Saturday, March 29, 2014


"Mom, how many dollars do you have left?" Conor asked me as I came in the door after my 5-day trip. His typical brother and I had gone to Florida for Spring Break, leaving Conor and his father to fend for themselves. (My boys are in separate school systems, so different weeks of Spring Break. It works for us.)

"I don't know, you'll have to ask your dad," I replied wearily, heaving the extra-large black rolling suitcase up and over the step into our foyer. The airline had hung a scarlet tag marked "HEAVY USE CAUTION" on my bag, announcing the shame of my over-packing to everyone whose eye it caught. My yellow carry-on bag fell off my shoulder and clunked onto the wooden floor.

"Mom," he continued, squeezing his hands together. "Mom, how many dollars do you have left?" (He means how much does he have left to spend. He switches pronouns sometimes. Of course, I'm sure my husband truly is wondering how much I have left to spend after 5 days in sunny Florida with our youngest son.)

"Conor, Mom just walked in the door," my husband, Jim, chided gently. "Why don't you say 'hi Mommy, how was your trip?'"

"HiMommyhowwasyourtrip?" Conor said. "How many dollars do you have left?" Jim shook his head.

"Six," my husband said, exasperated. "Conor, you have six dollars left to spend."

"Mom," Conor said, holding his hand out to take mine. "Can you help Conor order off of Clay King a triple light-switch plate for six dollars?"

"Sure, honey," I replied, sighing. I left the bags in the foyer where they landed. Maybe my imaginary butler will magically whisk them away, I thought. "I'll help you."

Coming home after a trip away from Conor is bittersweet for me. I love him, I miss him, but I need that annual break. (My husband gets to golf for a week with his buddies once a year. I get to go on Spring Break with Aidan and one of my closest friends. That's our deal.)

When I return, though, it seems as if Conor doesn't miss me at all. That's what I told my husband that night over a late dinner as the kids were engrossed in America's Funniest Videos.

"It's like he didn't miss me at all," I said to my husband, picking at my food. I felt weary and numb from a day's travel. "It's all about what I need to do for him, what he needs, what he wants me to do." It feels like he only misses what I usually do for him, like he's not missing me for, well, who I am to him. I know it's because of his disorder, of course, but it still hurts my feelings sometimes. As silly as that sounds.

It also didn't help that Conor had FaceTimed me everyday while I was away, sometimes twice. He would sneak away from my husband on his Treasure Chest time and videoconference me before Jim even knew what he was doing.

"I want Mommy to ride the tram while she FaceTimes Conor," he'd ask. (The resort has an electric shuttle, or tram, to take people around the campus. Conor went last year, so he knows exactly what is there.)

"I want Mommy to get ice cream and order cookies-and-cream ice cream and eat it while we FaceTime."

"I want Mommy to buy Conor's t-shirt in the gift shop while we FaceTime." Every time my cell phone rang, it felt like my own Svengali calling to order me around. Show me this, do it that way, do it on my terms.

"He missed you," my husband assured me. "Especially at night when it was your turn to put him to bed. He would ask about you. He missed you, I know he did."

"It doesn't feel like it," I replied, shoveling the food into my mouth. "It doesn't feel like it at all."


Unknown said...

Just read the posts here on this first page. Mine's 8, a little different, but: I feel you. That is all. Emily in NYC.

Alisa Rock said...

Thanks so much for reading!

My relationship with my son can feel so one-sided. It's often quite frustrating.

Unknown said...
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