My expectation was that I would raise my children from childhood, through adolescence, and all the way until they were grown. I expected that I would always love them and they would always love me, and if (when) we hit bumps in the road, that we would come out on the other side, perhaps battered, but bound to each other.
Instead, we ran into one of those bumps and it was infinitely more sinister than the bumps I had imagined: when my two eldest children were six and 8 years old, their younger brother was born. He roared into the world with cacophony and chaos in his wake, with problems that wouldn’t be fully diagnosed until he was 7, and my inability to cope in any reasonable way with their brother meant my other children were stranded on the cusp of adolescence without a mother. I was there, making the dental appointments and going to the parent/teacher conferences and supervising homework, but I wasn’t present with them the way I had been. As we rounded the corner into the third year of my youngest son’s life, I lost my emotional footing and I came apart. I was living the biggest crisis I had ever experienced up to that point and I crumbled.