Wednesday, March 20, 2013
SLICE # 20- CALL ME MOM
The boys knew me first as Ms. Wilcox. The assistant principal. The lady they talked to when they got in trouble at school. Which was relatively often.
When they came to live with me, I told them they could call me mom or mommy or mother. Son #2 wrote a story in his second grade writers' notebook about how he was going to live with me and call me mamma. He spelled it that way. With two m's in the middle.
A dear friend does foster care, and her babies call her, Miss Deb, or Mama Deb. I suggested that my boys could call me Mama Carol. Nope.
Kids at school call me Ms. Carol or sometimes Dr. Carol. I suggested my boys could use that moniker. Nope.
The football players call me Ms. Carol or sometimes Mom Carol. Nope.
My boys don't call me any of those things.
To them, I'm Ms. Wilcox.
When they talk about me to other people, they say "my mom." My mom says she can do a parent teacher conference at 3 on Thursday. She'll just take off work. OR Sure, my mom would be happy to drive us to a field across town and sit there for three hours at noon in the middle of July while we scrimmage. Or when Son #1 was in middle school, "My mom would be happy to bake a Tres Leches cake for our class food festival. She bakes them all the time." (Not!)
But the boys never call me "Mom" to my face.
It's not that I haven't tried. That first summer I reminded them, more than once, actually probably about a million times, that they could call me Mom. Several different therapists have set that as a goal. Even football coaches have encouraged the boys to call me Mom.
My boys, especially the older one, respond, "Love you too," when I tell them I love them. My boys do give me hugs. They do send an occasional "love you" text (if they want money).
But our relationship is a curious and distant thing. I am their mom, but only kind of. I do all the things a regular mom does, or at least I think I do, but even now, after ten years, I'm still not exactly a real mom. When I write notes or cards to the boys, I never quite know how to sign them. Should I sign them, Love you, Mom? Or do I sign, Love you, Ms. Wilcox?
The therapist holds up her two index fingers. Moves them until they are side by side, touching.
"The normal parent/child relationship is like this, Carol."
She pulls her fingers away from each other, until half an inch separates them.
"The relationships of a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) are like this. They don't let people get that close to them. They are too afraid. It has nothing to do with you, or how you parent. It has to do with a life that happened long before you ever knew the boys."
A life where no one comforted them when they cried. Or fed them when they were hungry. Or cared for them when they were sick.
And even though I have been there for over 3000 days, and helped with thousands of pages of math homework, and washed a million uniforms, and answered billions of phone calls and text messages, I am still Ms. Wilcox.
I probably always will be.
And I have accepted that. And let it go.
But if I'm really honest, I wish that my boys would call me Mom.