“He says he never wants to be adopted.”

“He told the social worker he doesn’t want to live with the family. He is pursuing an independent living option.”

“Unfortunately, he is having difficulty with adapting to another mother-figure right now. Sometimes this is hard for older kids to accept.”

These are all things we heard time and again from social workers involved in Marcus’ case when he was a teenager. We would spend time together as a family. Things would seem to be going well. Then, out of nowhere, Marcus would pull back and everything would change. He act out against me. He’d rage against the idea of “mom.” The closer he got, the more fireworks would explode when he pulled away.

Looking back over our history as a family, I am amazed that Marcus is here now. Currently, we are all hunkered down together in the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic. The littles are home from school for the foreseeable future. I am supposed to be helping them with online learning. Instead, I am moaning and writhing in after-surgery pain. The kids seem to be doing alright with distance learning on their own.

My stomach is covered with incisions, bruising and purple surgeon’s marker. I lovingly call it “Frankenbelly.” I have an innate love of the macabre so I snap a discrete picture. It probably wouldn’t do to use this to scare the children on Halloween. In the midst of my tummy-musings, Carl runs upstairs with a fresh ice pack for me. I sigh in contentment as I hold the cold relief against my stitched-up skin. Heaven. Carl bounds down the stairs before I can thank him.

Luke is having a harder time. He feels constantly nauseous. His level of pain causes his blood-pressure to spike. This is very bad for his new kidney. His pain medication causes him to vomit. This is very bad for his stitches and probably…his new kidney. He’s already been back to the hospital once via ambulance. Marcus drove behind the “bus” and stayed with Luke. He was sent home with stronger anti-nausea medication.

Upon returning home, Luke vomits again. He winds up on the floor where I crawl down to meet him. We are like two raggedy-dolls patched up with stitches. Our movements are jerky and awkward but we are together. Once I get Luke situated I call the transplant coordinator again. She gives some advice to just continue what we are doing. The subplot is we can’t be at the hospital during a pandemic. It isn’t safe for my immunocompromised husband.

Mary comes in quietly and hands me another ice pack. Sweet relief! I haven’t been asking for these but they’ve been coming all day. Marcus keeps them in the drop freezer in the basement. He says this makes them colder.

“Thank you Little Chicken.” I say to Mary.

She pauses briefly to say, “You’re welcome, Mama. But it’s Marcus that keeps telling us when to bring them.” Then she’s off and running down the stairs to tackle an online math game.

As soon as I settle Luke back into bed I send Marcus a message, thanking him. He hasn’t even taken credit for all the helping out he’s been doing. I let him know he’s such a good son. I am so lucky to get to be his mother.

The message I get back is simple. It reads, “ Of course I’m helping. You’re my mom.”

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.


19 thoughts on “Frankenbelly

  1. This brought me to tears. All you have given to them is so evident in the way they have changed so much and feel so much safer, accepting, loved. Sending lotsa hugs, prayers, and healing wishes.
    Love, light, and glitter

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Heila says:

    That last sentence made me tear up a little. You have built resilience into your kids, and kindness, and in Marcus’ case clearly responsibility as well – even when it didn’t feel like it. I hope you and Luke feel better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cloudy says:

    I am following your blog for a while and just want to wish you and particularly Luke with all my heart all the best for a speedy recovery.
    You are a wonderful family and you weathered so many storms together. Both Luke and you have shown your kids what unconditional love means – no matter what and even if. It is wonderful to see that reflect in your children.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Herding Mama,

    I’m glad your children are doing what they can! I really hope Luke and you heal swiftly and well.

    Also, I’m good at finding online resources, so please let me know there’s something you’re looking out for. Stuff for the family to do perhaps, since there’s a lot of people sharing free stuff? Resources for your own self care? Resources on supporting traumatised kids / youth? Anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are incredible, and your kids, are just amazing, I hope you know how special they all are, and you too of course. I hope your feeling a lot better now after the surgery, and I am sending my best to Luke, also. A big high 5 from me and my alters, and my guide dog Nitro! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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