He is Mine.

He arrived unwillingly
Wrinkled and bleary-eyed
Full of hopes and dreams
(Mine, not his own)
First steps late 
but he has never been on anyone else’s schedule 
Grew, platinum curls that he hated 
having brush against his ears
There’s something wrong
People would say
He’s slow. He’s different. He’s --

Teach me how to forgive
All of the people
Who tried to exorcise
Non-existent demons
From my frightened child
Who laid their hands out and
Prayed over a little boy who
Hated being touched
Who interpreted his panicked screams
As spirits leaving his body 
Who told me that I was a bad Mother 
because children are all the same 
He is not the same!
He is Mine.
Angry and unstable and manic and
Loving and perfect and 

14 years of Doctors and
Therapists and tests and
The sharp sound of paper being
Ripped off of prescription pads
Horseback riding and
Art projects and
Shattered windows 
The disorientation 
of the everyday 
Covering his eyes
When something was too loud
Walking into doors
With hands over his ears 
Because his signals are crossed and 
the sunlight hurts too much 
to watch where he’s going 
Imitating sirens that he
Was simultaneously terrified by
Lining up toys according to color
Spinning with them
Flapping and jumping and
Bolting out the door into
Parking lots because it’s too
Hard to think straight when
The world is overwhelming you again

Emergency room visits 
Suspicious glances
They’re studying my face.
Look them in the eye.
They think I did this to him.
They’re going to call CPS.
They’re going to take him.
They can’t take him. He’s Mine.
I can’t breathe!

Desperation and defeat
In the car
In the dark
In the kitchen
Begging a god that
I never got anywhere with 
To take all of the outbursts 
and rage 
and seizures
and sensitivity
And make them my burden

Too much energy spent on
Learning how to wear
A smile that I don’t identify with
On having an unwavering reply 
At the ready
How are you guys doing?
Barely able to get through the days.
I have nothing left to give.
I need you to see me. See him.
See how much we need help.
Somebody please just help us.
“We’re doing well! Yours?”
Holding back the anger and
The jealousy and the tears 
When you tell me how 
hard life is for you because 
your Honor Roll students 
have such busy schedules and 
You don’t get to have dinner together as often as you’d like 

He is 14 years old and
He is stunning and
He is Mine
And I wish he knew
How hard that I have worked
To move mountains for him
How much sweat and sleep and tears
I have given up as a sacrifice 
How I would do it all again

I learned how to remove the
Stitches from my child’s body
Wrists and legs and ankles and
There will be more
And we should go in for a follow-up
But I spent our copay on
So hop up on the table and
Hold still while I pull the thread out

He sleeps next to me while I sneak
Traces of his face and arms
Grazing his skin with my fingertips
He flinches during the waking hours
I will never touch his thoughts
His incredible brain
Is a maze full of tripwires
And I am imperfect and heavy-handed

Mine, not his own
Maybe both of ours
(Like mother, like son?)
I shut down
I pushed everyone out
Emotions are only relevant if you
Choose to entertain them
Apathetic is no way
To live but
The only way
To survive
Admitting to the heartbreak and
The weight of having a child
Who is afforded no space
In an unrelenting society
Is staggering
And yet I will carry him forever
Through this world and
The next
Through Death
As he screams
“Mommy! Save me!”
From miniscule
That only he can see but
I will still turn the earth on its side
To rescue him from a shower head
Or a butterfly needle or 
An imagined injustice

He is in my bones
He is etched onto my soul
I spend too much
Time calculating
Punnett Squares in my brain 
Is this my fault?
Genotypes and chromosomes
And why couldn’t he have just 
Inherited my eye color instead? 
What kind of mother gifts 
Her son mental illness?
Happy birthday
And you read this and think
That I am too tired
That I don’t want to go on
But it is the opposite
I fight and claw and
Bleed and get back up
He deserves nothing
Less than that from the
Person who catapulted
Him into this mess
I don’t want your pity
I want you to see
Him on his worst days and
Still choose to love him and
Give him space and
Give him another chance
More chances than you
Think he deserves
Do not give up on him
He is more than this
He is so much more than his meltdowns
It is my fault
Hate me instead
He arrived unwillingly
Without knowledge
Of what I was getting him into
Be gentle with him 
He is perfect 
He is Mine.

--Ashley H., Adult