Also known as “Hello, PTSD, it’s been a while.”
I should start my saying that I always thought that other mothers were being completely melodramatic when they claimed that they cried after dropping their child off at preschool or daycare. I couldn’t imagine that it would be hard to indulge in some child-free shopping or maybe even just take a nap. The only thing I could figure was that they must love their kids more than me or something. It’s not like I think it’s easy to leave your child, but crying? I think not. Crying is for real tragedies.
So it took me by complete surprise today when I felt myself breaking down as I drove away from Charlie’s school.
I’ve left Charlie before–with my parents, my brother, my husband’s parents. I’ve been on trips without him. It’s not like I don’t know how to function without my child. I am, in fact, capable of coherent thought on other topics and I pride myself on not being one of those women who can, on occasion, go get a drink, have a laugh, and not ram my special needs mommy persona down your throat. I’m fun like that.
I realized, though, that I’ve never left him with strangers and when I dropped Charlie off this morning, our complicated history came up behind me and smacked me with a frying pan.
The day after Charlie was born, I called the Children’s Hospital to check on him from my own tres glamorous hospital bed. I was recovering from a C-section and couldn’t be with him all day. When I called, I identified myself to the nurse, there was some muffled talking in the background, and then she came back on the line and told me that it would be best if I came right away–the news wasn’t good.
From that moment on, I have never really trusted the people who care for Charlie. If is was bad, why didn’t they call me? Why did I have to call them? Reasonably I know that they may have wanted to do it in person or maybe they hadn’t had time yet. I know that in my mind, but my gut tells me that strangers can’t be trusted. After that moment, I made sure that someone I knew was with Charlie all the time. In the early days there were round-the-clock vigils. As he began to pull out of the woods, I would call whenever I woke up in the middle of the night to pump milk. Deep-down I was scared that my baby would die and I wouldn’t know until it was too late.
If I look over the last three years, it’s easy to see that I never regained that trust of “the experts.” I consult them, I consider their opinions, but in the end, I only trust myself.
After I dropped Charlie off I came home, curled up in a ball in my bed and had a couple of nightmares about mis-managed special needs classrooms where children run amok. I was, of course, the incompetent teacher complete with coming to work in my pajamas. That’s only slightly better than the dreams where I go to work without any pants on and then try convince people it’s just the latest look.
I picked up Charlie at the end of the day and he was fine. He can’t talk, but I suspect that he rather enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the classroom. I think that summer has been boring for him. Me, on the other hand, well, I tried not to cry a second time.
Some days I find out that I’m not as evolved as I think.