Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Just Breathe (Deux)

It's still healing.
This past Thursday, I paid $60 plus a tip to a heavily tattooed brother of a friend to carve the word “breathe” permanently into my right wrist. This is my second tattoo

(You know what this means, right? It means I can’t ever have another corporate job.  Or, at least a corporate job wearing short sleeves. This thought is remarkably freeing. I'm a writer now, I put words on the paper and sometimes someone else actually reads them.)

I chose the word “breathe” in an area I can glance at quickly because, you know, I have a tendency to, um, FREAK OUT.

I figured a little reminder to chill out was in order.  Plus, it’s really pretty, like a permanent bracelet.

As I sat in my green camping chair watching Aidan’s baseball game this Saturday, a close friend of mine commented on my new body art.

“I’m a little concerned about what my Mom’s reaction is going to be,” I confided in her.

“You’re 42 years old and you’re still worrying about your mom’s approval?” she laughed.  “C’mon!”

Well, it’s not that I want my mom’s approval necessarily, I suppose.  If I was that worried about her approval, I wouldn’t have married a divorced man eleven years my senior who was—snap—my boss once upon a time. (Although, to be fair, she loves Jim.  How could you not? Everybody loves Jim.  Except his ex-wife, I guess.)

No, she doesn’t have to like it, but it’s not some rebellion thing. I just don’t want a stern talking to. I don’t want her to give me a disapproving look with her arms crossed over her chest.  Worst yet, oh my God, the silent treatment.

Thankfully, my mom's not a yeller.

My friend’s question makes me wonder, though.  Does Conor want my approval?  Does he even care?

My typical kid, if I tell him I’m disappointed, that his behavior was inappropriate or embarrassing, it’s like I’ve whipped the poor kid with a piece of rusty chain-link fence. He wants my approval, he craves it like an addict craves his next high.

But Conor?  Would he have these raging tantrums if he gave a hoot about what I thought?

I don’t think Conor wants my approval.  I’m not sure he even comprehends what that means.  I just don’t know.

He does want me to be happy with him. (Is that the same thing?) He reacts quite strongly if I even intimate that I’m angry with him.  (But not reacting in a good way, oh no.) If I pull away from his incessant neck-grabbing, I swear I see something in his eyes.  But I don’t know what it is. He can’t say.

I know he hates the silent treatment.  He doesn’t like the space I put between us after one of his bursts.  I know I shouldn’t, he has a disability after all.  He may have some control over his behavior but it’s not his fault.  But I can’t help myself. I learned a long time ago that I need a measure of emotional distance, and even physical distance at times.  For my own mental well-being.

But my approval (or lack of it) is not a motivating force.  Or a deterrent, for that matter.  It makes no matter.  He’s motivated by computers and electronics and iPads and aquiring songs and community outings to buy stuff for him. 

It’s always about what he gets. It’s not about what I think or how I feel about it.  It’s about what he wants, what he desires, what he sees. Something concrete, something tangible.  Like a calculator.

He does what he wants, not what he thinks I want.  He’s not being selfish. He just doesn’t even think about what I might want.  It doesn’t occur to him to think of it. I'm not sure he can.

Typical kids, they all want some measure of approval from their parents.  Conor--he doesn't want me to be angry with him, but my approval seems to not matter.

Most of the time, my relationship with Conor feels like a one-way street.  A one-way street (his way, of course) with some dead ends and maybe a couple of cul-de-sacs.  Once in awhile we run into a two-way street, but it's inconsistent. Maybe one day we'll get there, to a more equitable two-way street. But I'm not holding my breath.

As for the tattoo, I think everything will be ok. Hell, between the four Rock girls, we have three tattoos, a nose ring, and a (now-removed) eyebrow ring. We've had purple, somewhat shaved hair, and at least one of us (I’m not saying who) lived with their boyfriend before marriage.

Ok, it was Rachel. She was the one who also shaved a portion of her hair in college, dyed it purple, and had the eyebrow ring.  Leah has a tattoo and a nose ring. Maybe I’m just trying to catch up to my little sisters. I'm just a little late to the party, that's all.


anilia said...

I love it, Alisa. I've thought about getting this tattoo many times. It is beautiful.

Alisa Rock said...

Thanks, Anilia. I always admired the one on your wrist!

Jean said...

Love the tattoo.
I'm thinking of getting it inked to the inside of my eyelids lol XXX

Lizbeth said...

It is lovely. And I needed that reminder today with our IEP in an few hours.

Emilie Christensen said...
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Alisa Rock said...

Aw, Emilie, Conor LOVES Madonna. Borderline is his favorite video. He says so.

Emilie Christensen said...
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Emilie Christensen said...
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Barbara said...

I have thougth many times on this exact topic....Does my son give a hoot about my approval? Most of the time I think not. You are right....it is all about him, but not in a selfish way. Hard to wrap my mind around sometime.