Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Learning to Float

I've been grinding my teeth at night, Baroy tells me. I've also been snappish and moody and sensitive to even the most innocuous remark, though he wisely has refrained from pointing those out to me. I suppose you could call it PMS, since I will, in fact, get my period sometime in the next couple of weeks, but really, I think that's stretching the definition a bit. I'm just feeling pissy, is all. Or, rather, pissy and distracted and anxious and distant and angry. Yep. You definitely want me at your next party. No doubt about that.

I know what it's about: I'm worrying about N. What I'm doing for him. What I'm not doing for him. What decisions need to be made. What decisions should be put off for a while. How aggressively to follow my impulses and pursue answers about the things that hinder him. How aggressively to fight those impulses so as not to pathologize what are otherwise normal little-kid traits. I'm worried that I'm not going to find the answers I need, and so will not be able to help him be all he can be. I'm worried that what I'm actually doing is actively working to destroy the very traits that make N N, that will make him successful in life. I'm worrried that by spending so much energy and emotional time trying to find answers to questions that may not need to be asked, I'm in danger of actually preventing him from being all he can be.

I'm worried. I'm very worried. And there's no way for me to be sure, at any point along the road, that what I'm doing is right. As I've said to many people in these last few weeks, there is no controlled experiment here. I don't get to raise N twice--once during which I intervene, and once during which I don't--to see how things turn out. And so I need to take the path less likely to harm him in the end. And that's intervention. I think.

And so, today I'll be returning to the office of the speech therapist who assessed him last week and said he has no articulation problems, but that she has "other concerns" about him. And then, after that meeting, I'll be making an appointment for him to see a developmental pediatrician at our local children's hospital who, thanks to N's I-can-make-it-happen pediatrician (whose babies I really want to have at this point, I love her so), is now just waiting for my call. And I have the information for a place where other assessments can be done as well, and which is exactly the sort of place I'm looking for to fill in the gaps, should they need filling in.

None of this, however, has done anything to calm my mood or assuage my fears. And all this worry has been coloring my interactions with my little boy, who I love with such intensity, such fullness that I feel sometimes like I can't breathe. I hate looking at him and seeing a swirl of possible diagnoses; I despise the ongoing narrative in my head that dissects his every move, our every interaction, to see where it fits in the always-evolving schema of 'what is wrong with N.'

What it comes down it is that this all feels so big. No matter how much I stuff it down, no matter how hard I try to push it away, it's there, and it's huge. It's an enormous presence in my life. And even though I have support--oh my, do I have support, from all corners of the globe--ultimately, the weight is on my shoulders. The decisions are mine; what happens to N right now is my responsibility alone. It's simply mothering, but magnified.

Last week, I watched N fall into a shallow pond, and I knew what needed to be done. He was face-down in water; when he lifted his head, he called for me. I knew that he needed help, or he could drown, even though the water was shallow. And I knew how to help. I knew what to do. But now, it's less clear. I think he does need rescuing, but maybe not. He's not calling my name, or at least I can't hear it. I don't know how deep the water is. I don't know if he's really face down, or if instead he's just floating on his back, watching the clouds, learning how to be. If I reach down and haul him out of the water now, am I a hero? Or am I simply an interfering, overprotective mother, who refuses to allow her son to learn how to float, to live, on his own.

He's so little. This is so huge. I'm not sure I'm up to the task.

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