It’s a fact, you don’t make it through life unscathed. It chews you up and spits you out every chance it gets, but no matter what you’ve been through, it’s a special kind of hell watching your child be disappointed, let down, and hurt over and over and over again by people who are supposed to care.
I get heartbreak. It’s been one hell of a quarter century. Your parents don’t get divorced and force you to move away from your home in the middle of your Junior year without some heartbreak. You don’t find out you’re pregnant and give up on your dreams of being a litigator or doctor (I had some HUGE ambitions) without some heartbreak. You don’t consider an abortion, then change your mind, almost die in childbirth, wake up from a surgery that saved your life and left you unable to have children ever again, give up on dating because nobody wants to raise someone else’s kid in their early 20’s to God only knows at what age that’s not a problem anymore, without ever having the option of having their own children and you just can’t take that rejection again, raise a kid completely on your own, and do everything you can to make sure that kid is never at a loss for life’s necessities without some freaking heartbreak.
My kid has an amazing extended family on my side. They included him in everything and always made every effort to make him feel important. The situation on the other side of the DNA couldn’t have been a more stark contrast though, and I couldn’t stand the thought of him thinking they didn’t care, so every Christmas, and every birthday, there was always something from Grandma Voldemort. (Obviously that’s not her name, and I’d call her Grandma Satan, but there were like 10 times in 19 years that she was actually kind to him.) “Grandma V” always sent gifts for Christmas. “Grandma V” always sent money in a card for his birthday. I carried on that charade for WAY longer than I ever should have had to. Back up….I never should have had to carry on that charade, because Grandma V should have ACTUALLY done those things. Still, it worked, because my kid thought Grandma V was a saint. He was under my carefully constructed illusion that she cared.
Grandma V was right up there on that pedestal that his dad was on, and every time he slips in to asshole mode and tells me that he had a horrible childhood, that he didn’t get to do ANYTHING fun growing up, that he “practically raised himself” because I was at work all the time, that it’s my fault he didn’t have a dad at home growing up, or anyone that wanted to be around me enough to act like a dad to him because I’m a bitch, I fight back the tears, and the urge to completely shatter his image of both of them. I’ve spent almost 2 decades wishing they would fall off that damn pedestal. For nearly 2 decades, I’ve wanted to be able to say to them “That first step off your high horse is going to be a bitch honey. Tuck and roll.”
I think they’ve finally stumbled. I don’t think the ground that pedestal is on is as firm as it once was, and the worst part about it is that instead of finally feeling vindicated, my mom heart is breaking in to a million pieces again. It kills me to have him call and ask “Did I get a card from Nana today,” or “Did I get any mail,” knowing full well that I didn’t send it this year, and she probably didn’t either. All I want to do is tell him the truth when he says “maybe it got lost in the mail,” but the truth is, his birthday was over a week ago, and even though someone (probably the other half of his DNA) has him under the impression that he’s getting one, that card just isn’t coming.
“Yeah bud, it’s probably lost in the mail,” I repeat back to him, because I get heartbreak, and I’m not going to be the one who breaks his.