Sorry if this is the wrong place but I would really like some advice.
My eldest child is 9 years old and I love him immensely, but I can't quite seem to bond properly with him so am looking for some help.
The problem may be down to the circumstances surrounding my pregnancy with him, and his early life. I found myself in a very abusive relationship aged just 17 and fell pregnant fairly quickly. At 6 months pregnant, I called the police and they took my boyfriend away. I then spend the next 6 months waiting for the court case to go to trial (he plead guilty, got 5 years in jail, has never had any contact with my son and my son has had a very loving and fantastic daddy since he turned one year old).
It was incredibly stressful attempting to get past what had happened to me, go through the end months of my pregnancy and give birth alone while also having the impending court case hanging over me. My son was 3 months old when it was all over but it took many years for me to feel normal and functional again. With my mental state being the way it was and with my son being such a quiet baby (he rarely cried, slept through the night by 3 months old, never seemed to want my attention or kisses and cuddles) I barely have any memories of our life together then. Although I loved him, I didn't bond with him at all. In my mind that might be because I was so preoccupied with everything else in my life, and as my son was so content in his own company, I pretty much left him alone. At the time it was a blessing to be able to recover relatively peacefully, but it has turned into a curse in the sense that I lost that precious bonding time with my child (years of it).
Now he is 9. We do have a bond of sorts but it is a strange bond borne simply of protection over him I think (It's certainly not the same bond as I have with my younger two children, to my shame) and I struggle to feel comfortable with him.
So I said it: I feel uncomfortable around him/being too close to him. He leans on me and suddenly grabs at me and I hate it. I want to swat him away (I don't but I definitely tense up and he must be able to feel it). I'm not sure why I do this but it is not because of what my ex did to me-that has absolutely nothing to do with it at all-just that my son seems to think my body is his own. He hasn't been allowed to see me in underwear or naked for years as he used to spy on me and peek through doorways to get a glimpse. He has made me uncomfortable since he could walk and talk.
The fact is that I don't really know this little dude sitting next to me-he is my firstborn and I barely know a thing about him! There seems to be no substance to him. I cannot grasp him. With my other children I can come up with lots of characteristics to describe them as people, who they are, what defines them, but with my eldest I struggle to put him into words. How to describe him? He is very intelligent but very immature. He is loyal but untrustworthy. He is loving but cruel. He is happy but neutral. He is amazing but atrocious. He is reliable but kaleidoscopic. I can define him with opposites and contradictions, which isn't really defining him at all. I want to know him but aren't sure how.
His behaviour doesn't help the situation as he is constantly pushing the limits and breaking the rules (constantly as in about once per hour) and has done from the moment he could. He causes me no end of stress and I think I kind of hold a permanent grudge against him for his naughtiness. Which may be the cause of his behavioural problems-he struggles to feel my love and affection so tries to get attention any way he can.
I try my best, he has the same rules as his siblings and I treat him fairly but there is just something getting in the way of me bonding with him. I can't put my finger on it so am hoping someone here may have some suggestion. I want to fix this. I love him but I also want to like him and I can't right now-he comes across (to me) as creepy and manipulative (and, yes, I feel thoroughly ashamed to say that). I sometimes worry that when he is older he may harm me (he gets this look on his face-I don't know).
I fully realise he is just being himself and I need to change my perspective-this is completely up to me, 100%. Perhaps some understanding on his behaviours would be helpful? If I understand more, I will hopefully know how to deal with him, and be more adaptable to changing my own behaviour. He absolutely doesn't deserve for me to tense up every time we hug, or have me push him away when he leans on me.
What is wrong with me? I just want to be a better mum to him to him; he deserves that. How do we bond? What do I need to do?