Perhaps one of the saddest and most difficult challenges I have faced throughout this entire ordeal is thinking about the ill effects that this has all had on James. Even though I have not been able to take care of him (first, not at all; now, somewhat more), I want him to still understand that I am his Mommy, that I carried him in my body for 40 weeks, breastfed him for the 6 months and 5 days before my stroke, and that I love him more than anything in the world EVEN if I can't do _____ to take care of him.
The fact that James is only three and half softens the sadness when he chooses other caregivers over me (though I am eternally grateful for our moms, sisters, relatives, and friends who have filled the major mothering gaps that I have been unable to give James) or when he says childish mean things to me that I know he doesn't fully understand. Nonetheless, I still wonder what he really thinks about the role I play in his life.
On one of the last days of preschool for the year, we saw this poster that James' class had made together.
They all wrote what they liked.
His response almost made me cry.
James has been blessed with an unusually large and supportive family, a virtual cast of thousands who are his family either by blood or by the love they have given him. But somehow, his simple declaration written on a bright yellow, construction paper tulip communicated to this mommy that James knows and loves and likes his little family of three. I know deep down that Jay and I will always signify something different in James' mind. We are a family. I am his mommy. Jay is his Daddy. James is our baby. And he clearly likes that.