And grown in every aspect. His temper tantrums still arise from time to time, but yesterday's freak out was the first in 3 weeks. He does so well most days that I think it's practically vital for him to get these emotions out once in a while. His little body must still contain so many inexplicabe feelings. This afternoon, he had tried to run out of the backyard gate, and was not happy with me when I brought him inside to go over the rules again. He tried to run off inside the house, presumably to cry or be angry on his own, usually a choice that we encourage. But he was fully dressed in his snow clothes- coat, hat, gloves, snow pants, boots- and had snow covering him from the snow angels he had made. When I wouldn't let him run through the house until he got out of his snow gear, he exploded...hating to be restrained when he wanted to run. I forced him out of his clothes, and it quickly became a control battle with his little hands holding on to his snow pants with all his might, refusing to take them off. As it became clear they were coming off no matter what, he began to kick and punch. I kicked off my boots and lugged him to his room, trying to protect my face from his scrambling hands and my body from his flailing legs.
In his rage, he is like a little wildcat, striking out at anything and everything. I hate doing it, but I restrain him, until I feel confident that when I let him go he will not attack me, bite me, or throw any toys at my head. Sometimes it is enough to enrage me, this battle of control that I MUST WIN. Or I am overwhelmed with guilt at how I have to manhandle him. Sometimes it is almost comical, him trying to express his anger by throwing anything, even his socks. There are times the good times, I can see what it is. I can see his little brain furious at me for being in control, for setting hard limits and for saying no to him. I understand his anger, and I know that he is working hard to contain those most primitive of impulses, to fight. And in moments when he is not screaming, I can say very calmly, "No biting mama. No hitting mama. I am your mother and you need to listen to me". And then yesterday he said it. I knew one day he would say it. But it still shocked me.
"You are not my mother!!!"
And 20 thoughts simultaneously flew through my head. Is this just a gut reaction in anger? Is he testing me? Does he really think I'm not his mother or that he can un-adopt himself? Does he even know that "mother" is another word for "mom"? I was shocked, but not hurt. If being his mother means I tell him what to do, then he wanted no part of it. I didn't get into a "yes I am- no you're not" battle with him, I just let it go. He began calming down- first he got control of his body, but not his anger. He sat in a little ball, far away from me, his arms wrapped protectively around himself. He was no longer screaming but he had a deep frown on his face. He looked at me and said his usual " you no nice". I have chosen to respond little to his verbal anger. I just let it be, let him say what comes out. Usually some switch flips, and he looks up, bright and blinking, and says " I say sorry now".
And once again I was thinking of my girlfriend, who was adopted as an infant, and how she never had an open dialogue with her mother her entire life. I hate the thought of that. Fort will have so many unanswerable questions, but I want him to always have the freedom and the confidence to ask. The questions cannot sit in his gut, swirling around, creating insecurity or low self esteem. And so I started the conversation, so that he will hopefully come to me when things start to trouble him.
I am your mother, Fort. I will always be your mother and you will always be my son. I will love you whether you are angry or happy with me, and I will never leave you. I may not love some of the things you do or the choices you make, but I will always love YOU.
I don't know what parts he hears. But he hugged me so tight. He said I love you Mama. I think we will have this conversations many times in during the next few years. But I will say it as often as he needs to hear it. Loving him is the easy part.