This morning I found a note from my oldest son’s (he’s nine) teacher detailing all the homework assignments he’s missed. All of them. He’s been lying to me for weeks and scritching by with very little- I guess little enough for her to not contact me until now. Each day I ask, “Any homework tonight?” kind of wondering about this new school (“We can do it in class mom.”) and on one hand thinking how cool it is that he can do his work in class and finish it and feeling that uneasy somethin’ ain’t right feeling but believing him because what on earth else would I do?

He gets harder and harder to reach, harder to understand. Whereas a year ago he wouldn’t have been able to keep a thing from me now he can keep secrets. I wish I could take the hard nuggets of hurt he already bears and tell him to put those down- they aren’t made of gold but of worry and ache and they get heavy. I wish I could show him that what he thinks is tough will only break his very own heart, and not anyone else’s. I wish I could show him what my life as a liar was like. I wish he didn’t feel like he deserved what he gets, that he could feel light for once. More than once.

It makes me think about the future.

There is this rock in my gut. This rock of sad and hurt and wonder. Why would he do that? Why wouldn’t I know better? Why didn’t his teacher say something a month ago? All the why in the world doesn’t change it. God, it won’t change it. It won’t change the fact that now maybe I never completely believe him again. Isn’t that dramatic. (He is nine, after all.) And also maybe true.

As we drove home from school I felt it in my heart how my own parents must have felt when I lied to them countless times. How many times did my own mother sob quietly beside me on the way home and I never ever noticed? How many times did I lie until I broke her heart right in pieces over and over again but she still loved me anyway? How many times did my father look at me, knowing I was lying, and just stand there not knowing what to do? Not knowing how to open his own heart and show me his hurt.

Immediately I want to shoulder all the blame: I didn’t ask enough, I didn’t do enough, listen enough, see enough, be enough, I wasn’t tough enough or too tough, I wasn’t enough of whatever mother I could be that would make this not happen, ever. My fault. My fault. All my fault.

Here’s this thing that sobriety does for me: It makes me know right away that this is just not true. I am all the me I can be- here, today, plugging away doing the very best I fucking can. And sometimes fucked up shit happens and it has nothing to do with me and I can keep on believing in my boy even if he lies me broken to my knees. I can cry and feel my heart ache ache ache but.

I don’t drown this day in wine and hangover. I put on some Counting Crows (lordy) and write and cry and feel it. It sucks, but I do it anyway. I picture him five years ago, I picture him five years from now: always beloved, believed. I picture one day feeling the generous love I feel for him for my very own self.

We are all hundreds of second chances, all piled one on top of the other. I am all the over and over agains I’ve been given my whole life long. And I will never, ever give up. On me, or him.


He accepted his punishment with grace. He was the happiest nine year old without computer/video games for two weeks I’ve seen yesterday- humming to himself, whistling! while doing make up homework for an hour! after school. He ate lentils for dinner and declared them delicious.

The situation really brought up some strong emotions for me. I feel good and happy today: maybe his burden was bringing down the vibe for everyone.

Last night before bed he sat in my lap. “Mom? You are really the best mom.”

“Thanks honey, I think you’re really great, too.”

“And Mom?….. I have one more thing to tell you.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“I got a new tattoo.” 🙂