People who equate truth with fact are missing the point.

Brain, Child

The winter issue of Brain, Child has not hit the stands yet, but subscribers must have gotten it this week (I haven’t even seen it myself, yet!). The response I’ve gotten so far to the article I wrote, titled “Love With Teeth”, has been positive and heartbreaking.

I anticipated (an am still braced for) negative messages. You don’t go around publicly expressing the feelings I did in that article and expect not to get some hate mail. It’s a cultural taboo, to talk about hate, regret, and rage when speaking of one’s children.

But so far, the emails and notes I’ve received are reminiscent of the comments I heard in the mothers’ groups I led and wrote about: parenting can sometimes be a profoundly difficult, soul-sucking enterprise. I hope that, in adding my voice to the growing number of writer-mothers who attempt to tell the truth about parenting (especially parenting high-needs children), I’ve offered some solace. There are certainly no guarantees that everything will turn out all right. Carter is far more symptomatic now than he was as an infant and toddler, the period of his life that I wrote about in the article. Life is harder and scarier in many ways than it was then. The only comfort there is for those of us living this life, with high needs, special needs, or disabled (choose your adjective) children, is the knowledge that our reactions are almost certainly normal, and that we’re not alone.

So I’ll say it again, and as often as I need to: thinking about throwing the baby through the window is not the same as doing it. That thought, in fact, seems to be nearly universal. If you came here because you’ve had, or are currently living, a similar experience, you have more sympathy than I can possibly express.

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8 comments to Brain, Child

  • Adrienne,
    I just finished you essay in Brain, Child this morning with my 2 year old daughter glued to my side.

    I’ve had my own parenting trials (miscarriage, prematurity, a very clingy child) but 14 hour crying jags is a pain I can’t imagine.

    Thank you for sharing this story which is truth for many parents at different times. There are high expectations on mothering these days, including the unrealistic notion that we will *always* like our children. Love, sure, but like, not always.

    Thanks again. I look forward to peeking around your blog now.

  • Thanks, Rachel! I’m peeking around your blog now, too.

  • A friend subscribed me to Brain, Child and yours was the first article in it that I read. And I’ve read several parts of your piece over again, because I really enjoyed your writing and because yours and Carter’s story is so intense and real and hard to believe at once. Thank you for writing it, for sharing it. My ten month old isn’t a high-needs child, but can still relate to the love and hopes and fears. I hope you write more about him…I’d read the book version, for what it’s worth! Hug – ae

  • I was riveted by your piece. Honestly, I started reading it in a long post office line with no idea what I was getting into. Once I sent off my packages, the thing burned a hole in my handbag until I could sit back down in the car to finish it.

    I can’t relate to the unrelenting crying, but I can relate to the intensity of what we did have, which had me teetering on the edge. If my son and I hadn’t both gotten craniosacral therapy (in those new days and still, three years later), I think we both would have lost it. Thank you for sharing your important story in such a powerful way.

  • Adrienne-
    Wow, I just finished your “Love With Teeth” essay in Brain, Child and I can’t stop thinking about it. I can understand your nervousness about sharing this with the world but anyway who criticizes your very-real and palatable emotions has no clue of what you went through. Try to be strong and ignore the ignorant. There are plenty of sympathetic and supportive readers of your craft out here! Best to you and your fam- Renee

  • Lori

    I can’t begin to express how powerful your essay was for me. You put to words all the pain, anguish and guilt I have felt. My high needs babies are now 23 and 7. Yes, it took me that long to try it again. It couldn’t happen twice right? Especially since my first was such a sweet, content little guy.
    Thank you for putting a voice to the experience. -Lori

  • I have kept your essay on my kitchen table for three months now, because I relate. I want to send it to everyone I know and say SEE? SEE? THIS is what I’m talking about.

  • Kelly

    Thank you, thank you for your article. I work in the field of early childhood mental health and can’t wait to share your article with the new “Fussy Baby Network” coming to Colorado. Your article is such a reminder of what we know yet don’t know, and that is that unless we have lived it, we truly have no idea what it is like to have a baby, a child, like Carter. Thank you for helping me to understand that.

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