wrong. The fact that he has limited relationships with his own adult children, now seems extremely relevant.

Dont get me wrong, the compulsive lying and the theft – from family, friends, school, our friends, us, me his grandparents – has been very, very hard. I have hated it. But you can’t hold what he did at 14/15 over his head for ever. He’s now almost 18 and I don’t believe he has stolen anything for at least 12 months.

One of the biggest deal breakers for exP and I has been his relationship with B. We went to family therapy for a while, but exP would not really engage.

Until B and I went to the Army recruitment centre; until this last fortnight on the NCS programme, until he dumped the odious girlfriend (he has done so) I saw little hope. By letting go of ExP I have provided him with his safe space again, at home.

The future is still uncertain. It won’t be easy. But at least now there is hope.

Being a mother is hard. But I love him, and he is MY son. He is kind, can be very considerate, has learned to control his temper – he never ever scares me like exP does and he’s just as strong – he’s good natured, and given the right opportunity I do believe he will Ā thrive …

i know it will take me years to forgive myself for not removing exP from his life years ago.

First meeting with a different therapist tomorrow : and another on Friday. I need the right person.

 

 

 


11 comments

  1. Lily, you sound like an awesome mum. Nobody is perfect at parenting, my parents certainly weren’t but kids don’t need perfection, they need to feel they are loved, that you have their back and will fight for them and their future – all of those are obvious in this post. My ex was also a waking-to-sleeping pot smoker and was a nightmare if anything I planned got in the way of that. I’m very glad to read you seem to be looking at things more positively and sound like you’re feeling stronger. Hugs x

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  2. Wow. You are incredible. No one knows what they are in for parenting and especially so when your child is diagnosed with something slightly different from the ‘norm.’ He’s still young and plenty of time to turn his life around. And sounds like now, with exP not around – you can do so together.
    Sadly (I suppose) his behaviour isn’t at all unique, and even more understandable with his diagnosis.
    And in some ways it could be a blessing he acted out then, in mid teens. All that stress of trying to fit in, and bullying would have come out in some form at some point, and hopefully now, he’ll see it didn’t work in his favour… And work towards a better more positive future.
    I know it’s all early days and there will be ups and downs but there seems to be Rays of sunshine shining through.

    No one is a perfect parent, and I’m not even sure what that is. Parents are humans too! So try not to be too harsh on yourself. Hopefully acceptance of the past and your decisions will come with time and therapy. Because it sounds like you tried so hard and, in my eyes, were/are an incredibly
    Loving and supportive mum doing the best she could.

    Sometimes when I’m feeling my weakest, in retrospect, is when I’m at my strongest. Sounds like this is where you’re at… Xx

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  3. Lily this post is incredibly moving. I know that you are a wonderful mother. I can tell from your words. I know that this thing with Ex P and B has been going on for a long time and I am pleased he now has a safe place with you. I am not passing any kind of judgement on your Ex P as I know nothing about your situation and even if I did it would not be my place to do so but it does sound as if this might be B’s time to shine. It is lovely to hear about the group he has been part of and the new girlfriend. I think it will all work out in the end.

    I am pleased you have taken some time off work and arranged to see your therapist. More now than ever you need to practice self care. You sound strong Lily. I am pleased you are still sober. Much Love Tori xxx

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  4. Brave! You did the right thing, no doubt. My BIL has Asperger’s, and it has taken years for the family to find harmony, but we have. I love my BIL, quirks and all. I don’t undedsdAnd why anyone would call someone fat and useless…. That doesn’t help the person, only hurts them. Your sobriety has freed your son too šŸ˜ŠšŸ’œšŸ’œšŸ’œšŸ’œ

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  5. My son is autistic, I only had him diagnosed when he was 10. I knew he was different but I was so protective of him that I was blind to any diagnosis. Eventually it hit me in the face and we had him assesed. I have tried to socialise my son in to various groups, mostly kids are kind, polite but he never truely had a real friend. This year I have sent him to a group specifically for Autistic teenagers and I have seen the light come on for him. He has friends, he laughs, he looks forward to going.
    I read your story and my heart broke because I simply can’t imagine how I would have ever coped without the support of my husband who loves him equally. To be ridiculed and called names by a father figure is just cruel.
    I really hope that you and your son can repair some of the damage by giving him a home where he is free to be himself without fear or ridicule.

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  6. Oh Lily, if this ex comes back I’m gonna come down there myself and kick him back out! You’ve got to forgive yourself, there’s nobody else to do it. I was a terrible mum to my eldest because I drank so much, but I’m trying to forgive myself as torturing myself is not getting me anywhere. Be proud of what you’re doing now. Having kids is the hardest thing in the world, we all cock it up somewhere or other x

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  7. I can so feel your anguish as a mother. But your love for him comes across so powerfully in this post that I can feel the healing and direction and positive change that you provide him with. With a mother like this as his foundation, he will thrive. ; )

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  8. Thank you. It helps to know that others have acknowledged their faults as parents and forgiven themselves. I imagine it will take some time, but I am here with him now, and he really needs me – lily šŸŒ·

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