When I was eight, I had pneumonia again. She was in and out of the hospital; I spent spans of time alone. I remember being terribly frustrated that I couldn't write or draw because they'd put the IV in my right arm, which they then strapped to a board. I was not a good kid anymore at that point. Because of the bad shit. (I sometimes wonder if Elayna is what I would have been like, at any given age, had the bad shit not happened.)
When I was sixteen, I tried to kill myself. Pills, and lots of them. I don't remember being in the ambulance; I was probably unconscious. I remember being in the ER, and being told that I had to drink activated charcoal. I refused. They started to put a tube down my nose. I acquiesced. After that, I spent a few days in the ICU, and a few days in pediatrics. In the ICU, they wouldn't give me anything at all to start with. I just watched the clock. Finally, they gave me a legal pad and a pen. And I started to write Shayara. My mom did not visit at all.
When I was twenty-one, I gave birth to Elayna. My mom cut the cord. She was there constantly, and had all of her friends visit, to the point that some of them never made it into the room, because I was only allowed four visitors in the room at a time, I think; some just sent gifts in through the nurses.
I'm thirty-two, and I'm about to go into the hospital, and my mom is coming up to help take care of Elayna. (And distract her, frankly.) And we'll see how much time she spends with me, and how it is.
I believe that my mother has come to care, in the face of all of this. I'm not the child she wanted. That's clear. And I think it took her some time to deal with that and accept that, nonetheless, I'm the child she has.
(She called the other day. When I hung up, I said to Gwyn, "Notice how I didn't say 'I love you too?' That's because she doesn't tell me she loves me. Ever. And that's why I tell Elayna every damn day that I love her.")
She doesn't know how to express it. When she came with me to a neurologist appointment, and my neuro explained to her how dire things are, she responded by cleaning my house and doing research for me on stuff I needed to get done. This is how I know it affected her. She didn't ever tell me outright. I don't think she knows how.
I don't know why. I don't know what triggers are in her brain, in her past, that prevent her from saying "I love you" or "I worry about you". I've had to train myself to read the signs.
She sent us a check the other day, to cover Elayna's school supplies and "anything else [we] might need". Which is not something she does. So. There's a sign to be read.
The problem is that, save the check, my mother does not know how to express concerns. She does it in a very passive-aggressive way or a very combative way. So when expressing concern over our Boston move, instead of saying "Have you thought about [possible problem]?", she presents it in a very aggressive way that reads as "All of your decisions are stupid and wrong." And I try to remain calm and be patient, because I know it's coming from a place of concern, but that's really difficult when I'm under constant attack.
So we'll see how this goes. If she swings toward uber-helpful or uber-combative.
I am very aware that I'm not the kid she wanted. That's... not a happy way to grow up. And it's part of why I make it very clear to Elayna that she's exactly the kid I wanted, and that I love her intensely. And if, gods forbid, she was in the hospital, I'd be by her side the entire time. I couldn't not be. Every moment I wasn't there for her would break my heart.
And, come to think of it, I'm actually a little sorry for my mom, that she has not experienced love like that.