Her Bad Mother

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Brother By Any Other Name

My brother, he has a name, a real name, a name that was given to him by the man and woman who became his true parents, a name that carried him through childhood and adolescence and high school and on into adulthood, a name that he probably learned to write by tracing its letters in pencil on lined scribblers, a name that he he probably scrawled on desktops and in the backs of math textbooks, a name that he has no doubt signed on countless cheques and contracts and letters. He has a name. It is not the name my mother gave him.

I know this name, now. Knowing this name makes feel both closer to him, and further away. Closer, because knowing his name will help me find him. Further away, because it is the name of a stranger, and sometimes I forget that it is a stranger I am looking for. A stranger who might have no idea that he has a birth sister (sisters), and a birth mother whose heart aches when she thinks of him. A stranger who might not care.

I have to remind myself that this story might not have a happy ending. I have to remind myself that, sometimes, an unhappy ending is better than no ending at all.

And so I press on.

I won't be sharing his name here. I had thought that I might, thinking that people publish classified ads all the time, looking for lost family, lost friends, lost strangers. But this space isn't a classified ad, and because he is a stranger - with name and a life that are all his own - I need to keep his name out of my story. If you have an opinion on this, either way, I'd love to hear it. The temptation to post his name was strong - someone, somewhere, knows him, and among the many visitors to this blog there must be some degree of connection to him - and although I believe that the decision to keep his name private is right, I'd love to hear what everybody else thinks. I want to do what is right. I also kinda want to talk it out.

Another question - because I am lost here, and your support and advice have done much to light my way so far - once one has narrowed down some possibilities - by name, and not just by the guesswork I was doing the other week - how does one approach a stranger with a story like this? How does one say, I found you by this name; were you once called by another name? Does one write? Does one call? Does one message via Facebook? Does one send word by carrier pigeon?

I'm lost.

(Note: if anyone is mean in the comments, like last time - and by mean I don't mean critical - you're allowed to give your honest opinion, even if you think I might not like it. I mean MEAN - I will close comments again. This topic is too sensitive for me. I want feedback, but don't tell me that you think I'm a selfish, insensitive attention-whore for telling this story.)

(Oh, and? My computer problems are soon to be rectified. HP thought that my circumstances represented a great opportunity - because they are interested in simplifying moms' lives, and I am a mom whose life became, with the death of her computer, very complicated - for me to roadtest, on a lending basis, one of their new notebooks. Which is kind of poetic, because it was an HP notebook that Jasper murdered. So it's kind of like getting a Labradoodle puppy to replace your old Labradoodle who died when the baby pushed him off the couch. Sort of. If that Labradoodle puppy were just on loan and was wireless compatible.)

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Law & Order: Special Technology Victims Unit

Yesterday, a murder was committed in my household. In a moment of fleeting and senseless violence, my beloved companion - let's call her Hewlett Packard PC Notebook, although I was usually wont to call her Buttercup - was brutally and fatally attacked. The perpetrator? Jasper, who in a fit of baby frustration grabbed her and pummeled her and flung her to the floor, where, with a flicker and a hiss, she died. As an infant, he cannot be held criminally responsible, but he does face at least twenty years of being regularly reminded of that time he killed Mommy's computer and Mommy had a nervous breakdown.

I am bereft, I am bereft. Also, I am living in the Dark Ages. It's quiet here. (It's a Dark Ages with smartphones and wired public libraries, but still. I AM WITHOUT LAPTOP. I might as well be without arms.)

(No, not without arms. WITHOUT AIR. I am trapped in an airless box with only teeny holes and a drinking straw through which to suck oxygen from the outside world. A drinking straw, and not the bendy kind. And its ends are all chewed up and flattened and OH GOD I CANNOT GET AIR.)


