Your Kid Is “Special,” Deal With It

Sometimes I wonder if I’m cut out to be a mom. I thought that I’d be better at parenting than I am. I thought I’d be a super content mother. And I never thought I’d be thinking Are you fucking kidding me? so often.

Yesterday, when my two-year old managed to open a pencil sharpener and dump two years worth of pencil shavings all over himself and our kitten, I found myself (once again) questioning the sanity of having children.

The thought went through my head again this morning when that very same toddler dumped a Danimals sugar drink smoothie over his head and just sat there watching it drip down his face.

After I got that cleaned up, the little guy was still hungry, naturally, because none of the yogurt ever made it to his mouth.

So, I served him up some bacon and ketchup and asked my eight-year old daughter to watch him closely so I could go to the bathroom.

Clearly that didn’t work out so well. I ended up washing the ketchup out of his hair in the super dirty bathtub. Do you know how long it takes to get that vinegar smell out of hair? A long, long time.

To cap that off, in the time between drying the little guy off and finding clean clothes in the laundry room, he crapped on the living room floor. Again. As I said, he has no remorse. He is a repeat offender.

I keep telling myself: You signed up for this, so stop your whining. I mean, really, aside from being messy, my two-year old is an easy kid. He’s a sweet pea.

I think what shocks me at times is the fact that I skipped so optimistically into parenthood.

I had no inkling that I was rolling the dice in a genetic crap shoot. Never did I consider that my children could be anything other than “normal,” even though I am a total freak and I come from a long line of odd ducks.

(I was also blissfully ignorant of the fact that I would never sleep well again, poop by myself again, have unstained clothing again, take regular showers, have a day free of worry again…)

The fact that my daughter isn’t the typical kid took a while to really sink in. She was a super cute baby, but not cuddly. She didn’t make eye contact, she didn’t engage with the other toddlers. She bit my mother on the nose when my mother tried to go in for a hug.

I always wanted to have a daughter. My mom and I were tight, and I had fantasies of pedicures, lunches out, shopping, girl talk. I wanted a sweet mother-daughter relationship.

But my girl didn’t have the ability to relate in the way that I wanted her to. She was the child who toddled away from the other kids and sat examining the bark of a tree, a pile of leaves, or a wooden fence for as long as possible.

It seemed that my girl was in her own little world most the time. She wanted to taste everything with her tongue (walls, doorknobs, toys) and to feel everything with her chubby little fingers. She could stare at a leaf swaying in the breeze for an hour. But show interest in people? Not so much.

Now, eight years later, my daughter has come a long way. She has had lots of therapy. She has friends, and though they often confuse her, she really loves them.

Her little world often doesn’t include me unless she needs a snack or someone to yell at or needs to tell someone about a glitch in a computer game.

To her I am the über dork. I am embarrassing. I am a pain in the ass. The way I give her attention pisses her off.

Don’t ask me about my day! Why are you so interested in me?! The smallest comment can set her off on an hour-long screaming fit.

Every time my girl walks by me I want so badly to scoop her up and kiss her. When she sits beside me on the sofa I want to cuddle her up. But for the most part, affection is not her thing.

What I am finally learning is that I have to let my daughter define our relationship. I am looking for ways she shows affection, Ruby-style.

I am learning to redefine my idea of a mother-daughter relationship. It is hard some days. But I can see the amazing gifts my daughter brings to the world. And, I can see that I need to grow alongside her rather than just bitching and moaning as she continues to develop and change.

It might take many bottles of wine, and I will probably be thinking Are you fucking kidding me? every day, but I’m in for the long haul. Kvetching included.