So part of what’s going on is my inability to claim Cricket—I remember really early on, when Ruth corrected me, telling me to call Cricket “our son” rather than “your son,” thinking If he was our son, you wouldn’t treat me this way. I think of Cricket more as used to be one of my kids or could have been one of my kids than as fully one of my kids. Stupidly, I tend to imagine my relationship with him as an adult as entirely separate from my relationship with him now; I have these pathetic daydreams about Cricket showing up at our house unannounced as an older teen and just getting to talk to him and have him to dinner with us as a family, without the scrutiny of his mother. I want to get to a place where he feels like part of our family (and his moms’ families) and easy about expressing it, but decided quite awhile ago that nothing like that is possible in his childhood. It’s only now, given the opportunity to examine my thinking, that I’m looking at this stuff and remembering. Even getting ready for the visit last year, I wanted to try to make his time with us special and fun for him—but failed at that pretty dramatically and gave up on that as a lost cause. Having him feel like part of our family now started to feel impossible at some point. I still hold on to the hope that maybe, as an adult . . . but when I think about it, I realize how that unlikely that is unless I do better work now.
In our conversation, I said to Ruth that I don’t feel like I have anything valuable to give Cricket; I should send birthday presents, and I recognize that it would be damaging and lousy of me to vanish, but that I don’t really bring anything that he needs or wants to the situation. She has told me that he’s happy about the adoption and doesn’t seem to have any concerns—he’s got more moms than anyone I know, and I have the distinction of being the oddest and the farthest away. I think Cricket needs me more as a symbolic figure than anything else. Joey and Kit need me desperately, and are crazy about me, and the contrast couldn’t be more striking; having Joey made Cricket feel less like my son, because the experiences seemingly had nothing in common. I don’t have anything special to offer him. I wish that I did. Mr. Book is his only father, and Kit and Joey are his only siblings (and all three boys look remarkably alike, especially Cricket and Kit)—but I am just another mother, probably ranked #4 out of 4 at this point. I knit—none of his other mothers knit—but so far as I can tell, he hasn’t worn the sweater I sent. I don’t know whether to send another next fall. I’m a geek, and none of his other mothers are geeks, but that isn’t valued in their family. I am uncomfortable around him because of my own pain, and that’s lousy and certainly doesn’t make a good impression on him.