So, my laptop was murdered and I am seriously, seriously limited in my connectivity. Which is, you know, a disaster, because my livelihood depends upon that connectivity and seriously, how is one supposed to make one's living as a writer in the Internet Age when one is equipped only with a smartphone and a library card? (You try battling teenagers for the Internet-connected computers in the library. They're jonesing for their MySpace, and they will cut you to get it. Or at least they have that look about them.) And in the meantime, I have articles to write, books to pitch, posts to post, and a brother to look for (I've just learned his real name, which gives me something to search for at the precise moment that I am unable to do electronic searching. Wherefore art thou, Google?) And my husband is going tomorrow to have his boy parts snipped and I'm all ambivalent and confused about that and really kinda need to write it out but gah. Am thwarted. Am thwarted and bereft and lost.

(Also can't read online commentary about Lost.)

(Shoot me now.)

*Also can't monitor comments, so. This post will have to remain a comment-free cry in the dark.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Needful Things

Jasper came into the world with a bang, in a hulksmash explosion of blood and birthmatter and pain. And when they handed him to me - he, as full and round and alert as a baby many times his age - he reached for me and clung and suckled with the same ferocious determination that had propelled him so explosively from my womb.

He clung to me and suckled and grew and grew and grew. I ached, and bled, pummelled and raw from his insistent thirst. I ached and bled, and loved.

I called him Truffler, because at night he would snort and burrow, seeking out my breast with his nose and mouth, never opening his eyes, never waking, just drinking, sucking, snorfling until he had his fill. In the light of day, eyes open, he would use his hands, grabbing and kneading and pinching and gazing up at me, an adorable little beastie, ravenous and innocent and impossibly, impossibly soft, and I would wonder: how can a creature that brings such pain inspire such tenderness? Why do I not push him away?

I could not push him away. I could no more push him away than I could tear through my ribcage and rip out my heart. And so I pulled him to me, time and again, and exulted in the soft curves of his fat baby legs and his rounded baby belly and his plush baby bum, and smiled through the pain and exhaustion and wished, fervently, that this would never end. I pulled him to me and clung to him and drank in his babyness like a draught, knowing, in my gut, that someday, I would miss this, crave this, yearn for this like the parched soul yearns for cool water. And so I drank it in, in big, greedy gulps, matching his thirst with my own.

Even when the exhaustion became unbearable, I resisted pulling away. Even when he started to bite, I resisted pulling away. I tottered and spun from the exhaustion; my breasts bled from his painful nips: still I perservered, determined to preserve this, his babyness, his need for me. Even when it hurt, this need, I clung to it, I clung to it, unwilling - unable? - to let go. That he refused bottles was, in my tired mind, a kind of victory: he would have only me. He wanted only me. His need kept him young; his need kept him mine.

I drank his need like a draught.

When he finally took a bottle - a good thing, I agreed with my husband, a good thing that he be able to get nourishment from someone other than me, a good thing that I could be separated from him for a night, a good thing that he not need me so relentlessly - I recognized the moment as a victory. I could sleep through the night. I could leave him for more than a few hours at a time. I could wear a bra that did not feature clip-up flaps. I could go a day without being bitten. I could reacquaint myself with my body as my own.

I could move - I can move, now - through the day and through the night without experiencing myself as an object of need. This is good. I love it; I celebrate it; I thank the gods for it. But is it wrong to say - even as I recognize that he will outgrow that need, even as I acknowledge that he must outgrow that need, even as I celebrate my freedom from that need - that I still need him, that I am thirsty for his need of me?

Is it wrong that I cling to his babyness like an infant to a breast, that, in moments, I must fight the urge to paw and truffle and cling, to bury my nose in the sweet, soft folds of his neck and whisper, you are mine? Is it wrong that I have moments of wanting to press him to me and wish ourselves back to the first months of his life, when his need was unquenchable, indisputable? Is it wrong that I have moments of wishing that I could freeze time here and keep him as he is, or as he was a few weeks ago, my needful creature? Is it wrong that while I celebrate, quietly, ambivalently, his weaning, I mourn the growth, the movement toward his independence from me that this weaning represents? Is it wrong that I wish, sometimes, that I could keep him like this, a baby, my baby, forever?

This is the way his babyhood ends, not with a bang but a whisper.

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